My name is...
Today would have been a day that I was going in for chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
I would have spent most of the day alternating between:
This was not a happy picture.
I would have woken up with nausea followed by running out side to throw up. That was the start of every other Thursday for the last 2-3 months.
But, I’m done now. I go in for a PET (to show activity of tumors) and CT scan (to show size of the tumor) next week to confirm that the tumor that was compressing my superior vena cava (the main artery to my heart from my brain) is gone.
Here’s a quick recap of chemo and its effects on me:
I have no hair between my knees and my nipples. Yeah…that’s right. Bald baby.
I have more belly button lint now. Perhaps because I don’t have hair around my navel to catch anything.
My nails, while still growing fast, are soft, thin and are not growing in a straight line. They actually grow around the contours of the tip of my finger now. I think the growth is a good sign, but the other issues are obviously related to the chemo attacking fast dividing cells.
I have hair on less than a third of my head. Chemo and fast dividing cells.
No eyebrows...look for a blog post called “ode to eyebrows.” It’a amazing how much facial expressions rely on eyebrows.
My stomach bloats up easily and I sometimes still feel nauseas.
No moustache hair. But I am still growing my side burns and beard. Go figure that one out.
My thought processes are still slower than normal.
No nose hair. While that might not seem like a big deal it does lead to awful post nasal drip. In fact, the post nasal drip was a big reason why I would throw up. Swallowing snot every 15 minutes would sometimes cause me to initiate a gag reflex. I would blow my nose, but, you can only blow our nose so much.
This is my "don't throw up face." It didn't work very well. This was also the day I got my port out (last Friday). No joke - I threw up every 15-30 minutes from the time I woke up to the time I got an IV.
Low appetite, thankfully that is pretty much back to normal baring the bloating.
Incredibly low tolerance for physical exertion.
I get winded easily. Talking and walking will do it.
Bitchy…maybe not bitchy, irritable? I was never one who had a patience issue, but I find myself with low patience and just generally not putting up with bull shit.
There are more emotional and psychological issues (memory issues, attention issues, low tolerance for high mental output, mental fatigue, decision fatigue, etc.) then what I listed. But of all the effects, explaining the emotional aspects of the chemo process is the hardest.
My balance is easily that of someone 30 years older than me.
My coordination is diminished.
A rather odd one – my feet are soft. I would go barefoot all the time in the gym. And, while I wouldn’t put myself as a Mick Dodge, my feet were pretty tough. Now, they are soft and easily bruised and bothered by going barefoot.
Of course my strength is lower than what it normally is (but still stronger than most!) which absolutely contributes to my balance and coordination.
Those are the majority of the symptoms. I am probably forgetting some, but that’s a pretty good list. Shit…looking back on that list, it’s almost a page in my word document.
The docs say that I was “one of the un-lucky ones” and seemed to get most of the side effects of chemo. They think because I was falling from operating at such a high level that it affected me very negatively.
I think it was more just the fact that they were pumping a derivative of mustard gas directly into my heart through my superior vena cava (Yep…same one. We actually had to go two treatments of chemo before I would let them put the catheter into my SVC.).
Just thinking of that makes me a little nauseas.
Today is a happy day!
Today is a great day!
Today I will not throw up!
Today I will give a hug to every person I can (and remember to…if you see me make it easy on me and hug me first today).
Today I get to see some of our members because we have a member appreciation BBQ – that makes me happy.
Today is a happy day.
For 6 months I did something I didn’t want to do.
It caused me way more discomfort then any work out I have ever done or any training I have ever partaken in.
I didn’t step out of my comfort zone – I was dragged, handcuffed, hogtied and carried out of my comfort zone while I dug my teeth into the ground trying to prevent it.
That’s not actually true.
I did the best thing for my condition – I chose the lesser of two evils.
In all reality – I reluctantly walked out of my comfort zone into a zone of pure hell.
Hell at least for me.
A hell where my body didn’t obey my thoughts and where my beliefs were radically altered.
A hell that changed me…
So while you sit here and read this – I hope you are in a good place, a happy place in your own life.
If you’re not – what will you do to change it?
Surely the change you want/need to adopt is less than the change that was thrust upon me.
Maybe you know you need to:
Eat more veggies.
Eat more protein.
Go for a walk every day.
Join a gym.
Quit your job.
Have that “talk”.
Just shut up and do it.
Whatever it is, it’s not the hell that I just have to go through. And it’s not going to be anywhere as bad as you think it’s going to be.
My name is Ben, I was a fitness freak and for the last 6 months, I had poison pumped into my body to kill a party of me that just wouldn’t stop growing.
My name is Ben, I was a health nut and for the last 2 months, I was too sick and tired to blog, read, write, prep and cook my meals or otherwise be healthy.
My name is Ben, I was an entrepreneur and for the last 9 months, I haven’t worked or grown my business.
My name is Ben, I kicked Cancer’s ass and as I write this I am tearing up because I have the rest of my life ahead of me.
My name is Ben and I am so happy today.