Who knew that a sore head was a precursor of chemo hair loss? I certainly did not, and, my Chemo team at the cancer center never mentioned this side effect to me. When my scalp started hurting on Sunday night, I thought I had gotten a little too aggressive while washing my hair. Then, on Monday night after my shower, I looked down and there was a lot of hair stuck all over my skin. I reached up and tugged a little and, sure enough, more hair came out in my hand. It was exactly two weeks to the day after my first Chemo injection, which was a little surprising because they told me it might be two weeks after the second injection that I would lose my hair. As I stood there contemplating what to do, all I could think about was that I was shedding worse than my two dogs. Picturing my bed sheets covered in hair every morning, I thought, “This hair has got to go!” Once I make up my mind about something, I swing into action; later is not in my vocabulary.
My husband, nice and comfy in his recliner, engrossed in something on his iPad, looked up in surprise when I said, “I’m shaving my hair, come on, you may have to help.” Because he’s kind, because he loves me, and because he knows the futility of arguing with me about anything lately, he got up out of his chair, followed me into the bathroom and helped me hack off my hair with the dog clippers. I know that a lot of women have issues with losing their hair, but, it wasn’t very traumatic for me. It’s temporary, I’m not embarrassed to wear the chemo caps and I did buy a wig for special occasions. I don’t get embarrassed easily. When I was younger, as I was preparing to go out, I would ask my son, “how do I look?” His reply was always, “Mom, why do you care what you look like, you’re married.” He obviously had no idea what goes on in a woman’s mind about her physical appearance. But, as the years went by, I would repeat his little “words of wisdom” to myself whenever I was in too much of a hurry to put on makeup before I went out. I would think, “I’m married, who cares?” Living out here in the country, getting all dolled up to go out is NOT necessary; so, in my mind, losing my hair is the least of my problems. Though I do strive to look presentable and not like the hag who gave the apple to Sleeping Beauty.
I do, however, have a new issue that is extremely problematic. This started around the same time as my sore scalp. My left foot, at least three times a day, with no rhyme or reason as to when it is going to happen, feels as if I have a broken bone and I can’t put any pressure on it. It is so dangerous when I am walking and it happens, because it almost trips me up. But, after a few minutes of waiting for the pain to go away, it is gone just as abruptly as it first appears. This is so weird, like everything else that has been happening to me. As my Chemo nurse likes to tell me, “everyone’s symptoms are unique to them.” I don’t much care for this uniqueness stuff. I’ll have to ask the doctor what is up with that.
I’ve been making dog food for the past two days. It takes a while, cooking and de-boning the meat and cooking all the other good stuff that goes into it. Yes, I make my dog’s food, and it is a pain in the neck, but they are worth it. It’s the kind of job I love because you can do it on “auto pilot,” like folding clothes, washing dishes, or driving. If there is no noise in the background my thoughts just wander where they will and very often God speaks to me during those wanderings. He is always there, listening and encouraging us to go “deeper” into our relationship with Him. We do that by sharing our deepest feelings, thoughts, and concerns. It doesn’t even have to be “out loud.” God knows our thoughts and enters into them.
As I mixed all the ingredients in the giant stainless steel bowl I use to make the dog food, I thought of the past two weeks, all the surprising side effects (well, surprising to me) and how I was finally learning to deal with them. Because I was able to figure out the meds and how to take them, I have been feeling pretty good these past few days. The nurse was really surprised that I haven’t had any nausea, thank the Lord for that. Thinking of all that has happened, I know it could have been much worse. All the people who have walked with me these past two weeks made the struggle bearable for me – without them, things would have seemed so much harder than they were. God bless them!
My doctor’s visit was also on my mind. Anyone who has had cancer, or has had a family member with cancer, would know that doctor’s visits are always stressful. What will the news be, something new, something worse, something wrong? I was beginning to stress about it. What if the doctor was wrong about the mistake in the Pet CT? What if there was no mistake and I did have cancer everywhere? I knew I was being ridiculous, but the thoughts were tormenting me. “Okay,” I said to myself , “get it together for goodness sake.” “These thoughts are NOT from God,” I mused, “God is an encourager, one who gives hope, who fills you with courage, spirit, and confidence.” One of my favorite scriptures came to mind, “…be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9). A scripture reading from my morning prayer also filled my heart, “Choose life, then, that your descendents may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
God is so present when we open ourselves up to Him, always ready to console us, and help us to discern truth, the truth that comes from God’s Holy Word. My little consultation with our Lord brought me peace once again, and strength for the journey and for my doctor’s visit. I will hold on to the Word whenever I am afraid, keep the faith, and trust that the Lord is always at my side.