Danielle, how do you really feel?
It’s a fair question. But one that isn’t so easy to answer. It’s quite loaded.
How do I feel physically? I feel normal, aside from the two or three days chemo leaves me fatigued and not wanting to do more than lay around the house. The pain in my breast and arm have subsided. Which I am thankful for, that pain was a constant and irritating reminder of what was or could go wrong. I have some headaches here and there, but nothing debilitating that seems to cause any alarm to my doctors. Honestly I feel as though I shouldn’t complain, things could be so much worse. Here is to hoping that being tired (and being bored with being tired) is the worst of this. If this is the worst of it, I’d say I’m getting off pretty easy.
How do I feel mentally, emotionally, spiritually? This is the one thats a bit harder to respond to. I’ve always tried not to be a worrier, there has never been much sense in it. But I am human, and at times I can’t help but worry to some degree. Worrying for me tends to consist of mulling over those hard overwhelming questions (with some menial ones here and there). Questions or thoughts you can easily find yourself drowning in.
How long do I have to live? Will I ever have children? Will I find a significant someone to spend my time with? Would, it be fair to even pursue a relationship given my health? Am I doing the right thing? What is the right thing? Should I be sadder? Angrier? More scared? How should I feel? Do I need to know more? Do I want to know more? What should I share in my blog? What should I not share in my blog? Could I be working more? Should I be working less? Why is it so incredibly hard for me to buy/cook food? Why don’t I talk to people on the phone more? Does everyone who has donated to my mother’s YOUCARING fund truly know how sincerely and overwhelmingly grateful I am for all of them and their donations? Should I do, more to thank them? What more should I do? Is my current treatment really working? Should I be adding more to this regimen? How long will this all last? How long do I have to live? What will I be doing next year? Why does Pickle like toast now all of a sudden? (She also likes tortilla chips. And she even snatched a whole french fry out of MY HAND the other day when I wasn’t looking!) Is Pennywise (from Stephen Kings’ novel It) hanging out under my desk when I turn the lights off at night? Why can’t I find an affordable apartment near my friends? I am living in the right place? What’s everyone else thinking? Am I a burden or a bothersome obligation? Are people doing things for me out of pity? Am I pitiful? I’m doing this right, right? …
You get the idea.
One thing that I don’t ask, is “Why me?”. It feels strange saying it, but a lot of people have told me they admire my courage. I don’t necessarily think I am being brave. I’m looking at it as something that just needs to be done. Like paying bills (on time), brushing your teeth, feeding the cat. Because, what’s the alternative? A shortened life span and premature death – not happening. I cannot say I’ve actively made a choice, it’s more like innate self-preservation. So my instincts have led me to be courageous, I believe we all have this capacity given the situation. Which is why I kind of shrug off my bravery as nothing special it’s just a reaction to circumstance.
Today I went in for the last treatment of my second cycle. I will have six treatments and two cycles under my belt. Twelve treatments and four cycles left to go. My hair is falling out more and more each day. I do get angry when I see all the hair. Irritated by two things. First my vanity, get over yourself Danielle. It is hair it will grow back. Secondly, just the constant reminder of the cancer. It’s hard to put it to the back of your mind when I’m shedding worse than the cat. (I can no longer resentfully blame only her as I obsessively lint roll every inch of everything in my room.) It’s hard to not let a disease define your life and who you are. It seems even harder when you are in treatment. Being constantly tired, the hair loss, visits to the lab for blood work before every treatment. Such a prevalent part of my life currently. I keep telling myself there is an end date, which helps me push forward. But I can’t wait for this part to be behind me. I am scared of what’s to come. I continually find it difficult to wrap my head around the fact that this is something I will inevitably be dealing with for the rest of my life.
That was heavy so lets end this with an account on what I did on my chemo day today!
