Friday, April 14, 2017

The Importance of Blogs and Logs And Giving It Up

The Blogs

I'm finding Facebook and this blog extremely helpful in not only creating a therapeudic diary of this journey, but also in helping me keep friends and family updated.

While I'm immensely thankful that people care--that means a LOT to me--I'm also finding it difficult to repeat the same updates to all the wonderful friends and family who send me emails and IMs asking how I'm doing, while still keeping up a schedule of work/rest/exercise/cooking, etc..  It is an aid to me when people check here first, and in return, I'll try not to bore you with a bunch of extraneous information that puts you to sleep. :)

The Logs

All my coworkers in Finance will completely understand my ingrained need to chart and graph my statistics through these 84 days.  So, of course, I started with Excel and created a daily log.  It has the following columns and up to 13 individual hours can be logged on one day:
  • Time of Day
  • How I'm feeling
  • What I've eaten
  • What I've drank in the way of liquids
  • Drugs I've taken
  • Exercise I've done
 I've got spots to track my daily weight and the hours I slept, etc.

I'm the worst one for going to the doctor with complaints then never being able to articulate exactly when and how problems come on.  So I plan to be diligent in keeping this up, even though it does suck quite a bit of time out of my day.

If you are reading this post because you're going through something similar, I highly recommend and log or journal.  It will help you see trends in what's working, what's not, but also keep you in tune and conscious with your body.

Giving It Up


Here is a lesson that started long before I got my first chemo infusion:  To get through something like this, you've got to take your body OFF of life's schedule, and put your life ON your body's schedule.  That's easy for me because I don't have a lot of set meetings, no kids to get to school and sports.  I can work from home, make my hours, and I belong to a 24-hour gym.  I know everyone doesn't have that luxury, but in whatever way you can, you need to do this.

Early on, with anxiety of this diagnosis, the unknown, the waiting, fear, worry, I stopped sleeping regularly.  It was like being in the Amityville Horror movie, waking up at 3:15 every damn night.  The old me would have panicked fearing I'm going to crash in the afternoon if I don't sleep until at least 6:00 a.m.

But then out of frustration, I did something amazing:  Instead of lying awake for hours calculating how much sleep I could get if I fell asleep "RIGHT NOW", I got up and started my day.  I turned on my work computer and started handling business.  I got to be pool early, swam.  When the afternoon came around, I didn't crash.  Clearly, my body had gotten enough rest even though my brain insisted that was never going to happen.

If you run your life on a fairly set schedule, be prepared to let that schedule go.  This doesn't have to be a bad thing.  It relieves a lot of stress to realize that, when my body says it's done sleeping after 4 hours, I can go through the day pretty well.  All the horrible things I thought would happen didn't.

In short, you stop the process of feeling you always need to be in control.  And that is a good life lesson.

Day 1 of 84: The Chemo Saga Begins

Infusion 1 of 4

 Day One: Overriding theme for the day: "One down, three to go." 

 I started the day with a good swim at the pool, a walk with Al and then a protein breakfast at Peppers Cafe. Egg scramble, yummy. It was all the perfect prep to put me in high spirits, have me feeling good and ready to get this first treatment over with. 

All I kept thinking was, "No matter what, after today I will only have three more chemos." That count-down helps a LOT.

I took with me the big bear Tommy gave me after my lumpectomy, as well as the blanket a dear friend crocheted for me. LOTS of water, gummy bears (my preferred snack), magazines, Words With Friends, Facebook, and Animal Crossing. With Al by my side in and out, it all went by completely uneventfully, thank GOD. Time whizzed by fast. Chemo is painless, only the IV in my hand was annoying and cold, but they give you a pillow and a nice warm electric blanket to wrap it with. The chairs are comfy, the room is sunny. I could have stayed there a couple more hours. I felt like being a little kid again, in the back of our family's Rambler station wagon, surrounded by pillows and puzzles, and all the fun things my mom gave me to keep me busy on road trips to Crater Lake and Mt. Hood.

The only problem with the three chemo days (day before, day of, day after) is the steroids they have me on.  They prevent allergic reaction and help with nausea, etc.  But they give me splitting headaches and almost nothing takes them away.  I'm only able to get them tolerable with Lorazepam and THC, the combination of which zones me out and makes me sleepy.  Luckily, the headaches don't come on until later in the day and evening, so I'm pretty functional otherwise.

Saturday, that nuisance will be gone, but they tell me it will be the "big crash" and the effects of chemo will start setting in.  I need to keep up with my healthy diet, tons of water and exercise to stave those off as much as possible.  Time will tell.