I have been putting off writing this one because the days after chemo have been a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings. As I indicated about this chemo, my mind wasn’t in the right place for the beginning of round number 5. I am just done. I am done feeling ill. I am done feeling tired. I am done missing school. I am done having to go to the British Hospital four times a week for different things. And then while I was feeling completely defeated, I would get a card from someone back in the states or a note from someone at school or a student would compliment my outfit or I would get my usual Javi hug.
The actual days after chemo were tremendously hard. I just didn’t feel good and didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I wasn’t sleepy. I didn’t want to move from the couch, though my body was sore from inactivity. I didn’t want to eat much or do much. My chest hurt. I felt a bit dizzy. The gas almost poisoned me as much as the chemo. And my body was the weakest it has been so far. The mind is incredibly powerful. I swear I have gotten through the other chemo treatments on shear positivity alone. Without that this time, I was in a dark place. My friends came over on Saturday to get me out of that dark place. That helped. But even sitting around my table and sharing stories, I looked at the glasses of wine like they were my enemy, just another reminder of what I miss and what I cannot do. And I had such resentment toward that red liquid that was making my friends cheerful and lubricated for the evening. They were heading out for some fun and I had to kick them all out so I could go to bed at 9:00. I don’t even feel like a loser anymore. I just feel tired of it all.
While I wasn’t 100% by Sunday, I felt confident that I was going to make it to school. I forced myself to make great lesson plans. I wanted to be the best I could be in the little time I had feeling well. Sure enough, Monday rolled around and I was feeling pretty good. Despite my bounce-back I was not able to sugar-coat my chemo experience for people this time. When I was asked, I was honest. This was my worst one so far. And that is with the painlessness of the port. Monday afternoon, I made it home to two boxes from Becca and Pamela Cork. Both made me smile and both were super sweet. They reminded me that I have people back home in Nashville for whom I need to get better to see them in June. (By the way, Nashville people, I am coming home June 24th -July 1st.)
Tuesday through Friday I felt great! I had some stellar lessons, I only let one class of students bum me out with their lack of performance, and I felt really connected to the people at school. There were conversations about school things instead of my health. For moments I was back to my defining identity, a teacher. I received a sweet letter from my friend at school and then had a really nice Rambla walk and chat reunion that was much overdue. I came home to card after card after card from Lile Rogers. It was like the Uruguayan postal system knew that I needed some happy this week. The weather was perfect all week. The sunrises were breath-taking. Leo was his grumpy old self but functioning. Nico and I had our usual Wednesday date night. Katie and I had a last minute date night at a fancy restaurant. Mom made delicious meals. And the kids were all fine. I felt better this week than I did all of last week, maybe even the week before. I got my shot on Friday and didn’t have many side-effects. And I went to sleep almost every night by nine making both my body and my mother happy.
But all of the uphill was bound to come down. On Saturday, I made my way back to the British hospital for my Saturday shot. Thankfully, I didn’t have to get three this time. I woke up dizzy, which just pissed me off. Arn’t these stupid shots supposed to be helping with that?! I had to leave my amazing parking spot right out front of my apartment on Feria day, meaning I would never get it back. And I was heading back to the British hospital again for another injection. As many pins and pricks as I have had this year, I still fucking hate needles. My nurse asked me a basic question in Spanish that I didn’t understand properly and answered like an imbecile. Walking out of the hospital, my arm hurt, my head hurt, my back hurt, and my feelings hurt. I had a nice little meltdown. One lone tear slipped. So, I bought myself a diet coke and a strawberry cheesecake from the cafeteria. Then I hurried to Leo, where I had meltdown number two. I got home and had meltdown number three. Was told my car was parked in a tow zone. I moved the car. And had meltdown number four. Once the crying started, it just would not stop. No matter how much I wanted it to. It made me realize that the last time I cried like this was when I was in the hospital for my white cell problems. That was in January. It was about time for it all to catch up to me and boy did it ever. As lucky as I have been in this process with minimal symptoms and a PET that shows it all working, as supported as I have felt from people in all of my communities, I still have cancer and it all just doesn’t make sense. It is still really unfair.
Despite the ups and down, the climbs and the drops, I couldn’t wallow in self pity for long. It just isn’t me. Mom took me out for some pizza, something I have been craving for a while. Even though I couldn’t have a glass of wine, the gluten goodness made up for it. We walked to the grocery store and walked home, watched a Good Wife, and then Nico joined us for the weekend. He has a test coming up in his university class, the first one and things my house is less distracting…haha. Although he isn’t nervous about this test, per se, he is taking it seriously. So Mom and I attempted to make Milanesa. I must say, it was a pretty good first attempt. We experimented with breading once or twice. We both think once is better. Nico ate both heartedly. While he studied, I got school things completed. I even came up with a last minute way to support our Seniors through mocks. As Mom pointed out, I am much happier when I am focused on making other people happy. I really think our little mock puns will make our kiddos smile.
Y ya ta. Another week down until May 2nd. 33 more days until my final chemo. 37 days until I start to feel normal again and can have my first adult beverage in 6 months. And you better believe that I am having a Kim-O de Mayo Margarita.