First, I need to say that we survived our visitor, Sandy, very well. We kept power the entire time. The Federal Government and all local schools were closed Monday and Tuesday, so Clay and the kids have been home, but Clay and I were pretty productive and the kids were great. They played Wii, Legos, made a fort, built a marble city, and have been playing all sorts of imaginative games. They let us nap, and they even helped clean up their rooms and play areas. I’m eager for them to head back to school (though I think they screamed with more enthusiasm than I did at the news) but I can’t really complain about how the past few days have gone.
Especially with the storm slowing life down, this week has gone slowly, like a long sleepless night when I look eagerly at the clock, just hoping it is morning. Not that morning is all that great, I know I’ll be tired from a lack of sleep, but at least the waiting for morning to come is over. And so this week I wait for chemo. Not that I’m looking forward to it, I’m just ready to be finished with the waiting.
Part of what makes waiting hard is the unexpected. I went to the chemo class last week, so have a little better handle on what is coming my way. And I’m very thankful for the development of drugs that will help combat some of the side effects of the chemo. Most are familiar with nausea as a side effect, but I will be given anti-nausea medication with the chemo infusion and they’ve given me two additional anti-nausea meds that I’ll have at home to take if I need them, so the discomfort should be minimal. My immune system will also become severely compromised, but about 24 hours after each chemo treatment, I’ll get a shot of Neulasta which will help regrow those important immune cells in my bone marrow. Some people experience significant bone and joint pain as a result of this drug, but they have assured me that I will be able to manage the pain with ibuprofen, and want to be sure that I’m not in any more pain than necessary.
Unfortunately, not all side effects can be mitigated with additional drugs. Fatigue, for one. I will be tired, but there’s no real way to tell how much. Thankfully, my most tired days are likely to be during the week, so I should be able to nap while the kids are at school. Peripheral neuropathy is another. That’s a fancy way to say that my fingers and toes may get tingly. Hopefully just tingly, but my oncologist said it may become more severe, and if it becomes hard for me to hold things we may adjust my chemotherapy dosage.
Of course, the most well known of the side effects is hair loss. My hair will fall out. There doesn’t seem to be any question about that. It will likely happen within two to three weeks after the first treatment. So by mid- to late-November, I’ll be sporting a scarf or my fancy new (though not yet ordered– better get on that one!) wig. I know it’s inevitable, but I figure there’s no need to rush it. So as soon as it starts falling out, I’m headed to Georgetown to have Dragan give me my last haircut for a while. I’ll have him put it in a ponytail and braid it first, since it’s gotten so long, I can donate it to Locks of Love. Then I’ll have him shave off the rest, there’s no sense spending weeks picking up stray hairs– and clumps of hair– while I wait for it to all fall out. I’ve been following the blog lilblueboo for years and was captivated to watch Ashley go through her own battle with cancer last year about this time. I had the kids watch the video her friend made when she shaved her head, and while they were a little wary about the whole thing, they loved the ending. I’ve promised them a new box of washable markers, and they’ve promised no sharpies on the noggin.
The kids are all ready and super excited for Halloween tomorrow. And I’m glad for a day that will be busy and full of activity. Hopefully, it will leave me with a little less time to check the clock, waiting for morning.