Saturday, October 15, 2011

suck it up, suck it up, suck it up

"Straight in, suck up and go,
Cool it, swallow, swallow
Breathe deep, take it all
It comes cheap
Push it through the doors
Because in between the lines
I'm gonna pack more lines
So I can get in
Ooh traffic jam got more cars
Than a beach got sand
Suck it up, suck it up, suck it up,
Fill it up until no more
I'm no crazy creep, I've got it coming
To me because I'm not satisfied
The hunger keeps on growing
I eat too much...I drink too much
I want too much...Too much" ~Dave Matthews Band

Chemo sucks.  Energy, spirit, will, drive, determination, hope, strength. Chemo sucks it all.  I managed to get through my 3rd round dancing with 'the red devil' or 'the red death' or whatever they call this poison they are giving me, but it has not been easy.  I have been quite introspective this week; somewhat by force of circumstance. My body is not cooperating with my will,  so I have spent a lot of days and nights laying in my bed thinking things through. I haven't really even had the energy to write it down, which may or may not be a good thing- thoughts bubble up, bump around in my head and then disperse. Bits and pieces of songs lyrics I've heard or just know too well.

One thing that dealing with a chronic disease like RA has taught me is to recognize the cyclical nature of the beast.  It's totally different than dealing with an acute illness, where your goal is just to hunker down, batten down the hatches, and wait the thing out....It will be over eventually.  When you are dealing with chronic illness, there is no eventually -- there is only ebb and flow.  Good days and bad.  Things start to lose perspective and take on a narrower focus, based on the cycle you are in.  There is a greater challenge in trying to take life on one day at a time, when the day you are in is not particularly good. You start to think, "I feel horrible today...what if tomorrow isn't better? How will I get through it?".  On good days you want to cram as much as possible into it, to the detriment of your well-being the following day or days; because there is no guarantee that you will have another good day tomorrow.  Your focus becomes more black and white.

When I am uncomfortable in my body, my brain starts to think in absolutes. I feel miserable, therefore my entire life is miserable.  I can't stand the look, smell or taste of the fresh tomatoes from my garden (yes, still, on the 15th of October in Michigan). This translates into my hating my entire garden at the moment. It's too big, too overgrown, too weedy...too...too...much.   My house is a mess, dirty, dusty, hairy, smelly -I can't stand it. Fight or flight.  I need to get out of this place.  Or, if I can't flee, then I will just turn bitchy or morose.

My dear husband, the eternal optimist, spent time in the army, in Georgia -in the summer- in his youth. He has that perpetually annoying perspective of knowing just how bad things COULD be and this helps him to deal with his life's ups and downs.  I know that my own experience with this cancer will alter my external gauges, give me some benchmarks to characterize what truly sucks and what is just uncomfortable at the moment.

Reading through the October, 2011 issue of Yoga Journal, yet again this week, I came across an article; "7 Tools for Welcoming Change".  I have probably read this same article 3 or 4 times in the past month.  But re-reading it this week, after a week of so much pain, physical discomfort and bleak mental outlook, I found some wisdom in it. Three things in particular stood out for me this time. Know that change is inevitable; meditate through the discomfort;  and practice letting go.

I'm very thankful to my friends and family this week, who, despite their own personal discomforts, took some time out of their week to share a belly laugh, a well-timed phone call, a hug or a gift with me. I have been stuck inside my body this week. Severe nausea, weakness, fatigue, sleeplessness and immobility have been wreaking havoc. I have lost any sort of navigation as to where I am in the cycle of this treatment.  Losing those landmarks, I found I was actually able to let go of some of the baggage I had picked up along the way.  I practiced letting go of the frustration of not being able to manage my external circumstances.  I laid in my bed, in my little orange room and looked at the beautiful color on the walls, the cloudy sky ceiling and thought, I love this house.  I might not like it in the state it is in at the moment, but I DO love it. I love my garden, my husband, my life. These dark moments are not what my life is, they are just momentary shadows that will soon blow over and reveal a brighter existence.


  1. Just discovered your blog. I was diagnosed with Her2nupostive in March. Just finished 6 rounds of chemo and heading into radiation next week.

    You are a very good writer! I love the way you interject humor into your posts.

    I think about the line in one of your other posts all the time now. You said: Everything in your life has changed since you were diagnosed with breast cancer and nothing in your life has changed since you were diagnosed. So true.

  2. Wow, I can so relate to this entry of yours. Know that there will be a rainbow at the end of your cancer journey. I am a seven year lung cancer survivor. I went through aggressive chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to remove the tumor. I was scared, tired, and sick but I felt such gratitude in knowing that we now have treatments so that we can live. My thoughts and prayers are with you and I'm glad I found your blog.

  3. I nominated your inspirational blog for an award. Just click link to see. Glad to be a new follower.

  4. Hi Lena! Good luck with your radiation treatments. Are you going to be taking Herceptin as well for the Her2Nu positive diagnosis? I start that after this A/C round is over. Thanks so much for stopping in, please let me know how you are doing time to time! ~Lori (aka Pixie)

  5. Hi Linda! thanks so much for your kind comments. I'm glad that my mental gunk is inspiration to others and there is some common truth about what it means to experience cancer. :) Lori/pixie

  6. I have been receiving the Herceptin right along. I had it with the chemo (taxetere and Carboplatin)every three weeks. I had my first infusion of just the Herceptin alone a couple of weeks ago. I will continue that until the spring, every 3 weeks.

    I did pretty well with the chemo. not too many side effects, but still had some unpleasant days.

    I find writing about the experience very healing.

  7. Lena, well you are the 2nd person I've heard from that the taxotere/taxol chemo isn't quite as bad as the Adriamycin/cytoxan regime! I'm hoping the same holds true with me! I'm interested to know how the herceptin alone thoughts are with you as you begin your radiation! Lori


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