Slow Your Roll

Today was “chemo class” — yes, chemo requires a class. There are a surprising number of things to take into account — side effects, managing the side effects, how to minimize chances of infection, nutrition, appetite, exercise, scheduling, white count monitoring, exposure to chemicals, exposure to germs, face masks, tooth brushing (yup, tooth brushing) — and it’s a bit overwhelming if I’m being honest.

Part of how I deal with the many overwhelming conversations I’ve had to have since my diagnosis is to pull out my aptly labeled CANCER notebook, open it to my list of questions, and start taking copious notes. It helps me organize things, remember things, and is a way of putting a bit of necessary distance between me and my (also overwhelming) emotions.

As the nurse was attempting to go through the side effects of my chemo regimen (a mere 10-page chart), I continued to pepper her with my many many questions — can I exercise? can I have visitors at home? can I go out in public? can I get a massage? what can I eat? I believe it was when I asked about flushing my port line after my chemo treatments were done in three months that she looked up at me and said, with a smile on her face, “slow your roll!”

Yes, I was way ahead of myself, and yes, I wanted to put all of this into my own 10-page chart where it would fit neatly and all of my questions would be answered. But that’s not what this is or will be. So many of my questions have answers that start with “it depends” — on the person, on your tolerance, on your attitude, on your overall health — and I’m not going to get definitive answers. The nurse put her hands up on either side of her body and said “black is here, white is here, and there’s a lot of grey in between” — I am not ok in the grey, but I need to be to get through this.

So for right now, I’m going to try to slow my roll and get comfortable with the grey of how I feel on a particular day, of not having clear answers, of being unable to plan ahead, and instead try to enjoy the next four days before my first chemo treatment.

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