I realized when the nurse practitioner told me I needed to do the ICE high-dose chemotherapy before moving on to the stem cell transplant that it was what I’d been expecting. My PET scan looked better, but it’s not 100 percent clear. The stubborn lymphoma spots in my chest and belly have decreased in size, and they don’t show up as brightly on the scan. So that’s good. But I still have to do the ICE. Close, but no cigar, Brentuximab.
Part of the reason that the doctors were doing this trial was to find a less toxic alternative to ICE. And ICE doesn’t sound pleasant. I allowed myself one blog read of someone who has gone through it, just to prepare myself without scaring myself.
On Monday, I pack up for three days and go to the hospital for round one of augmented ICE. Then I’m home for 21 days, while going in for blood tests and such, before going back for three more days of ICE. Then it’s on to the stem cell collection, then 10 days of radiation and the 21-day stay in the hospital for the transplant.
Everything’s going to change as of Monday, even if most of it is temporary. (After the stem cell transplant, I should be back to normal in about six months with a few long-term side effects.)
I feel as if I shouldn’t be writing this. Lately, no matter what I’m doing, I feel as if I should be doing something else. I have a limited time to do everything, a looming deadline that I can’t push back. I have work I need to finish, so I feel as if I need to get as much done as possible before I go into the hospital.
I won’t be able to work out for months. I’ve finally started doing yoga at home and a 20-minute Jillian Michaels workout. (I’m up to level two on the 30-Day Shred!) After six months of working out sporadically and about two months of barely working out at all, I’m finally getting stronger. I’ve even returned to a few kickboxing and TRX classes here and there.
But, of course, I’m going to have to take a long break again. So I also feel as if I should be working out more. Sometimes, I’ll sneak in some yoga, but I’ve usually been doing just the 20 minutes—and even that’s been hard to work in. Where does my time go?
I also feel as if I should be out having fun, though all this snow and cold makes me want to stay in and hibernate. And when I am out, what constitutes enough fun when the next few months are going to be no fun at all? There isn’t enough fun to be had. Am I failing at fun?
I picture this elusive fun as something like Mötley Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” video (though I’m not particularly comfortable with strippers or motorcycles) and Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer” (filmed not far from where I live, in much warmer weather, years ago). I should be carelessly frolicking or maybe doing something debauched right now. Instead I am inside, blogging, after working all day and doing my 20-minute workout.
There’s a perverse part of me that wants to see what I can get away with before my hospital stays. Sometimes, it’s all-or-nothing with me. When the radiology oncologist told me that I’d have to eat heart-healthy for the rest of my life, I wondered, “Should I just eat a bunch of double bacon cheeseburgers until then?”
I should be dining like a medieval king, eating giant turkey legs, swilling mead and making jesters entertain me. Tonight, I have veggie chili, tea and the cats—oh, and Homeland, which I’m catching up on. I should be living like Marie Antoinette in that Sofia Coppola movie, before the beheading. Mile End deli is having a poutine week, so I might indulge in that at some point.
I feel all this pressure to work, workout and have fun before the unknown fatigue and nausea of the next few months. Aside from that, another main factor, according to the doctors and nurses, is boredom. Apparently, I’m better than I thought at hiding my lazy streak. Everyone seems to be underestimating how good I can be at doing nothing.
I’m glad that all the hard work I’ve put into appearing hard-working is working. People assume that doing nothing will bother me. I know that, since I say I’m stressed out about having fun, it doesn’t seem like I’m capable of relaxing, but that really is my natural state.
I achieve a delicate balance of hard work and utter laziness. A few weeks ago, I worked from 9 am to midnight, with the exception of a radiology appointment. (Even at the appointment, before seeing the doctor, I had my laptop out, working on a last-minute assignment.) And I did my quick 20-minute DVD, which is essentially working out really hard so you don’t have to work out as long. Later that evening, my idea of good planning was wearing a navy T-shirt because we were having pasta, and I thought there was a good chance I’d drop some on myself. So on one hand, I got a lot done, but on the other, I’m too lazy to properly feed myself.
Last week I achieved my main sloth goal, which was to not leave the apartment during the deep freeze. I also managed to see some friends who I haven’t seen during my hibernation. One of them lives just a few blocks from me and when I finally emerged from near hermitage to go to chemo on Friday, she lured me over with cookies.
That’s about as crazy as it gets around here, before my months of being somewhat of a shut-in begins. I’ll be enjoying time with my boyfriend, friends and cats (sadly banned from hospital visits) before my time of rest and recovery. However, two friends gave me a cat totem to take with me in lieu of my cats, and my boyfriend’s mom made me a blanket with a cat pattern, so I can be properly identified as a cat lady in the hospital.
This week, however, you will probably not see me cruise by on a motorcycle or dancing on rooftops or throwing bananas at cops—at least not if this snow prediction is accurate. I’ll have to save that for after the transplant.