Kicking Breast Cancer's Butt

It hasn’t seemed like it, but every day I am getting a little bit stronger.  The progress has been very slow, in my opinion.  Apparently, my expectation was I’d start to feel better pretty much immediately after my final infusion.  I was willing to compromise at a week to 10 days out.  Of course that hasn’t been the case.  Friday I started to think “what if I never get any better?”

The insurance company has been bugging me to submit some forms to apply for social security disability, and I’ve been a real stubborn bitch about not sending it in. Finally did, thinking “This is completely stupid, social security means permanently disabled, which I am not.  I just need a few more weeks to get through radiation.”  But Friday in the shower, I started thinking “The lady from the insurance company is right to ask for that stuff.  I’m not getting any better, and in some cases, I’m worse.  Nails hurt worse than ever, the nail on my left thumb is definitely jacked, and I’m probably going to lose the nails on both big toes.  My feet and ankles are throbbing right now, and I shuffle around the house like an old woman by the end of the day, even if I’ve been sitting on my ass the whole time.  I’m so tired, I want to cry.”

What if this is it?  The painful feet, the fatigue after doing simple things, like taking out the trash AND doing one load of laundry, when I think for 5 whole minutes “Oh, yeah!  It’s all coming together now!” And then my fatigue sneaks up on me from behind, taps me on the shoulder, and says “Wait a minute, stupid. Wham!”  I hit the wall so hard, it takes my breath away, and I flop into a chair, panting and frustrated, because I see 10 more things that need to be picked up/put away/washed/thrown out.

So I whimper, grind my teeth, and say a curse word or two, or vent at Ken through my tears.  Then I give up for the day, and find an old episode of Perry Mason or Bones, and veg out in front of the television until the kid comes home.

But a couple of days of that, and I’m right back up, running smack into the wall again.  Over, and over, and over.  But here’s what I finally noticed today.  I run into that wall, true, and it hurts.  But every time I run into that wall, I move it a little farther, and farther out.  I did three loads of dishes yesterday, and cooked dinner last night, and I wasn’t completely out of my mind in pain, or exhaustion.  Woke up today (despite the continuing insomnia) and my feet weren’t completely on fire.  I’ve done two loads of laundry, one load of dishes, and I’m still standing.  I’m thinking, maybe I’ve turned a corner.  Maybe I’ve finally broken down that wall.  Then I get in the shower, and there go my feet, there go my nails again.  And there goes the all over body ache.  Shit.  All I’m doing is standing in the shower, and BAM!  There’s that f-ing wall again.

But also notice I’m still standing.  I might need a nap in a minute, but right now, I’m still standing.

3 Responses to I Keep Running Into The Wall

  • Tina, absolutely apply. When you are well enough to return to the workforce you can stop but meanwhile it is a source of income. My dr had me apply a year and a half ago and I am still on it. At first I was embarassed to admit it to anyone….me, kickass employee of the decade. Now, I accept it. There are good and bad days and my brain says “I can return to work” some days…then my body responds with pain and brings me back to reality. I miss my work income level but am thankfyl I have some income to help keep us going. It is there for these times, and yes….apply….and discontinue when you are fully recovered and back to being able to work. Love you!

  • Hi Tina,
    It does get better and you do get stronger. You’ve been through rough treatment, and what people often don’t tell you is that those chemos seem to get exponentially harder with each one. My last chemo knocked me for a loop for about three or four months. I remember a long period of “I feel like crying, but that would take way too much energy.” Radiation will become routine as well, and it could be that you will even start feeling a bit better. You are right, it is slow progress, but you are noticing progress and that is a step in the right direction. When you are going through it, it is just hard to believe how long it takes to feel a tiny bit better.
    Say hi to Ken, from one of his astronomy forum friends and you guys hang in there. 🙂

    • Karen,
      I had to laugh out loud at your comment “I feel like crying, but that would take way too much energy.” Because that is so real. There were days, long days running, when Ken would be talking to me, and I would just look at him, barely registering what he was trying to communicate. I didn’t know if I was just too exhausted, or if I really didn’t understand what he was saying to me, I was in just a fog. I would have cried then, but as you say, I couldn’t spare the energy. I hated those days.
      Now, I have energy not only to do the dishes, but also to get mad about things going on in the world (when I couldn’t give a rip 2 months ago), and laugh and be completely, ridiculously silly with our daughter. That right there reassures me that things are improving. I forget that sometimes.
      Thank you for sharing your experience. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve clung to that story like a buoy in an ocean of fear.
      I’ll let Ken know you said hello. 🙂


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