It's been two weeks since I had my first dose of chemotherapy, and it feels like the worst of the side-effects have mostly worn off.
It was pretty awful... but not as bad as it could have been. I'll tell you more about it after the second round.
What I'm really struggling with at the moment, is the feeling that I'm on some kind of weird home detention. Because the chemotherapy wipes out my immune system, I am very, VERY susceptible to other people's bugs, and what is just a cold for a friend, can become pneumonia for me very fast. Which sounds ridiculously dramatic... but it's true. When explorers came across a tribe that hadn't seen outsiders before, it was very common for much of the tribe to die from illnesses that the explorers were carriers of. The tribe's immune systems had never been exposed to these viruses/bacteria before, and they had no way of fighting them off. That's pretty much my position. All my built-up immunity has been wiped out by the chemotherapy, and it's starting again from scratch! And it has to start again from scratch after each round of chemotherapy. So I have to stay away from people, particularly groups of people, as much as I can
All of which means, if you have a cold or a tickly throat, or someone in your family has bugs, PLEASE don't come and visit me! Please don't have my kids round to play if your family aren't all healthy, because my immune system has enough challenges going on at the moment, particularly with 4 kids in the house.
Moving on from the physical to the mental...
The chemotherapy process seems to be one of letting go. I've had to let go of going to school assemblies, watching my kids in various different activities, growing a big vege garden, going to church, being a part of the community garden... and yesterday I had to let go of my hair. Even the way I think is different - it's called chemo-brain. My thinking is fuzzier, sometimes it's hard to find the right words, and every now and then it's like my brain fills up with fog, and I can't make decisions about anything, or even think coherently.
It's hard. And scary.
I know that it's all temporary... but it's my reality right now, and will be for the next few months.
It feels like I'm in some weird kind of personal autumn. I'm like a tree, watching so many of the things I love doing and so much of my physical being that I took for granted, just fall away, like leaves onto the ground. And there's nothing I can do about it! I can't hold on to these things tighter, I HAVE to let them go. I have to surrender to this process, and let so much of what has brought meaning to my life, slip out of my hands.
What makes it stranger, is feeling like this while it's spring outside. Seeing new lambs, trees budding, bulbs flowering, everyone getting excited about what they're going to grow this season, the weather starting to warm up... while in my life, everything is slowing down and paring back to what seems like a long way short of the bare essentials. I feel completely out of tune with life around me.
It often feels like I'm in that little patch of shadow, watching everyone else in the sun.