A couple of weeks ago, I was driving into work and it was very foggy. You know how you can only see a little bit ahead of you, and then everything else is sort of blurred out? And even the stuff close by looks slightly different. I realized that is how I kind of feel right now. I can only see so far in front of me. I’m driving into fog.
Maybe that’s good. The next treatment is coming, I’ll feel sick again. I’ll lose my hair soon. I don’t really want to think much farther than that right now. Focus on the here and now. I am having good days right now leading up to Thursday’s treatment. I want to focus on feeling good and enjoying my family and friends, and not think about how I’ll feel after Thursday.
And, like when you’re in fog, everything looks different to me now. Even the close up things. I look at my husband and although I still see my best friend for the last 22 years, I also see a worried man who is doing his best to hang on to normalcy. He’s being strong for me, but of course I know he can’t help but think of the what-ifs.
I see my kids realizing that Mom’s new normal involves lots of naps. (Of course, I consider it my “new normal for now”. I continue to push to keep active. Now that I am up to 1 mile a day of walking, I am adding a second walk on the days that I can. Yesterday I used the rowing machine for 10 minutes.) Andy told me the other day that even though I had cancer, I still made the best waffles in the world. 🙂 I don’t always tuck the three little ones into bed anymore as the stairs can be tiring some nights, so we settle for hugs before they head to their bedrooms. It’s the little things like these that are different.
I think about the things I used to take for granted every day. The little moments of closeness with my family, the little things my friends do to keep in touch with me. I appreciate it all much more than ever before. The kids were in the hot tub playing last night while I was in the kitchen and just watching and listening to them splash and giggle was so warming to my heart. My babies.
My friend Nikki texted me this morning to tell me she’ll miss me while she’s on her trip this week, and Juanita checked to see if she would see me at baseball games this week. My friend Kristina checks on me almost daily. All the people sending me messages or going out of their way to check on me. I feel full of life and love and support right now.
When I look at people around me – strangers – I see them differently. The older lady at the movie theater – her very, very short hair, and no teeth -probably someone who has recently finished chemo. She looked so happy to be at the movies, teeth or not. At one time I would have thought to myself- geez lady, put in your teeth before you leave home! But as I watched her walk slowly, and carefully, carrying her popcorn, her clothes so baggy on her thin frame, all I could do is say a prayer for her to overcome whatever made her so weak and unable to wear her dentures. I see things differently. I’m glad for that.
The other thing that the fog made me think of was chemo brain. It’s basically the chemo drugs, the stress, the fatigue, the worry, etc all lead to you having what the American Cancer Society calls “mental cloudiness”. You get forgetful, you have difficulty concentrating, your brain has to work hard to analyze and process things. Basically, you lose some brain function. Like driving in fog.
For most people, it’s temporary and it all comes back at some point after the treatment ends. For a very few people, they feel that they never recover. Some of it is not measurable by others and can only be sensed by the person himself, but I imagine it can be very depressing to feel that you have lost some of your abilities.
Does this worry me? Of course! I’m a worrier! My brain is my biggest asset. My job requires a high functioning intelligent being. My personal life revolves around knowledge and intelligence. I write. For those of you who don’t know- I actually wrote a book (as of yet, unpublished). I have several more in the works. What if my brain function is diminished and I can no longer write? What if I lose my edge at work and can no longer perform at the level I need to?
So far, no sign of anything other than fatigue-induced cloudiness, similar to what happens in pregnancy. If it happens to me, I have to believe it’ll be temporary. That it will go away and I will be myself again at the end. I can’t think otherwise, it would be too devastating.