As always, I am struggling between ambition and laziness. I usually resolve this by sitting all the way back on my pillows and typing with my keyboard on my knees. But since the ABVD and ICE, my circulation hasn’t been as great, so my hands go numb in this position.
All night I tried to resolve the nonstop, self-imposed chaos that I’d subjected myself to before the hospital stay. Work or work out or have fun, but always stay as busy as possible.
What happens when you don’t stop then have to stop all at once? A cliché. Now that my body has come to a screeching halt, my mind spins aimlessly like a top landing on incongruous topics. One night in the hospital, in a semi-sleep state, the murders from my mystery book haunted me and it fell to me to solve them. What was the connection between all these killings? I fretted, as I tossed and turned. How would I catch the killer?
Not even a seemingly innocuous book about food entrepreneurs provided relief. All that night, I wrestled with questions like: What is the valuable lesson a food entrepreneur can take away from this chapter? What’s the business takeaway here?
And somehow, in my dreams, I also had to figure out my own medications and cure my own disease. Everything was on my shoulders for my busy mind to solve.
I’d wake up, thinking I had the key to my book dilemmas or medication schedule only to be confused. Not even fully realizing that it wasn’t my problem to solve, I’d slip into another restless sleep, rushing to solve another problem.
All last night, I had similar dreams. I’m worried about the “chemo brain” or brain fog that I’ve heard accompanies these treatments. That’s what keeps me from doing more. Sending out misspelled, crazy missives. Or half-formed thoughts, like the ones in my dreams, darting away before I can get hold of them.
Mostly, I feel a little sleepy all the time. Like I could just lie down anytime and take a nap. The good thing is that I can. But it often doesn’t mesh. At times, it feels as if it’s my brain that’s sleepy and my body that feels wide awake, as it should after unlimited sleep. Yet it’s my body that’s actually taking it easy, as my blood counts drop and the chemo hits. My mind races around, trying to finish up last minute chores and assignments.
My digestive system is similarly not in sync with itself, but this is on purpose. From what I understand about these anti-nausea drugs, they work in your brain, not in your stomach. I could be wrong, but according to what I’ve heard, my stomach lining is well aware of the chemo and would be reacting accordingly. But the drugs tell the brain not to worry and in effect, not to be nauseated. (Essentially, that makes my stomach look unfairly like a liar.)
To be safe, I’ve been sticking with mild foods like oatmeal and soup. But another part of me — the unwise part — wants a big bacon cheeseburger. Every now and then, I get a little pang from my stomach, letting me know that, while everything is under control, don’t push my luck.
So I find myself on this hiatus of sorts, where I do what I can and what I’m up for. I can resume being a prolific Facebook poster, for instance.
It’s somewhat of a relief to wake up and not have a looming list of to-dos. I wouldn’t suggest cancer as an excuse for a staycation or a reason to take it easy if you can find another way. But I think that I haven’t taken some time for myself since before I lost my job this summer. Or before I found out about the cancer. I can’t even tell you the last time I truly relaxed without something else nagging me.
As I slip into a cat-like existence of naps and nothing, I still have to learn to let go of everything I felt I should be doing. When I get a good night’s sleep, not peppered by frantic problems, real and imagined, then I’ll be successful.