the little engine that could

April 15, 2008 § 16 Comments

My blog is like a diet or health club membership. The longer I’m off it, the harder it is to get back on. I’ve had plenty of good ideas. I’m sure I have. I just don’t know what they are at the moment.

It’s been tough. I was two months out of treatment and still had days when exhaustion played the lead role. This wasn’t the “stayed up too late” tired. This was the “who stole my Chi” tired.

Three months out, no change. Four months out, and I realized I felt better during chemotherapy. That was a singular tell.

I was warned about the first year, that it was challenging. That it would take time to recover. There’s even a formula, for every month in treatment you need at least that much time to recoup. I was dismissive. I was different, more resilient. I exercised, ate well and went to acupuncture. This healthy trifecta should have made me a human superball; not only able to bounce back, but bounce back harder.

The only thing that was harder, was life, much harder than I imagined. Turns out I was different, but in a way no one would be envious. I couldn’t tolerate the drug that squelched roaming cancer cells by inhibiting my estrogen.

For months I’d naively pop the daily dose and by the end of the afternoon it felt like my muscles were being torn from my bone. Mornings I was an old engine. Sometimes I wouldn’t start. When I did start up, I was slow moving. Even up and running there was the threat of a breakdown. 

Was this my new normal? I was so far off my mark I didn’t rate a scorecard.

My doctors were sympathetic, but none jumped to conclusions. They suggested I wait another few months and see if things improved. I felt I waited long enough. I stopped taking Femara and for a couple of weeks, I joined the rebellious ranks of the non-compliant. With estrogen in my veins again, I had a joyful reunion with my former self. Enthusiastic, energetic, and able to stay awake past 8p.

The party lasted a couple of weeks, then duty-bound to live cancer-free, I moved on to a second drug designed to stifle estrogen. Aromasin promised solid results. With some luck, I would have fewer side effects. I was as lucky as an average lottery player and just as disappointed. Within a week, a veil of exhaustion descended on me, along with a full accompaniment of sweats and chills, sometimes up to 30 a day. Steady as a metronome, hot-cold-hot-cold a persistent beat of thermal extremes.

I’ve been on drug number three for a few months now and comparatively speaking, I am much better.

Seems the problem all along was my expectations.

I wanted to move fast. I wanted to catch up with everyone else and make up for lost time. I kept slamming on the pedal, but my engine refused to accelerate. It over heated and demanded adjustments, check-ups, tune-ups and attention.

Then I figured it out.

I’m a tempermental sports car, not a Hummer. 

Beep beep.

xoxo Momo


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