I Never Knew…

 

(DISCLAIMER: This is my experience with chemo side effects and is not the same for all who undergo treatment)

I never knew that I wanted to be tired. I wanted to feel that drag in my step after pulling an all nighter working on homework. I wanted to feel the pull in my eyelids as I chugged a coffee and trudged to my morning class. I am a night owl and I always have been. I thrive in the evenings and late at night when my mind can wander and expand on its own accord. I could spend hours working on one project or another and never lose steam until the sun rose. Once I completed that all nighter my second favorite activity was coming: dreaming. I love to dream. To know that my subconscious is still trying to surprise me around every corner of my own mind is an incredible thing. And when I wake, I will still be tired but satisfied and ready to go. That sensation of tired meant that I worked hard and I accomplished my goals I set out for myself. That sensation meant that I would get to sleep really well the next night because I earned that sleep.

I never knew that I was using the word “tired” wrong. No. Not wrong. Too lightly. I never knew that there was a spectrum of tired. There’s the tired that you want and then there’s a tired that exists that you can’t control. It is so extreme on the spectrum that it hangs precariously off the edge of the tired scale. Any little puff of air will push it right over. This is how I feel every other week. Uncontrollable exhaustion. I never knew that there should be a new word invented that is stronger than “fatigue” or “exhaustion.” Exhaustion is not strong enough to describe the sensation of needing to sleep after chemo (or I assume any other medical treatment). The sleep after chemo is empty for several days. There are no dreams or knowledge of time passing (even though you’ve been out for almost 19 hours). You can’t focus. You’re unmotivated. Your body is weighted down so heavily you’re unsure if you will ever leave your bed again. Being awake for more than a couple hours is a challenge. I never knew how badly I wanted to be awake. I never knew.

I know now.

I know now that it’s important to take care of yourself. To listen to your body and give it what it needs even if it isn’t what you want. If that means sleeping for 22 hours or stretching out sore muscles, then that’s what you do. Maybe it means you have to take some cold medicine to prevent the sniffles. Whatever it may be, listen to your body. You can’t ignore symptoms of illness because that cough could be a lot more than a cold. I know that when you take care of yourself, you will feel better. After a few days of intensive sleeping after the chemo, I become a functional human again and I can be awake and do what I want to do again. I don’t know what would happen if I were to push my body past its limits and I don’t want to know. That’s dangerous. Not just because of chemo but because a person’s body can only take so much stress before they collapse.

I know how to prioritize now. I know that my body and health come first. Resting and healing is more important. My education can wait. This blog can wait. It’s not that I won’t get to them, it will just take a little longer than normal. But I will get there.

I know that whatever it is you’re trying to push through isn’t worth the risk. You only have one body. Pushing through illness and exhaustion is not worth it. Go and rest. You won’t perform your best when you’re feeling sick. Go and take care of you. Everything else can wait. You will get there too.

 

Until next time,

Dana

The Redemption Batch

Here’s the story with these cookies:

I bake once a year during the holiday season. I don’t know if I’m overcome with some holiday spirit joy magic or what, but the need to make sugary goodness for others becomes real. I wanted to make cookies for my friends and family but I didn’t want to put in a bunch of work that I didn’t have time for. So I went to the store and purchased some chocolate chip cookie premix thinking that I’d save myself time and energy AND I’d get delicious cookies out of it. WRONG. I burned them. They were terrible. It was an embarrassing moment for all involved. I was so frustrated with the gross batch of pre-mixed cookie garbage I created that I had to redeem myself by making homemade cookies to prove to the world that I could, in fact, be a good baker.

So when I went home over the holidays, I found the old family cookbook that’s been in my kitchen cabinet since before dinosaurs roamed the earth and looked up the recipe that would save my reputation. In faded ink it read:

cookie

1 ½ cups softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
3 1/3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons salt
4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar together until light and fluffy
  2. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well
  3. Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually beat into creamed mixture
  4. Stir in chips
  5. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes and remove from pan

 

A bit of knowledge about this recipe should you try it:

You’re going to have SO. MANY. COOKIES.

I’m estimating here, but by the time you’re finished baking, you’re probably going to have somewhere around… 300,000 cookies. Probably. So be ready.

I’m totally kidding, this recipe yields about 8 dozen cookies in reality, but it definitely feels more like 300,000.

