Monday’s hydration session at the oncologist was great. Last week my liver and kidneys got a little stressed by the chemo (who can blame them). My creatinine went up again and my liver function test numbers were… high? low? I can’t remeber, let’s just say off. That was part of the reason for going into the oncologist office, redraw labs and recheck my numbers. Turns out my numbers were already back to normal, creatinine, liver function, and my white blood cells (meaning my immune system was still at full force). I was like, “Damn, way to go body! Getting yourself back to homeostasis (normal) in only 1 week!” I mean, let’s be real, that’s kind of a big deal. Miraculous, you could even say. And there it is, miraculous. Indicating it’s not me, it’s not Crossfit, it’s a God who loves me and people praying for me. Kinda stabs you in the heart, huh? Nevertheless, I was still pretty nervous about going in to work the next day.
Tuesday, I woke up easily with my alarm. Whenever that happens it means I didn’t sleep deeply enough, nerves. Driving to work felt so normal I wanted to cry. I love my commute. Call me crazy but I love everything about LA culture, even traffic. Maybe it stems from a deep seeded fear of missing out but I love having a commute. I love that everyone else is also braving the commute, it’s us against the traffic. I love how traffic, try as you might, is unpredictable, a wild untameable beast. I love that without traffic my 13 mile drive takes me 20 minutes but when I go to work when school is in session it normally takes me as little as 35 minutes and as long as 1 hour. I even like that slight panic in the pit of my stomach when I’m late and there’s nothing I can do. I love my commute on the old 110 freeway on my way downtown. I love the hills and the trees and the curves and the history of it. I like that I’ve been doing it almost eight years and I know every crack and pothole. So as I merged onto the 110 and then caught up to the traffic it felt good.
I walked into my office after having disappeared for 3 weeks with a “Guess who still works here!!” and was met by happy coworkers that echoed my delight at seeing them. It was nice to bring relief to people instead of sadness. They all knew I had started chemo last week and were so relieved that I was still myself and feeling good. By noon I was exhausted. I ate lunch and rested, then documented for my morning and rested more. At three I said to myself, “I can see a couple more patients, only an hour”. I saw three more patients then documented and went home. I actually met productivity standards for the day but I was super dead. I was even nervous about driving home. But I didn’t crash. I only fell asleep at two stop lights, (red lights, and only for a millisecond). I barely had the energy to walk into my parents house. I collapsed on my bed and slept soundly for an hour and a half. I woke up groggy and still tired. Too tired to go and pretend to workout. Great. I only teared up a little bit while eating dinner.
Wednesday, I saw even more patients, exceeding the productivity standards. A little more energy, a little less tired. I also told myself I wasn’t going to be as tired. I went to box straight from work, my old routine. I can’t do wods because I can’t do intensity. I did some accessory work instead, you know, unilateral work for my legs. I’m still only 7 months after my ACL surgery. A couple rounds of KB front rack step ups, and Bulgarian split squats, and banded side steps. Ummm it was hard, which was super annoying.
Thursday was even better. I made it through my morning and even through PT activity during lunch without a break and felt ok. I also went into the box ready to jam! The way I saw it, I could do the WOD with the class. It was a 10-9-8-7… descending reps all the way to one of med ball cleans, sit ups, and hand stand push ups. Umm I can do all of that! So I did! I wasn’t the fastest, I certainly wasn’t my fastest, but I did the WOD RX and didn’t even die. My port site was fine and I felt good. I think I needed that wod more mentally and for my heart than anything else. At home I died with fatigue, it crashed on me like a wave and I passed out on the couch an hour before I normally would. Sorry shower.
Friday I felt practically normal. I even went out to lunch with a coworker and walked like half a mile or something for the best bean and cheese burritos in LA since 1976. I was only a little tired when I got back. It’s tough thinking about how good I feel and knowing that next week I am going to feel so not good. Part of me wishes I could make my response to the chemo less severe and feel less normal in my off weeks. But the other part of me knows that I’m going to crave feeling normal and having energy so it will be worth feeling crumby if I can get to feeling like this. It’s very strange to feel very much my old self but be in the middle of cancer and chemo and know that I’m poisoning myself again in a couple days. But I’m happy for the normalcy. My body is handling this chemo thing great!!
Another challenge for my week was that none of the nurses had found out about my diagnosis. All I heard all day is “Amy! Where have you been? I haven’t seen you lately! Did you go on vacation?” All I wanted to say was “No I got Diagnosed with cancer actually.” But multiple people have told me I can’t tell people that way. It’s hard to tell nurses. They’re in the middle of their shift, they have patients to take care of, cancer is distracting. If I’ve learned one thing about having cancer it’s that telling people upsets them. I don’t want to upset nurses when they have to take care of other people! But I managed to tell a couple people. Three out of five nurses teared up despite my best efforts and humor. One nurse even politely corrected me that I have stage four not stage three. I burst out laughing because he was totally right. I felt like someone put a brick in my stomach but it’s still just so absurd! Stage four cancer!?! “Stage one is localized malignancy, stage two is multiple tumors in the same organ, stage three is lymph nodes and stage four is another organ.” “Oh well I definitely have stage four then.” He teared up as I laughed. Thank God I have a sense of humor. My heart wanted to panic and start crying with him. I felt myself slipping toward sadness, like I was losing my footing. I began scrambling for things that are true…. One important truth, nothing has changed. I don’t have any new tumors, chemo is still Monday, the treatment plan is the same. There is no reason to be more sad now than I was two minutes ago. Then I told Him my most important truth. The truth that keeps me straight of heart and mind and anchored to hope and peace. “Dude, the reason I’m ok is because I’ve got this relationship with God and everything I know about Him says that no matter what, He’s going to do good things with this. So I’m ok.” It’s a solid anchor, let me tell you. When it wavers, I remember all the people praying for me, keeping me in this space by their prayers. But, man, I get sad sometimes about it.
I’m fairly compartmentalized emotionally, my natural state. And thus the sadness comes in waves. On Tuesday I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep and my normal fall asleep position was uncomfortable because my port site was sore. (Before all this cancer get up a million times in the middle of the night thing, I was a very good stomach sleeper. I am a fall asleep within two minutes wake up in the same position every morning stomach sleeper. So I obviously have a position that knocks me out with comfort.) I lay there trying to use pillows, trying other positions, getting irritated. And I just thought “Man! I don’t want this stupid port. I don’t want to have cancer,” and my irritation turned to sadness and I started to cry. Don’t worry it wasn’t as pathetic as it sounds, well ok, it was, but I immediately thought of truer and bigger things than sadness, stopped crying and fell asleep. But I get sad when I think of how much my life has changed already and how much it’s going to change still.
But like I said, I can have 3-4 days of feeling normal, working out like “normal”, working and eating like normal!!! This is a huge deal and a mercy that I do not take for granted.