I just returned from a course of chemotherapy where I was on an IV drip for 24/7. I’m supposed to recuperate for a couple of weeks and then take the second, ideally the final course. I don’t know my current lab results yet but by all indicators the first cycle of chemo was successful.
At first I was hoping I could continue with the blog while in the hospital but I seriously underestimated the effect chemo would have on my abilities. First of all, it wiped my consciousness clean – my mental state and whatever plans I had. I couldn’t remember what my last post was about exactly, what I wanted to elaborate about and so on. Most of my free time I spent on chanting my rounds and there was little energy left to pursue anything else.
And then side effects kicked in. Strictly speaking, there are mild, but they interfered with my life anyway. First I got open sores inside my mouth that made it hard to chew and swallow food, and impossible to chant, too – if I kept my mouth open for longer than a minute it became very painful. By now the sores have healed and it’s no longer a problem but there are other side effects, too.
One is that chemo filled insides of my eyes with dead blood. When I looked at ophthalmologist’s pictures it looked like had clouds of blood floating in there, and they “rained” in a very particular place on the retina – right behind the eye lens where it supposed to focus all incoming images, whether assisted with glasses or not. It made this area into a blind spot. So, basically, whatever I look at I just don’t see. Other areas of the retina that catch what we call “peripheral vision” are okay so I see the environment as usual and I’m not blind in any sense, but I just don’t see whatever it is that I’m looking at directly.
Let’s say there’s a digital clock by the side of my bed – I see it when I look around but if I look at it directly to check the time it disappears. I reappears again if I look to the left or to the right and sometimes, if it’s close enough, I can even make up the time.
Most importantly, it makes reading nearly impossible. I still haven’t mastered the newspaper, even with a magnifying glass, but I can blow up font in the computer large enough to actually read something. The screen has to be inches from my face and I need that magnifying glass, but at least I can make up the meaning of the text, probably because a lot of what we read we catch with peripheral vision anyway. Words that do not make sense in the context are still hopeless, however, ‘cos looking directly at them doesn’t help at all.
This condition is treatable but it’s supposed to clear by itself with time, and there’s no point in treating it until I fully recover from the second round of chemo anyway because it will just come back.
That’s why I’m not sure if I should continue with this blog at this time. I want to but it might be just too much trouble. Right now I’m under constant surveillance by family members who don’t approve of me hanging around the computer because of the stress it puts on my eyes so I have to deal with that, too. Oh, and forget about proofreading this post, it has to be done with peering into the screen with a magnifying glass, then going back to the text to find the place I need edits in – it’s a pain.
Another issue that popped up just in the last few hours is numbness from my wrists to the tips of my fourth and fifth fingers, especially on my left hand. The hand still operates okay but sometimes I can’t tell if I’m holding a shift down or not, for example. I’m puzzled by the origin of this one and need to ask my doctor at the next meeting.
Otherwise I’m perfectly okay, given the circumstances, and I look just as before, with a short stubble on my head and face that I don’t need to shave anymore because all the growing hair fell out already. In some ways I feel even better than before the chemo but, generally, I don’t have the same level of energy yet. So, mentally, I’m ready to take up or resume any service but physical capabilities are not there yet.
In my head I have prepared one more post on the subject “but what does it all mean?” and I might type it up later today but I don’t know what will happen with this blog after that. Maybe it needs a break, or maybe it needs extra work put into it to help me with recovery, as sort of a physical exercise. Let’s see how it goes.