Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Lied…

Posted Nov 12, 2008 7:16pm

…about all that ambitious stuff I had planned yesterday. Just after I turned off my computer, chastising myself for that foolish public commitment to do 8 minutes of exercise, I was hit with a wave - make that a tsunami - of nausea that prompted an out loud, “What the hell is that???”

Forget the wristbands; I headed for the drugs. Fortunately, the Kytril kicks in within seconds, but I still felt a little dazed, and in no mood to get fluffy and go interview the oxygen therapy doc.
But true to my word, about 10 minutes later, confident that my tummy would not attack me again, I cranked up the DVD and did my 8 minute abs. The Universe was quite kind; something went awry with the player so I couldn’t actually see anything other than a blacked-out screen.

It was probably a good thing. At the moment I couldn’t think of any sight that would be more irritating than three tanned long-haired youngsters flexing and glistening in the sun as my pale, fuzzy headed self struggled on the living room floor at half pace in a fleece bathrobe. But I could hear Mr. Jarhead’s chipper encouragement to, “Come on guys, only 10 more – and this is fun!!” Ah yes, of course it is. And I’ve done it enough times that I could follow his verbal instructions without feeling intimidated into keeping up with the rhythmic pace I couldn’t see, so it all worked out.

I called in my apologies and rescheduled the oxygen interview, and puttered around getting ready for my noon appointment with the oncology nurse. Outside of a brief, unprompted blurt of indigestion, the rest of the day was pretty much without incident. I did tell the nurse about the splitting finger/toe nails, and she suggested tea tree oil. I picked up a little bottle at the health food store on the way to work, and although it smells like kerosene, it worked great! Apparently another thing I may have to look forward to is the skin splitting around the nail beds, but that can be held together with Liquid Band Aid. Skin tack, kerosene, head stubble and an occasional uncontrollable belch - it’s all so sexy.

There was a fascinating story on NPR around Halloween about an article published in the Journal of Ophthalmology in 1921. Shortly after moving into an old house, an entire family became ill, heard voices, pounding and other strange noises, saw unearthly beings in their rooms at night, and felt hands gripping at them so tightly that they couldn’t move. It turned out that the furnace was leaking, and the entire family had a low level of carbon monoxide poisoning, which caused all their hallucinations. It seems that back then, lots of stuff leaked carbon monoxide – gas lamps, kerosene lanterns, leaking chimneys, wood stoves. Once the furnace was fixed, the “ghosts” disappeared.

Living in a chemo body is much like a stay in a haunted house. Every creak and groan and blemish and ache is a source of alarm, because everything is unfamiliar, and everything is suspect as yet another scary goblin. I'm finding that the most likely explanation is that there’s nothing really wrong. It’s a kickass treatment that temporarily puts the inner furnace on the fritz. Things will go bump in the night (and the day) and everyone’s reaction is different.

More fun symptoms – abdominal cramps on and off all last night, but gone by light of day. On the way to work, my mouth felt like sandpaper, and by noon I had to guard my speech pattern so I wouldn’t drool all over myself. I had a lovely configuration of purple scarves wrapped into a fancier-than-usual turbany thing, and I trust my patients were distracted enough by the hand-painted gold gingko leaf pattern swirling around my head that they didn’t notice the dribble.
Other than the array of surprise symptoms, my energy was back to normal by yesterday afternoon, and I’ve been very busy since then. I was up at 5:30 this morning, read a few chapters, did some laundry, ironing, made breakfast and lunches – and got to work early. It’s a great day here; I hope it is for you, too!
Love, Laurie