Daily Archives: September 2, 2011

About That To-Do List…

Now that I’ve already described the chemotherapy and hospital experience in great detail, I feel like I also need to describe the experience of being home when the dust finally settles.

Living at home with my parents (or dad, in this case, although my mom lives a 5 minute drive away), being off work, dealing with the side effects of chemo, and emotional aspects of having cancer, well it’s a lot!

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Archie, on "Cancer Guard" at the end of my bed at home.

The biggest thing I have noticed since being home is that my to-do has been drastically slashed. I used to be that girl who liked to schedule every free minute of her day with something to do. How do you think I managed to blog every day? My days were quite full! Geez, in my last year of university I took full-time classes, worked two jobs, and did one internship. It’s like I’m allergic to being bored or something.

I think a big misperception about being sick is that people assume the sick person sits at home all day in their pyjamas with nothing to do. This is kind of true, but I know anyone who has gone through chemotherapy will agree with me – I just can’t do as much.

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Each day, I do the normal things I want to do every day – blog, exercise, make meals. Then I choose one thing to do on top of that. Some days it’s going out to lunch, maybe visiting my mom, have a friend come over. Other days, a load of laundry is all I can muster. Some days I can’t even do anything beyond blogging.

Chemotherapy just takes it out of you. Plain and simple. Even on days when I’m not nauseated or experiencing bone pain, I am still always fatigued and tired. The kind of tired that doesn’t go away with sleep. The kind of tired that isn’t cured with caffeine or “breaking through” to get a second wind.

I have to be wise about it as well. For I have over-booked myself in the past while on chemo and felt like walking death after. I am always having to remind those around me that “no, this is it for me today.” As much as I would love to go from location A to location B, I think it’s time I go to location Home to rest.

The one thing that I miss the most since beginning chemotherapy is the ability to schedule my days full of fun activities. I miss having a healthy immune system that allowed me to go to farmer’s markets, concerts, busy restaurants, and bars. I miss having the stamina to spend the day baking and cooking in the kitchen.

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Baking chocolate beet cake on my birthday, 2010.

With all this said, I will assure you that I surprisingly never get bored. Between puttering away on my writing projects, reading, watching the TV shows and movies I never had time for before, and visiting with family every day, I don’t have a whole lot of time for much else. It just takes a loooooong time to do anything because I can only do so much over the course of one day.

Back in my prime exercise days, when I was training for triathlons, running races, or weight lifting programs, I dealt with regular injuries like anyone else. My mom would always tell me “Susan, an injury is just God’s way of slowing you down.” I always knew it was true, because without the injury I would have just kept going and run myself into the ground. The sore hip, stubbed tow, achy achilles, they all served their purpose of forcing me to sit on my butt for a week and take a rest I never thought I needed or deserved.

Well, I’m not sure what cancer says about my need for rest, but I am certainly taking the time to listen. And plan to continue listening once this cancer experience is over. I’ll definitely be more careful about over-booking myself in the future, and maybe take more time to read those books and watch those movies I always wanted to see.

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I am back to the red sands of the North Shore of Nova Scotia at my family cottage for the weekend. The perfect opportunity to rest, read, and go for a long walk on the beach. I wish everyone on chemo had a cottage to go to. Whatever you do this long weekend, be sure you get a little rest and relaxation too!!

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