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August 31, 2021 - Emotions Abound
Wow. August has been a month of surprises, a little heartbreak, joy, disappointment, and relief. The emotions or I should say, MY emotions have been all over the place.
CUE: Heartbreak and Joy and Surprise
Mason entered his first year of middle school. He is an official 6th grader. (CUE: The Little Heartbreak and Joy). My little boy is growing up before my eyes. The saying "The days are long, but the years fly by" contains wisdom and truth.
Mason is adjusting well, probably better than Jamie and I. He has 7 periods, changes classes, and has work, homework, projects, and studying in all of them. He loves it. He loves the pace and has exclaimed that it is not boring. (CUE: The Surprise). Happily, we experienced a small (no - very Large win) this year. We successfully convinced Mason that school lunch is good! We no longer have to worry about packing that lunch box before school. He wouldn't have room for it anyway with the number of folders, composition books, and just books in his backpack!!
The month of August also brought many visits to the Mayo Clinic. I had my normal "every" three weeks of blood tests, doc visits, and infusions. In addition, it was time for my routine echocardiogram. Earlier in August was my brain MRI. I saw my breast oncologist and my neuro oncologist.
As many of you know, my neuropathy has not improved. My doctors have been suggesting that I try a new drug to help with the pain. Unfortunately, it won't alleviate the numbness, but it supposed to help with the shooting pain in my hands an and feet. Imagine that you have put your feet in a bucket of ice water (loaded with ice) for about 15 minutes. That is the shooting pain that I speak of when I mention pain with neuropathy.
I finally cried uncle. I am now adding Gabapentin to my daily drug intake. Gabapentin can seem like a scary drug. It is used to help control seizures in patients with epilepsy. It is also used to manage pain that occurs after shingles. It ALSO works in the brain to relieve certain conditions in the nervous system, such as neuropathy. In fact, it is quite commonly taken by cancer patients. I fought it until I couldn't take the pain any longer.
I now take Gabapentin 3 times a day with my other chemotherapy pills and nausea meds. I am a walking pharmacy!! The side affects of Gabapentin are taking it's toll. It added and increased the fatigue and nausea that I was already dealing with. I am told that I will get "used" to Gabapentin. In all seriousness, Really! I hate getting used to any of this. (CUE: The Disappointment).
Which leads me to my professional disappointment and personal relief - all rolled into one. After much soul searching, Jamie and I decided that I needed to take a break from work. My body decided. CUE: The Disappointment. For those that know me, I'm not me unless I'm contributing at least 100% if not more. Sadly, 2021 has been a year of adjustment, and frankly, I'm not adjusting well. I am fortunate that I work for a wonderful company with wonderful people who have supported me from day 1. For that, I am grateful and thankful.
CUE: The Relief
On the flip side, taking a break from work has afforded me relief. I am able to take the naps my body needs, guilt free. I am free to focus on my health without the pressure of work. I no longer feel the pressure or guilt of pushing through a conference call when all I feel like doing is puking. My chemo brain is no longer taxed trying to recall/remember work details and numbers. As much as I try, my brain is not as sharp. And, it wouldn't be a Renee post if I didn't include an oversharing alert. (OVERSHARING ALERT!) More importantly, I am free to deal with my relentless trips to the bathroom due to diarrhea caused by my chemotherapy drugs.
So as I reflect on August and the emotions that came with it, the one that is most prevalent is relief. Having metastatic breast cancer is an emotional roller coaster. It may be scary, slow then fast, surprise you with joy, bring disappointment...but there is always relief.
CUE: The Relief.