Between fourth and fifth chemos

Things have been pretty low the last week, or rather, I have been pretty low. The first week after chemo, I lie low, which this week was spent baking and decorating my fancy cookies for Valentine’s Day for Luka’s Grade 8 class.


I could see signs of what they call chemobrain in my making of the cookies—funny, because I thought chemobrain was going show up in my writing (one of the many reasons I decided to keep this blog). But in the kitchen, making the cookies I have made anywhere from three to six times a year just for the family, not counting wedding, anniversary, party and commercial orders, I screwed up over and over again. I burned two full trays of cookies (I have NEVER burned two trays in one baking session, ever), made the icing in the wrong order, ran out of red colouring paste, and made more must-eat cookies with poor planning/execution of icing. The poor planning was Icing 101 mistakes—letting icing sit until too set to do wet-on-wet techniques, forgetting what I was actually intending to do with certain designs, and crummy execution—I blamed that on the burning hand-foot syndrome and the fact that holding the icing bags and exerting uniform pressure was difficult. Anyway, making the cookies took far longer than it ever had, but I planned for that by spreading the work over more nights.

On Friday the 14th, I send Luka off to school with his 25 cookies with all his classmates’ names on them, plus bagged cookies for his teachers and his bus driver, and I bagged up and boxed up cookies (that took far longer than it ever has before too—I actually had to write who and how many cookies so I could stop counting and recounting) for my favourite group of people—my coworkers and colleagues at CAMH, and went in with all three kids at 4:30 on the Friday of a long weekend. What seemed poorly timed was actually well-timed, since there wasn’t a full office the visits were easier, and people were very relaxed since it was a long weekend coming up, and I of course had applied my makeup skills from Look Good, Feel Better and donned my utterly fabulous wig, so I looked barely the cancer victim.

The second week knocked me flat. Part of that was my fault, because I had to make a trip to Stratford to take my dad to medical testing and an appointment in London, and did the 450 km within 24 hours. The following day, I had volunteered to work the pizza lunch at Luka’s school, because by the Wednesday of the second week of my chemo schedule I’m usually feeling pretty good. I was feeling good, so I went, and met some really nice parent volunteers, then came home and paid for my activities with a real bout of fatigue.

For the next four days, all I did was sleep and cough and stumble about the house. If I sat for any length of time, I feel asleep. If I stayed standing, I was OK. Problem was, I couldn’t stand for too long. My feet were still burning, despite pills and cream, and my fingers and thumbs had started blistering and peeling, and I was miserable and hurting. Since I couldn’t stand a lot, I sat, and when I sat my head would loll to one side or the other or even back, and I was asleep. Add in hideous dreams and waking myself by screaming out (and terrifying Luka, who is nearby all the time), and it was a bad Wednesday to Sunday, with the exception of birthday lunch for my tireless father-in-law, or ex-father-in-law, which seems ridiculous since my in-laws have remained steadfastly in-laws despite the breakup of their son’s and my marriage nine years ago. That lunch was wonderful, and thank God at a buffet so I could test out my mouth sores on teeny samples of many dishes and figure out what I could actually eat without pain. Brilliant idea. And yes, I ate well!

Suffice it to say, I am glad that was my last of those two chemo drugs because another of the same cocktail would lead to even more intense side effects, and I don’t need that!


3 Responses

  1. Hi Jackie,
    I have to say, you’re one iron willed fighter. Not sure if you actually feel like that, but from my view, that’s what I’m seeing. Also, us knowing each other most of our lives, I remember the humor that you can bring to most situations.

    Considering that you were fighting with heavy chemo meds & had some chemo brain while baking those amazing, beautiful cookies, you managed to remember every cookie stumble while blogging! I’m totally impressed that you even attempted to make cookies, I can’t say I’d be a fraction as productive in the same situation… AND I’m impressed that you’re even blogging!

    I’m hoping that the bout with chemo brain is only related to those particular meds and you’ll be free from it by now, or at least sooner than later!

    Ah, but then the crash. My heart bled for you reading about the crash. I wanted to write this reply but just couldn’t. I needed to process everything for a few days.

    I so wish i could just pick up and drive out there. I will at one point, but I’m not sure when. I just bought a house & 1/2 acre property & move in on April 26 🙂

    So, I’m happy that you’re done with those drugs, as I know you are.

    I’m still thinking of you every day & sending love & healing.

    love you, Jen

    • I love you too. I wish your 1/2 acre was here in Ontario, maybe halfway between here and Stratford. I feel like a real fighter some days, and a real loser other days. The idea is to the increase the fighter days, I know. Knowing you’re reading here helps a huge amount. It’s when I really try to pull everything together and concentrate that I sit at the blog, and it’s like opening the door and seeing you on the porch when I see your comments. {{{hug!}}}

      • I definitely wish we still lived closer to each other. I still tell people about our adventures and how our parents called us nitro & glycerine because we’d always find trouble when we were together!! Haha!!!
        I hope that your rough days slip away sooner than later so soon every day is a good day. I think about how I feel when I have the worst flu ever and figure you might feel the same some days. I’m still sending healing love every day.
        I sure wish I could physically be on your porch, but I’m happy that these notes are a close second {{{HUGS!}}}

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