So, I’ve been pretty lucky thus far in my cancer journey. I’ve felt mostly good. I’ve had some really good days, in fact.
But this past week, things did not go quite so well.
As I was coming off my last treatment, I seemed to have a harder time rebounding. I knew this would happen eventually, as they say the effects are cumulative with chemo.
Around mid-week last week, I had a bout with some digestive issues (I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say I spent some quality time in the bathroom). This sort of set the ball rolling for the rest of the week’s problems.
On Thursday, I had an appointment with a plastic surgeon to talk about my reconstruction options. As she went through the choices and told me about the recovery time for each, my heart sank. Intellectually I knew surgery wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but I really had no idea how hard and long that recovery was going to be. No option is a good option, in my mind. And I cannot decide what to do, regarding reconstruction. Part of me wants to say screw it and do nothing, but I don’t know that I’d be satisfied with that, either. I’m just thankful I have several months to figure this out.
During said appointment, I was standing there with the surgeon as she measured my chest. Suddenly, things started getting black and my ears had this weird ringing sensation, almost like I was under water. I knew I was about to faint, so I sat down and then had to take a few minutes to lie down, drink some water and gather myself. It was embarrassing and a little scary.
That afternoon, I had my bi-weekly appointment with the NP to check my immune levels and let her know how I was doing. I told her about the digestive issues and near-fainting, and she said I was probably dehydrated and offered to give me IV fluids. I declined. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Fast-forward to 1 a.m. Saturday morning. I awoke with terrible pain in my kidneys coupled with sciatic nerve pain in my leg (a fun little condition I experience periodically). The kidney pain felt similar to having a UTI or bladder infection that goes untreated too long. It was really bad, and the Tylenol I was taking wouldn’t touch it. Knowing my immune levels were really low at the time from chemo, I feared an infection.
So, I called the triage nurse line that they tell us to use if we have any pain that we can’t manage (among other red flag issues). The nurse couldn’t really diagnose what was going on and told me to come into the ER within 24 hours since the cancer center is closed on weekends.
Unable to handle the pain any longer, my husband took me to the ER around 4 a.m. We were there until around 2 p.m. After blood and urine tests came back clear, along with an MRI (apparently sciatic nerve pain also can be caused by tumors on the spine, so they wanted to rule that out) that showed nothing, there wasn’t a real diagnosis of what was going on. But after IV fluids helped (along with some decent pain meds), I’m pretty sure dehydration was a big factor for the kidney pain. I likely never fully recovered from the digestive episode earlier in the week and my body just had enough.
Of course, I was wiped out from all of that, and had to miss a friend’s party I was really looking forward to that night. I also had a girls’ day planned for the next day with friends and had to beg out of that, too.
I’m feeling better now, but still not 100%. I do have a better sense of the importance of taking care of myself, though, and staying hydrated.
I’m really just hoping this will be a better week. I’m at the point where I’m starting to fatigue of this process. There are some days that I want to just run away and quit. I’m tired of feeling bad. I’m tired of being poked by needles. I’m tired of sleeping horribly. I’m tired of being afraid. I’m just tired of it all.