 

Now, this is not my first rodeo with this recipe, so it was a successful endeavor. Therefore, telling you the story of how they were made isn’t worth telling. However, I discovered one key fact about myself during this little event:

I REALLY hate baking.

When you’re creaming the butter, sugar and brown sugar together by hand with old, lumpy brown sugar, you’d hate baking too. I had to blare happy music to remind myself that I’m making these cookies for other people and cookies taste better when you put love into them, not bitter hatred and spite. And that was only during the first step of making this redemption batch! Imagine going through the rest of the cookie making process hating every step along the way! It wasn’t fun.

Long story short: I will not be making cookies until next holiday season when I forget what I learned this year. But I have been redeemed for now, so that’s all that matters.

 

Until next time,

Dana

 

Let’s Chat

Hi everyone,

13269362_495596163976343_2083116012_nHow are you doing? Well? Not so well? Hopefully you’re doing well. If not, I’m putting a picture of my dog in this blog post to brighten your spirits just a little. Look at that adorable face!

How am I doing? That’s a hard question to answer. Things are… seemingly good. My blood work is good, my apartment is not on fire and it is not a chemo week. Things are good. So why am I still making that grumpy face when I know something isn’t good?

It’s because we don’t talk anymore.

I’m not saying you and I don’t talk anymore. There’s a good chance I have no idea who you are so we’ve never met (Hi, by the way. Nice to meet you). I’m saying people don’t talk about the hard subjects anymore. When I say hard subjects, I’m referring to tragic events that have happened and once they’re over, no one calls it by what it is anymore (ex: bombings, suicide, abandonment, etc.) Why don’t we talk about them?

The easy answer would be “technology has ruined the future of communication,” but I don’t believe that. Others would argue “it’s not socially acceptable to bring up such things,” but I don’t believe that either. There are YouTube videos and blog posts and news articles about challenging content that we as a society choose to click away from. The opportunity is there and we do not take it. There are people telling their most personal stories to inspire others and we step away from them hoping that they’ll stop for our convenience. People pour their hearts into that work and we ignore it. For whatever reason, we don’t want to know. We don’t want to ask. I catch myself doing that all the time. In fact, I did it to a fellow woman who posted about her cancer story. I got about halfway through her story, realized that it was going to have a very sad ending and CLICKED AWAY LIKE A MONSTER. Who does that? Me. I did that. Why?

The answer is hard to admit: I was afraid. I was afraid to finish the story and to get to know this person even if I never got to meet her in real life. I was afraid to make a connection and care. I was afraid that what she had to say would alter the world that I live in now and I didn’t want my world to be screwed with. I have a whole blog dedicated to positivity and good vibes for people. To bring a smile to someone’s face when they need it. I could’ve reached out and sent her good thoughts or at least finished reading her blog post. But I didn’t do that and I should have.

So let’s talk for a second. Can we do that? Are we at that level yet?

Everyone has something that has touched their lives and yet they won’t talk about it because they’re afraid. Afraid of what others will say, afraid of the answers they’ll receive, whatever it may be. For me, it’s cancer (insert scary music here). I’m beginning to believe that there’s some folklore where if you say “cancer” in a darkened bathroom three times, a nurse with chemo drugs will pop up in the mirror.

It’s not that I’m afraid to talk about it but I’m afraid that what I have to say will turn people away so I try really hard to not talk about it unless it’s in a cancer update post. And even then I try to spin it in the happiest way that I can so I don’t alarm anyone.

Because cancer has become such a large part of my life so quickly it only makes sense that I think about it and talk about it a lot. I know that I have friends and family out there who want to ask me questions about it but refrain for whatever reason. So I want you to know something:

You can talk about it with me.

Cancer is a really scary word, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. The only way for our worldview to be broadened is by talking about the hard stuff. Cancer is unruly. It is real. It affects a lot of people, so let’s talk about it. Maybe then we can try to find something positive and good about something that’s really horrible. I’m not one for tip toeing around problems. I’m not a medical professional nor am I an expert on anything, but I am willing to answer any questions I can about it, so don’t be afraid to ask. Being curious about hard subjects is not wrong and shouldn’t be punished. The more we talk about these hard subjects, the more room there is for finding some positivity as we move forward in our lives.

Or, if you’re not ready yet, we don’t have to talk about it at all. We could talk about the weather or some other topic you’re really into. I am also down for that. You just let me know and I’m ready to listen.

 

Until Next Time,

Dana