Fatigue, Brows, Oxygen, Kiddos – Updates

I’m tired. Really, really tired. I need – nope, I require – a nap every day, and bedtime is definitely before 10 p.m. (usually closer to 9, really). The oncologist says this is because of the cumulative effects of the chemo. Including this week, only five more rounds (11 rounds DONE!). Thank goodness. Fridays at the cancer center are starting to wear me out.

I met with the surgeon on Monday. I still have the choice of lumpectomy or mastectomy, and I’m thankful to have options since many women don’t. As I expected, there are more doctors to see (radiology oncologist tomorrow and plastic surgeon TBD) and more test to schedule (mammogram and ultrasound) before surgery. I reiterated my desire to have surgery done and recovery complete before next semester (Labor Day). Right now, that looks do-able.

Other updates:

– Classes are done, and I’ve never been happier to get to the end of the semester. I’m almost done with grading, and since I’m teaching the same three classes in the fall, prep time for fall will be minimal. I’m looking forward to resting and just taking it easy. (And naps whenever I want – yay!)

– Drawing eyebrows is hard. My eyebrows and eyelashes are nonexistent these days, and without any hair on my head, I look… like a cancer patient. I’ve tried eyebrow gels and pencils and powders and crèmes… I’ve tried freehanding the brows and using a variety of stencils. I usually get one dark brow, one lighter, one with a nice arch, one flat across, one super wide, one a little too narrow. Basically, if you see me IRL, please only look at my right brow – it’s the better one most days. And forget lashes – I’ve glued my eyelids together more than once with my “eyelash wigs” (Lauren’s term for false lashes).

– My oxygen levels are still not always where they need to be. I continue monitoring myself with a pulse ox meter I bought at Walgreens. Walking from my car to the office causes my levels to get in the low 90s/high 80s. And even though the levels climb to the high 90s pretty quickly, I find myself short of breath with a really rapid heart rate for a while. After talking to the doc, I think some of this is related to not having much stamina – it’s been about two months since before the fever and the pneumonia and even feeling blah before that. So almost two months since I’ve done much. I’ve started walking on the days when I can (Fridays, Saturdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays – the other days, I’m zapped). It’s slow going, but Ethan usually walks with me and cheers me on. I’ll get the stamina back – it’ll just take time. And I really hope that’s the answer to getting oxygen levels more stable, more often.

– I’ve coined a new phrase – “free balding” – which amuses me to no end. “Free balding” means going out in public without a turban or scarf or wig or anything on my bald head – basically, it’s going cranially commando. Used in a sentence: “It’s crazy hot so I’m going to free bald it to the grocery store.”

– Ethan has REALLY stepped up in the last few weeks. Reports from his teachers and the principal are that he’s really maturing this year, and his behavior is much better than at the beginning of the year. He’s been just amazing through this whole cancer thing. He looks out for me – if I’m chilled, he’ll bring me the thermometer and insist I make sure I’m not running a fever. He’ll proactively do things around the house, like clean bathrooms and take out the garbage. He’s been helping with Lauren, and he’s been very cuddly. He’s a great kid.

– Lauren turned five on Monday, and I almost forgot her birthday. Blame it on end of the semester craziness or chemo brain or just being a bad mom, but her birthday slipped my mind until late Saturday. It was a mad scramble to order cupcakes for school, bake cupcakes for home, figure out birthday presents (and shop and wrap), pull together decorations. Sundays and Mondays are my “worst” days – basically, I just don’t want to do anything – and those were the days I had to take to pull off all-things birthday. It happened. She was thrilled. And now she’s five. (Hot damn, my baby is five…)

When asked what she wanted for her birthday, Lauren replied, "Cupcakes!"

When asked what she wanted for her birthday, Lauren replied, “Cupcakes!” (She also got her first “big girl” bike, ballet classes, and some toys.) 

4 thoughts on “Fatigue, Brows, Oxygen, Kiddos – Updates

  1. My favorite phrase: “cranially commando.” You should seriously trademark that right now. And do they make fake eyebrows… like fake mustaches? You could totally rock that 🙂

    You’ll get your stamina back. Just rest and try and rest and try a little more tomorrow. And free bald. That’s awesome.

  2. I been following your blog for a while now but my first time posting! OMG, every word and sentence just takes my breathe away. Your courage, strength, positive outlook and humor is so admirable. I lost my husband to cancer and have small children so I understand your loss and pain. However, what you are going through makes you a hero and a model in my eyes. You are a great daughter to your mother and a wonderful mother to your children. Keep fighting and know that you are not alone!

  3. JLT, the image of you gluing your eyelids together is going to be seared into my memory forever. Classic.

    So glad you’ve got lots of rest coming your way. If anybody deserves it, lady, it’s you!

    Still rooting hard for you – along with half of St. Louis. xo

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