Chapter 3 - The Longest Winter
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint - Isaiah 40:13
This has been the longest winter I can remember. It was filled with some good memories, but what I will remember most is the stress of a pretty major career change for me, and basically just all the waiting. Waiting for the next chemo round to come up. Waiting for the results of my mid-way PET scan. Waiting for warmer weather. Waiting for my offer. Waiting on my start date. Waiting for the day I can get out of the house and get back to normal. Waiting for this all to be over.
It's a great way to watch life pass you by, if that's what you're into... Every day is "Ground Hog Day", but also one day closer to the end of treatment. But at the same time, even after it's "over", I will still be waiting on the results of scans every three months, then every six months, possibly for the rest of my life. It's hard to be patient indefinitely, so it's frustrating at times.
Still, I can't complain. My 3rd and 4th infusions are behind me now. My midway PET scan confirmed remission - which was expected at this point in my treatment. I feel really good physically. I've gained all the weight back I needed to, and my strength is back in my workouts - which is about the only way I can benchmark it. I am stronger than it was all of 2021. Way stronger.
Every time I start feeling down, I just remind myself to thank the Lord for His goodness. This could be SO much worse. I am reminded of that every time I enter the infusion center. Hope is the greatest gift, and I do have hope for the future. For that, I am extremely grateful.
I will share some things, mainly just because others who are going through treatment may read this in the future.
I have realized that I am experiencing cumulative symptoms from the steroids. I take them the day of treatment, and for four days after that. Hard to explain, but it takes a real toll on me emotionally. I find myself being triggered easily to frustration and sometimes even anger (unusual for me), but also bouts of deep depression (which I am prone to anyway). It took me a while to figure out that was where it was coming from, but once I realized that it only happened in week 2, it started to make sense. I think I will be able to manage it better now that I understand what's causing it.
Week 1 is intensely focused (because of the steroids). I end up working on house projects for hours and can't be satisfied that they're complete. Very difficult to sleep. Hungry all the time, but full of energy.
Week 2 has other symptoms. Very strange shortness of breath and "head rushes" in week 2. It doesn't happen when I work out, as long as I warm up. But if I just need to suddenly run up a flight of stairs to get something, or stand up from crouching down - to stir the fireplace for instance - I can get really out of breath or almost pass out with a massive head rush. Also in week 2, it's like my body is trying to cleanse itself, and I end up craving fluid. As a result, I end up getting up and going to the bathroom 4-5 times a night. And, yes, I've also experience a little "chemo brain" where I am working on a project and can't remember where I put something or what I went into the garage to get. During week 2, my ability to recall words isn't great. The mood swings I mentioned from coming off of the steroids started this last time (after infusion #4) and lasted for about a week.
Week 3 I feel great. By this time, I guess the chemo is mostly out of my system, but now it's time to prepare for the next one. I try and make sure I work out every day and over hydrate. I do have some anxiety during week 3, just knowing what's ahead. That's where I am as I write this chapter.
But God has been working in our lives even in this time of waiting.
I mentioned a job change - a good friend of mine, Bill Roberts, referred me to an opening at Oracle. He knew what I was going through and thought being at a big company with a great healthcare plan might make a lot of sense for me, and he heard about a role that was a really good fit for my background. I took the interview, and it turns out the person I would report to goes to First Redeemer Church. We really hit it off, and I thought, how can this not be from God? Everything worked out and I started January 18th.
Wendy also got a call from her previous employer and is starting an exciting new role and Marsh and McLennan on Valentine's Day.
We had a great time in South Carolina at Mollie's wedding. It was great to see family from both sides. Had a great visit with the Reids as well.
Otherwise, pretty boring and non-eventful. I go in for infusion #5 on Friday, February 11th. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I will ring the bell on March 4th.