Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Old Lady Transformation

I have concluded that I am turning into one of those morbid, old ladies who always talks about her impending doom.  This transformation has occurred slowly and anyone who knew me before the cancer knows that I have always been a little bit old ladyish, but things have only taken a turn for the worst.  It started slowly, but in the last few months has hit me full on.  Let me just explain a little how this all began.

Initially, I had a lot of back pain.  I did some physical therapy and that seemed to be helping, but not really.  You see the pain is actually caused by the swelling of cancer-filled lymph nodes in my stomach and lower abdomen.  When these swell up, the put pressure on my lower back and cause the pain.  Now, I often walk around with one hand on my back, slightly stooped, and I often shuffle.  I hate standing for long periods of time and get grumpy if I have to do any activity that involves copious amounts of walking or standing.  I frequently need to take sitting breaks.  So yes, I have the stature of an old lady and I have that whole cranky old person thing down pat.

The back pain is so bad that I have been placed on this wondrous drug known as the fentanyl patch.  It’s a little square sticker that adheres to my body and provides a continuous stream of narcotics.  Anyone who has a tolerance for opiates would rejoice in this new-fangled contraption whereas I curse the bloody thing’s existence.  It makes me so very sick.  Nausea is a continued problem.  That fancy, overpriced bracelet that I talked about in the last blog does not work.  I repeat, do not spend your money on it.  It did help a little bit, but it wasn’t really worth it.  Only after we (and by we I mean my lovely parents who are supporting and caring for me) purchased this contraption did we learn that it only lasts for 150 hours and has a battery that is not replaceable.  On top of that, it broke!  The part of the strap that connected to the watch-like center just popped off one day.  So good riddance to that worthless piece of technology.  Since then they have put me on stronger anti-nausea medicine, which does help quite a lot (it still doesn’t completely get rid of it), but also gives me really bad headaches. 

As a result of all of this pain and sickness I have lost an awful lot of weight.  I spend a good three days per week being unable to stand, read, or focus on anything without throwing up and then at least two  or three days recovering only to be hit again with another round of chemo.  I’ve turned into a vomiting slug.  Food is very hard to eat and to keep down.  First of all, eating causes pain.  Every time I eat something it ends up in my stomach and lower abdomen, which already don’t have that much room for extra stuff.   This equals more back pain.  On top of this, my stomach is never fully healed from all the acid that comes from vomiting on a regular basis so it just simply hurts to eat.  In the end, I’ve started to drink those Ensure shakes in order to sneak extra calories in.  You may have seen your grandparents drinking these or you may have seen the commercials with the old people talking about how great they are and nutritious… Yep, I have become the elderly.  Although, the chocolate shakes aren’t that bad.  They taste just like chocolate milk and if you throw them up it’s like throwing up chocolate.  It’s a win win situation. I wonder if they’d put this on their commercial? 

Aside from throwing up a lot, I’ve started all these little hobbies.  I have an herb garden that I occasionally putter outside to water and I’ve started to quilt.  Yes, that’s right, quilt.  I do, however, refuse to learn how to knit, crochet, or embroider.  Nope, I am not doing it.  Though, several people have suggested it.  I may have turned into a grandmother, but I’m a cool grandmother.  Just remember that, I am cool, okay?

I have also started to plan my funeral.  I consistently make jokes about my death and try to pass on beads of wisdom to my friends.  I also find myself saying, “Well, we better do that soon before it’s too late…” in ominous tones.  I’m sure they appreciate this.  They better because, hey, I might not be around much longer (see what I did there?).  I definitely want to be cremated and, if possible, have a tree planted over my buried ashes.  Except that this is really hard to do.  Most cemeteries don’t allow you to plant things because (and this is the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard) it makes it hard to mow.  Seriously, guys?  I mean my family pays for that land and then, in some cases, they continue to pay fees so that you take care of said land.  Honestly, they should suck it up.  So their job is a little hard, at least they’re alive to do it.  Anyway, rants aside, I really do want to have a nice funeral.  I know I’ll be dead and won’t get to enjoy it like everyone else, but there absolutely must be good food and alcohol.  I also really hope that everyone doesn’t wear straight black to my funeral.  I want to be remembered, not mourned. 

Anyway, life is just super frustrating right now.  I get winded just walking a mile on the days when I can walk.  Most of the time, I just hang out on the couch trying to figure out how to move or be comfortable without causing pain or vomiting.  I seem to lack a sense of purpose and, to be honest, death doesn’t look that bad.  Things do get better on my week away from chemo.  It just sucks that I feel so worthless most of the time.  Who would hire a girl who’s sick two-to-three days per week? No one would.  I could find a way to be self-employed, but it is hard to be motivated when your head is pounding or you think you might throw up at any second.  It just really sucks right now.  Maybe I will get used to this chemo and it will get better?  I don’t know.  We won’t really know until it happens.  Also, I won’t know if this chemo is even working until next week so it just feels like I’m doing this for nothing at the moment.  On the bright side, I have begun watching a great deal of HGTV and now feel confident that I could help you buy a house or redesign a room.  So yeah, I will sit here with my old lady self and wait.  Maybe next week we will get some good news and maybe we won’t.  The thing about having cancer is that you never really know anything.  Oh, and that it turns you into an old woman. 


  1. I am so sorry to read of your challenges. I think you will be remembered. And if they mourn you--well, it just will show that they loved you. They will remember your sense of humor and mourn that there will be no one *exactly like you* to make them smile in a blog like this.

  2. I think the key to writing well, is to be genuine. You have done both. Thank you, and I wish you health.

  3. It's too bad that you'd have to undergo all of this. And I know how frustrating it is to try out different things, only for them not to work at all. Have you found other methods to alleviate the pain? Perhaps you can find one way that could help you that doesn't have to be as nauseating as the patch.

    Agnes Lawson @ MedWell Spine, OsteoArthritis & Neuropathy Center