I knew it was coming, and thought I was prepared for the exhaustion and the chemo side effects I had side-stepped by taking mega doses of prednisone this past week. It started on Saturday morning when I woke up. My mouth was sore from the ulcers, my teeth hurt, my tongue felt weird, my body was radiating low-grade pain from one area to the next, and my bones ached, a lot.
I’ve never been a morning person, never. On school days, when I was a young girl, my mom would try to wake me up by singing her favorite morning song to me, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.” My momma loved to sing, she sang all the time. I used to love to sing along with her, belting out the old gospel hymns she taught me. But, on school mornings, I would stuff the pillow over my head and beg her, “Momma, please stop singing!” Should I be foolish enough not to get out of the bed after the first song, Momma would begin to sing, “Lazy Mary Will You Get Up,” incessantly, until I would, finally, throw the pillow to the floor, and petulantly stomp out of the room. Oh, if only I could have just one of those precious days back with my momma.
I think about and miss my mother even more so since my cancer diagnosis, than I did before. I know if she were here with me as I battle this disease, she would bring much needed sunshine into the difficult times ahead. But, I still carry her love in my heart, and her songs, and the many wise things she taught me.
Sorry, I digress; the topic of this post is supposed to be how I am dealing with the ever increasing side-effects of the Chemo and the Nuelasta Injection.. My usual morning blahs were nothing compared to these new feelings of being unwell. It didn’t sit well with me and made me grumpy. Really, I had no idea how to deal with this new person I was becoming. Full of wandering aches and pains, what was I supposed to do with myself? Sit on the sofa and “rest” as my husband kept advising me to do.
“Morning prayer will get my head on straight,” I
thought. I grabbed my little book, Give Us This Day (Daily prayer readings)
and went to sit in the recliner by the front window of my house which overlooks
my porch and the Purple Martin gourd racks.
It is my prayer spot some days.
Opening the book to Saturday’s prayer, some of the lines from Psalm 3
jumped out at me.
“…you, Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, who lift my head…I lie down, I sleep and I wake, for the Lord upholds me…I will not fear.” Sitting there pondering those words of comfort, I heard the sound of birds singing near the porch, and glancing outside, I noticed the bright orange-red blooms of the azalea bush near the window. Both made me smile and instantly cheered me. I sat there for a moment listening to the birds and gazing outdoors. “Thank you Lord,” I prayed, “In your Holy Word and in nature, that is where I find my peace.”
I know that God loves me through nature; I am one with it. It always connects me to God, leading me to prayer, praise and gratitude. So this little hiccup in my prayer didn’t bother me. I accepted what I call God’s “love tap,” my dose of nature love from the Heavenly Father, took it all in, and then asked Him to help me refocus on the rest of the readings. My morning prayer time links me to God, in an intimate way, and helps me to become more aware of His presence and guidance as I face each new day and its mounting challenges.
After prayer, I just really needed to be outdoors.
Overprotective Hubby, who seems to have appointed himself my guard, graciously acquiesced to my plea to be allowed to walk my dog. Of course, he insisted on accompanying me, as if I might try to make a break for it, escaping the bonds of cancer treatment by hiding out in a log cabin somewhere deep in the woods; hmmm, I kind of like that image.
Let’s just say we are both – not ourselves – at the moment.
Along with battling constipation from the meds, and the rest of the side effects, each time I eat, it feels as if a lump forms in my chest and it’s very uncomfortable for hours. It would probably be a good idea to follow the dietitian’s suggestion of eating 6 small meals a day. Stubborn person that I am, I like to try things my way first. When will I ever learn?
As I was preparing for bed, feeling pretty darn miserable and sick, an old time gospel song my momma used to sing started playing in my head. “You gotta walk, that lonesome valley, you gotta walk it by yourself, ain’t nobody else gonna walk it for you, you gotta walk it by yourself.” Momma had a song for every situation and I couldn’t help but think she sent this song to me – to let me know she was near, to bolster my flagging strength, and give me the courage to hold on to my faith and walk-the-walk, following in Jesus’ footsteps.
This Joan Baez Video of the song says it all:
It seems as if the song of last night was a harbinger of worse things to come. I woke up on Sunday, still feeling awful, but managed to pull myself together enough to walk the dogs. If Rosie doesn’t have her walks and Frisbee fetching time, nobody gets any peace. I don’t want to think that there might be a day when I can’t force myself to get off the sofa.
After lunch, I fixed myself a bowl of cabbage and rice soup thinking this, along with the meds I’d been taking for it, would alleviate the constipation. Wrong, I was so wrong. All it did was add gas and bloating to an already bad situation. After four hours of excruciating pain that I thought I would surely die from, I got some relief. If I never have cabbage, ever again, it will be too soon for me!
After getting very little sleep last night and having dropped six pounds since Friday, I was thoroughly exhausted, depleted and dehydrated. This morning after speaking to the nurse, I went into the Cancer Center to get some much needed IV fluids. My doctor did tell me that the first few weeks of Chemo were going to be a learning “curve” for me. How right he was!
The one lesson I am going to take away from this past week is that I will never take good health for granted, ever again. And, that I should never forget to offer up prayers for others who are suffering the effects of addictions, mental disorders, diseases, cancer, and poor health. May God in His mercy have pity on them, console them, and give them courage, strength, and peace.