Sorry this had to be a part two. I had a friend coming over.
A week after the surgery I checked back into the hospital for my first round of chemo. It wasn’t the normal hospital admit I was use to, but we rolled with it. The nurse was nice and went over everything with us. Dr. K wasn’t the doctor I saw when in the hospital. It was Dr. D this time. It’s the oncologist on call at the time. Dr. D came in and went over what I was getting and how we were going to do it. She asked if I had questions. No, the one thing I was most concerned about was side effects. You hear all the time about people having all these horrible side effects from chemo. I am the biggest wimp when it comes to throwing up. She told me with this type of chemo most people don’t have a lot of side effects.
Also now that doctors know all the bad side effects chemo has on people they know what could happen. So they give you what they call pre meds. I can see the good in this. I really can, but you just made take an entire pharmacy for side effects I MIGHT have. One of the ones I had to stand up for myself and refuse to take was stool softener. I won’t go into detail. But I wanted to bring up to tell you this. They give it to us because chemo might cause constipation or diarrhea. What if it’s diarrhea and they are giving you stool softeners?
The chemo wasn’t suppose to start until the next day. They give fluids before you start just in case you don’t eat and drink enough. Also an issue that came up later we had to fix. Anyway, the night before the chemo was to start and everything calmed down I was alone in my room. No family. No nurses. Just me. I think it was 10 pm. I picked up the cancer info book they gave me and started to look through it. When I was done I sat it on my tray table and cried. I would like to say this is when it hit me that all this was real, but no. I was crying because I was scared the doctor was wrong and I would throw up. I cried for a few minutes and posted my fears on Facebook. Then I turned out the light and tried to sleep. Anyone who has spent a night in a hospital knows they don’t let you sleep.
For the most part I was a model patient this time. I even made friends with the housekeeping staff. I am mobile and can use the real bathroom with out help. Really I don’t need the nurses for much. I only call them when the alarm on my IV goes off. My chemo meds are in an IV bag. This kind gets a lot of air bubbles. The nurse has to come and flick the line to get them out. It’s really annoying.
There was one thing I was and still am a butt about. You see they like you to get up and move around so you don’t get blood clots or fluid in your lungs. I get up and move around. I promise I do. But they want me to walk the halls. No. I won’t do that. I know this is because of my bipolar disorder. I was very clear with them that I knew that it was. I am a private person. I freak out if people touch my stuff or look through it. I don’t have anything bad they could find, but I get panicked like I do. I don’t have any problem talking to people about what I am going through, but walking down that hall makes me feel so exposed. I feel like my journey is mine and mine alone when I am there. I don’t want to share it with anyone else. As soon as they bring it up my hackles rise and I get ready for a fight. I will not do it. I think I feel more vulnerable at the hospital.
One thing that confuses me is how lonely I feel. Normally when I am not at work I stay home alone. I rarely socialize anymore. When people would ask me what I am doing on the weekend I am happy to say stay at home alone. But since all of this started I feel really lonely. Maybe because before at least I was working and there for around people. Now it’s either all day at home alone or all day at the hospital alone. I have a nurse coming in to do things like check blood return, give me pills, draw labs, and change out my chemo bags. I also have a nurses aid to check my vitals. But that is not the same. My Dad tries to visit as much as he can, but I feel bad because he really is burning the candle at both ends. He works all day and then comes to visit me. He has MS and it is just too much for him. My Mom comes a couple of times when I am there. She bring me stuff if I ask her.
I don’t know if she doesn’t visit much because her work or because this is just so hard for her. I am the baby of the family. When I told my Mom I had cancer she burst into tears. My Mom isn’t an emotional person. She has depression and keeps things bottled up. Her feelings are not for show. When her parents died I don’t remember her crying. I’m her baby.
My sisters were sick the first time I was in there so they didn’t come, but they dropped by the second time. A few friends dropped in the first time. My friend Sam who I have known for almost 11 years came both times. She has been great. Most days I sit by myself trying to keep from being bored. Being lonely is depressing, but still not actual depression.
They were worried about how the chemo would interact with my bipolar meds, but so far I haven’t gotten depressed or manic. I feel like people are watching me waiting for my breakdown. I’m not going to lie I have gotten sad. Having cancer is sad. There have been some tears. Like the day it hit me that this was all real. I had really had cancer. It’s not just some weird dream.
That would be not to long before my second round of chemo. That was when my hair started to fall out. At first it was a little bit. I made a few jokes about it on Facebook. Then it was big handfuls. Brushes full. Then one day in the shower I felt I tickle on my back. It came out a lot in the shower, but this day I reached around and felt all the wet hair sticking to me. I was covered in hair. I had really thick hair to start with, so there was enough hair to make someone else a wig. I blow dried my hair after and when I was done I turned around and looked at my bathroom everything was covered in hair. I looked at how thin my hair now was and I broke down and cried. That is when it hit me that this was really happening to me.
So, I cried and then I called my Dad to tell him it was time to shave it. Hair was getting everywhere and it was getting on my nerves. My Dad came and picked me up. We went to a place that he found that sold wigs for cancers patients. He paid for it. It looks very real. Then we went to his house and he shaved my head. I picked myself up and brushed that hair off. Alright now that this is out of the way it is time to check back into the hospital and I had stuff to do.
People keep telling me they are inspired by how well I’m handling it. In my mind, a bipolar mind how else am I suppose to handle it. Am I suppose to wallow in self pity? Am I suppose to get all depressed? Fuck that! I am a fighter. I always have been. If I can fight my own mind every day I can fight cancer. I having been fighting to survive my whole life. This time it’s my body not my mind.
Being bipolar has prepared for this. It had taught me to be strong. It has taught to fight for my life. It has taught me to pick myself up and keep going. ‘My story isn’t over yet’ has a new meaning. I’m not going down with out a fight.
I don’t know if you believe in God, but I do. I’m not here to preach. I am here to share my story. I believe God has a purpose for me. He always has. It is to help people. There has been a lot of ways I have done this in my life. I got hurt a lot trying to help people. So I stopped and put up emotional walls. I had just started trying again with this blog when I got diagnosed with cancer. I believe this is God’s purpose for me. Not only can I help people with mental illness, now I can people with cancer. Sharing my own personal experience. Talking to someone who has never been through it is helpful, but talking to someone who has gone through it is better. To try to explain how you feel to someone who has never felt it. I always think about the time I tried to explain to my psychologist what a manic episode felt like and compare it to the time I talked someone bipolar about what it felt like. Big difference! There have already been a few people I feel like I have been a able to help in at least a small way.
One of my nurses was telling me her daughter is bipolar. She was telling something her daughter was trying to explain to her about how she feels. The nurse said her daughter had too many voice talking to her at once. I said do you mean thoughts or voices. Big difference it what this poor girl has. It did turn out she meant racing thoughts. I explained that when you are manic that sometimes you have so many different thoughts at one time you can’t pick one train of thought. They are all going so fast and you can’t make them stop. I asked if her daughter ever talked so fast she thought she might pass out. She said all the time when she was a teenager. I told her she was manic. We talk so fast because we are trying to talk as fast as these thoughts are coming. We can’t keep up with them, but we feel we have to try. We talked about a few other things and she walked away understanding her daughter better. That is what I want to do with my life. That is my purpose.
I am a warrior. I am a survivor. If I can I’m not letting bipolar disorder take me down, then I’m sure not letting cancer.
1st Bald 2nd W/ the wig