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Saturday, July 31, 2010

My new reality: low energy-no hair Jen

I know that in my last post I wrote about how bad the side effects of my last round of AC chemo had been on my system. And it was bad--the worst round and the worst side effects that I've had since I began treatment. To give you an idea, I basically spent my days following my last round of chemo (July 22) either prone or sitting up on the couch and watching Seasons 1-5 of THE OFFICE on Netflix on demand (I managed to finish all 5 seasons during this last round). I also usually took about 2 naps a day--one around 9-10am and another between 2-3pm for around 2 hours. And I was in bed by 9pm and awake by 6am--I'm told this is the schedule of many 1 year olds.

My fatigue has hit an all time high (or low)--again, at my lowest (which I'd say was Tuesday) I was at about 10%. And even now, the first day I've felt like I can sit in my office chair and return email messages and blog, I still feel slightly dizzy--my new reality is that I have no hair, I am constantly slightly dizzy, and I am constantly tired--which varies from being so fatigued that I can barely sit up to my current state, which is that I can do some light housework (like the dishes) but after any exertion I need to either sit or lie down and rest.

My other new constant is that I'm not very sharp right now. I am having some aphasia (substituting words for one another or grappling to find the right word or saying the wrong word and thinking I said the right word). I also find it hard to concentrate--especially reading--even reading fiction (I'm stalled on The Story of Edgar Sawtelle--which I was enjoying but can't find my way back into, not because of the narrative but because I feel like I have ADD right now and just can't concentrate).

My inability to focus has really thrown me. I'm someone who is usually able to focus and concentrate pretty well--so combined with my aphasia and my fatigue all combines to mean I'm not doing any academic work right now, because if I find it hard to concentrate on fiction, trying to do any critical writing feels really beyond me. Which also makes me a bit anxious. I mean, I know I need to just cut myself some slack--after all, chemotherapy is a pretty serious treatment to go through and my side effects are quite real. But I'm a critic--which means I'm critical--and the truth is, I'm most critical of myself, so it's hard for me to turn off the voice of judgment that says, "Oh c'mon Jennifer--you can work on the Tiger Woods chapter--JUST DO IT!"

[nod to Nike brainwashing through all the research I've been doing on Tiger who, lets face it, has been THE posterboy for Nike, taking over that mantle from Michael Jordan]

Anyway, that's all I wanted to share. I'm slowly making my way through the email messages I've gotten from folks, some of whom read this blog and others who find reading this blog too hard--which I get. I mean, I feel sad sometimes knowing that this is my reality so I can understand why someone else would feel sad reading about what I'm going through.

I do want to say that I have gotten such LOVING email and voice mail messages and cards (special shout out to Donna who sends me a weekly card which I so appreciate!) and the scrumptuous meals dropped off to our home and the folks who have walked Bruno and some WONDERFUL care packages! Wonderful aromatherapy lotion from my parents (Thanks Mo and Dad!); local farm products like honey and jam from Santa Cruz (Thanks Christine!), a beautiful head silk head wrap (Thanks Karen!); something that allows me to self-medicate and make it through the really hard days (which means that from Friday to Monday I was basically in an altered state in order to control the nausea--thank you to friends who shall remain nameless to protect their identity!); and some punk paraphenalia from my friends Paul and Rebecca who say that I should embrace my hairless state and just GO PUNK--so on that note, I leave you with a photo that I sent to them to demonstrate just how I feel about my cancer and my chemo (but please know, my sentiments are NOT aimed at any person or anyone reading this blog):

[Jennifer in a Ramones t-shirt giving the finger to cancer and all those stupid pink ribbons]


  1. Sitting in lotus and flipping the finger -- a little cognitive dissonance going on?? :)

  2. I'm going through the same chemo regime you did and tomorrow I get my last AC treatment. Put my face on your picture Jen,because that's exactly how I feel!
    Theresa H.