Minor Changes

I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. This chemo process has rewired something inside because I’m not always tired enough during the day to take a nap, except on Days 5 and 6.

Days 4, 5 and 6 after chemo are different. I’m a bit foggy on those days and a bit achy on days 5 & 6. Again, I’m done deciphering “why” and trying to get comfortable with “I am” and going with the flow, with the help of a little Ibuprofen. The slow flow of not doing too much other than sitting with warm corn bags on my shoulders and a cup of tea and perusing catalogs for Christmas ideas. Then boom. That elusive nap happens. I pull on my cap and take a nap.

Then on Day 7 I wake up and feel different. No aches.

I feel full Days 3 through Day 6. I’m going to take Nexium next time round. It’s not a nauseous feeling, proven by the fact that Bill’s tortellini and meatballs smelled so delicious last Sunday night. I just felt like I had no physical space to put food.

Through Day 7, sadly, coffee does not taste good. My strong, dark Sumatran Reserve tastes revolting all the time. I brew a cup of Breakfast Blend or a cup of tea and gently sip at it. Lack-of-caffeine headaches are second on my avoidance list, not far behind nausea.

My Trident mint gum is also revolting. I never thought I would be a watermelon-flavored gum person. But it tastes best. Liam agrees.

My appetite from Day 7 on has grown. My oncologist said it could be attributable to the steroid in those first few days of pills. My body needs a lot of protein. I used to be a granola-bar-on-the-way-out-the-door breakfast eater. Now I have that before taking the boys to school. Then I go home for my new standard: two eggs, meat, cheese and two pieces of toast. Or my latest and greatest: grilled meatloaf and cheese sandwiches. Yes, for breakfast. When my sister visited in October, she made a huge batch of meatloaf and froze it in individual squares. We thought it would make for easy dinners, but it’s been useful for solid breakfasts! I’m eating bigger portions but my jeans are not getting tighter.

(Detour: Within six hours of writing this, sausage is too spicy. One bite sets my mouth and throat alight. Wow. I dug through the garbage yesterday to make sure Peapod didn’t mis-shop and give me extra spicy. No. Regular. Did Jimmy Dean get his packaging mixed up?? I think I’ll not chance it again. Thankfully, if the sensitivity to spiciness continues, I love boiled potatoes with butter. Good old Iowa carbs -- they're grown in bulk in IDAHO but we eat a lot of them in IOWA.)

I’ve discovered a couple friends are up for breakfast some time, occasionally replacing coffee at Starbucks. They are researching breakfast haunts in town. I can’t wait for our first outing. However, I must say, on Day 6, the Starbuck’s Café Mocha was most tolerable.

With these changes, I have a new appreciation for stability. One of my newly respected at-home tasks: laundry. No matter what my body is going through or how it is changing, the mountain of laundry (the castle, as Liam calls it) is the same. The division of the laundry is the same. I murmur in a therapeutic rhythm that matches the toss of each piece, “Dark, dark, towel, jeans, white, Bill’s shirt, jeans, towel, dark, white, towel, towel, Bill’s shirt, towel, towel, towel…” That’s it. No unpredictability there. I know exactly what will be in that mountain before I start sorting.

Yes, a preponderance of towels. With my little germophobe hat on, towels are one-use only then dunked for a spin in hot soapy water. Consequently, when the laundry gets a little backed up, I occasionally have to dry off after a shower with one hand towel and two washcloths. We used to run out of underwear first, now we run out of bathroom linens.


Staying strong and dry – one way or another, Linda