10am – Chemo: I went to treatment alone this week. I really don’t mind, in fact I think I prefer it. It’s under two hours, and I read or watch some streaming videos and its over. Got a private room with a view of the Observatory again. I saw Dr. Kwan. Earlier this week, I finally got around to getting the MRI of my brain done per the recommendation the UCLA doctor I went to see for my second opinion. I’m pretty sure I had been putting it off for as long as I did because I just couldn’t handle hearing another test had come back with signs of cancer. BRAIN SCAN IS CLEAR Y’ALL! My brain is normal – well physically speaking. (So, this is kinda of awkward but, sorry Pops. All those years you’ve been telling me there was something wrong upstairs. You were wrong! HA.) I also asked Dr. Kwan what she thought of me traveling to Florida – because the chemo suppresses my immune system. She said my weekly blood work has been coming back fairly normal. The white blood cells haven’t dipped to a level that raises any concern. As long as I take the necessary precautions and am careful about germ exposure traveling should be fine.
12pm – Lunch: my favorite part of the day. I went to Hache LA in Silverlake and got the Silverlake burger (its made with goat cheese, basil, tomato something-or-other, this fancy caramelized onion and olive spread I can’t remember the name of and that’s it – I think?) with triple fried garlic fries and an Arnold Palmer to wash it all down. Only thing is I had to order my burger well done. I felt so ashamed. I’m almost positive every time a burger is ordered well done, a fairy dies. Annnnnnnnd VERY BIG NEWS PEOPLE, are you ready? … I don’t think you are ready. While I ate I booked a flight to finally go back to Tallahassee!!!! (Yesterday April 27 marked 2 years I left Tallahassee for Los Angeles and sadly I have yet to go back for a visit.) June 1st – June 7th. Mark your calendars my Tallahassee babies because I’m coming home. I’m so excited I can’t type right.
1:30pm – Sunset Nursery: I had about half an hour to kill before my next appointment for the day. Went to my local nursery. Walked out with two new plants. … I need an intervention. Hello, my name is Danielle, and I’m addicted to buying plants. But, what the hell, at least I have chosen a “healthy” addiction.
2:20pm – Eye Doctor Appointment: which happened to be in the same building as my oncologist (and where I receive my chemo treatment). Nice how that worked out. Not much change in my prescription. Eye balls checked out alright. Finally ordered new contacts. Got my glasses adjusted.
4pm: The Wig Shop: as I mentioned earlier, hairs starting to really fall out. And I don’t mind rocking the buzz, it’s quite nice. But the bald patches are coming, and soon it will all be gone. The bald patchy look was so two years ago, and seeing as how its too soon to try to revive this old trend (dammit, why couldn’t I have gotten this cancer in 10-15 years?!) I went to check out some wigs for the days I don’t want to rock the turban. (Know this, the turban is iconic and will never go out of style. Danielle has spoken. “Thats true. Turbans be forever.” – H. Higginbotham) This great shop associate helped me out with some natural hair wigs but when I saw the price tag, we quickly switched to higher quality synthetic options. The first one she pulled for me (medium/long length with framing layers in a ombre of warm brown to blonde) was perfect. I played with the hair a bit. Brushed it with my fingers. Changed the part. Gathered, pulled low and to the side to see how it would look in a pony. Held back the framing layers to get a better picture of how they would be pinned back. It all looked good, I loved it, I FELT GREAT. I sent Amanda a picture, we agreed it looked like Danielle circa 2012. That was a fun time. I bought the first wig I tried on. No regrets.
6pm(ish): Heather & Bob’s house: came to motivate Heather to clean before her mom comes from Florida tomorrow. Emphasis on motivate (and not help). Sorry, not sorry. But, as I type away she is going at it like busy bee. Speaking of bee’s, she just saved my life by smashing the hell out of an unidentifiable insect meer inches from my face.
And now we have come to this present moment. Finally all caught up.
TEASER ALERT: I’m counting down the days till my Palm Springs/Cinco de Mayo getaway!!!! (6 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes and 32 seconds. 31, 30, 29 … ) But that is for a future post. Because it hasn’t happened yet, duh. Perhaps I shall include pictures?
I love you all.
Until next time.