Monday, July 25, 2011

Withdrawals….



Sometimes I watch tv.
Sometimes I even watch tv without really looking.
Sometimes I watch TV and I think by myself, “Why on earth am I watching this???”

I used to love Grey’s Anatomy. Bastiaan and I would sit down on Thursday evenings and watch it together. When I got diagnosed and the months after, during chemo, Thursday was the best day. As in that was the one evening where I would be almost completely  “present” and without uncontrollably shaking or sweating, most of the times anyway... Normally Bastiaan likes other shows than I, but this was one of our “Let’s watch together shows” and try to forget about all the bad stuff going on in “real” life.


Until Izzy (one of the main characters of the show) got sick. Guess what she got???!!! Oh, was so mad.

She could have gotten ONE HUNDRED THOUSANDS kinds of cancer. But nope, she ended up with my kind, and that was besides the fact that she was almost the same age and blond too!!!

The ONE evening during the whole week were I would crawl into Bastiaan’s embrace and were we would try to forget for an hour about the fact that we had cancer and just moved to a new country…

They had her, get my cancer!
We stopped watching Grey’s that night.

Getting on chemo is not the hard part. Being on chemo is not too good as in really, really (here you can put your own curse words if you use them) NOT GOOD! But we were in for a real ride after we got OFF the chemo!

On my dad’s birthday, October 9th, 2009 after 64 weeks of chemo I got my last dose. It was a great day and we even had a cake to celebrate. All it wanted was a Big Mac, but the cake seemed more appropriate. In the following days I was under the impression that now that I was off the nasty stuff, life would go back to normal in a swiffy. A girl has to have hope, right?!


That first weekend I got a headache. But I still had some of those great pills from the doc so I could keep going, suppressing that headache. I wasn’t going to let a little headache going to ruin my fine “new” life after chemo!

The next day I still had a headache. I didn’t help that I already to 4 of those “special” pills were normally I would be happy as a pumpkin in a sunny pasture after a half of one of those pills…

BUT I was stubborn and we needed to go shopping, at Menards. After 6 pills and lots of begging, my dad took me home, but it became clear, that home wasn’t the best place to be at that moment. And after my mom, dad AND Bastiaan found out I had eaten my little stash of “special” pills it was time to go to the emergency room…

The Bluffton Emergency room wasn’t the best place either because after a CAT scan and a HUGE needle and syringe of some kind of pain reliever (in my buttocks!) they sent me home… and I was feeling like that fat happy pumpkin again!

The next day, the pain was back! FULL FORCE!!! We skipped the emergency room in Bluffton. We brought out the big guns and went to the big city emergency room! I am not sure but the doctors there were a bit puzzled too. After several scans, including CAT/PET and MRI’s they found nothing, but I was completely overcome by this terrible pain in my head. Finally they gave me a shot (and yes this was even worse than the buttocks shot the day before!) in my spine! I never had a shot in my spinal cord before, and let me tell you this IS NOT FUNNY!

What was even more disappointing was that the shot did not work. So as a last resort they finally gave me a little cocktail… they had checked out everything and anything and were still afraid to numb any symptoms and thus figuring out what was wrong, but they were even more worried about the pain that I was still having. And no that cocktail was not a stiff drink, but a cocktail of pain relievers, and yes some big names like valium and morphine drifted by. 5 minutes after I got that cocktail I wasn’t even a happy fat pumpkin anymore I was just… floating…

They kept me in the hospital for five days.


Three of those five days are a bit cloudy because of my “not to make at home” special cocktail. But the last two were pretty “good”. The oncologist told me that what probably happed was the withdrawal from all these weeks of chemo, had something to do with this headache of mine (I am not even sure if headache is the right word, but for a lack of better word…) Gradually things went better and during the day I would sleep and I had visitors who would come and cheer me up. In the evenings I would watch TV. Books were too much of a strain, but the TV would do the trick and take my mind of things.

I watched my first “after Izzy”, Grey’s Anatomy episode by myself in that hospital bed. The sweet girl was gone, I believe she survived her illness but they “cut” her out of the show by moving her to another town or something. I’m glad she didn’t die. And yes my mom told me when I was little that I shouldn’t believe everything I see on the ‘tellie’, but I was happy anyway. There were just too many resemblances and i thought if she can survive so can i....

When doctors tell you that you are sick, you are sick. Your brain tells you that you are sick and you need to get better. This is a given. When doctors tell you that you are better, your brain doesn't always tell you that you are better... Especially when you can not do all the things u used to do, or have the stamina you had before, or seeing the thirty plus scars on you body. Basically your brain and body are having withdrawals from cancer. And then there is the worry of getting sick again that sometimes  is sooo overpowering that you "forget" that you are actually well.

I found it MUCH harder to be "better" than to be "sick". I know this sounds strange, but i can't describe it any other way.

I do not know this body of mine anymore. And i defiantly do not know this brain. Whatever those drugs did to get rid of the cancer, they, also "messed" ME (as in I ) up. I tell myself not to worry, I'll find "ME" again. It just will be a little bit of a different ME that i was 4 years ago...


...

46 comments:

Jill said...

Bless your heart. I am so sorry you've had to endure all that you have. You seem like a very strong woman to me though and I have faith that you will only grow stronger each and every day.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Ugh, that sounds just awful. I hope that you find your full self again, changed but for the better :-)

Julie said...

I'm so sorry Leontien! I have never heard of chemo withdrawls! But I do know about the mental challenge. It wasn't me with the cancer but I am the one with the worry and anxiety. I hope it becomes easier an easier for you. Hugs, Julie

Rae said...

Along with killing the cancer cells the chemo often has some unexpected side effects. Hardest to explain are the ones that happen after the chemo treatments are finished. My patients suffered with some of them. It is a frustrating process. You are an inspiration to all of us with your ability to share your thoughts and feelings about all you've been through.

ann said...

Leontien I hope you never get sick again I think it was because you were in treatment so long your body needed time to recover Bad Chemo

Sandra said...

i agree with Rae, i am happy you are able to share what happened to you so that others will know if it happens to them or to a loved one.you have a talent for writing and I to hope you find the old me, but then maybe the new me will be better than the old. i like the you that is you now for sure.

Sandi said...

Leontien, I don't know if it was the chemo that changed you as much as the experience itself. I "thought" once I learned to walk again, I would be back to "normal." But, 1.What was "normal" had changed. 2.I learned a body can't be put through such an experience and then be "well." 3.My perspective on life changed, I was not, nor could I be, the woman I had been before. My accident was in Jan of '98 and I am still being surprised by this gift called life and my body's/mind's response to...

Many Prayers and Many Blessings ~ Sandi

TexWisGirl said...

i don't think life can ever be the same after what you went through, but i do hope you can retain or re-find joy. thanks for a very honest post.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh My Goodness.. I am so sorry for what you went through.. Cancer is a wicked disease. One of my very best childhood friends is losing her battle to breast cancer. She has fought it for about 5 yrs. now --but they have just put her in hospice. Breaks my heart.

I am glad you are doing so well. Thanks be to God. AND--I'm glad you are telling your story. Others need to hear it --since it may help someone else.

Speaking of withdrawal, I just got off of caffeine --and I had withdrawal from that for several days, a whopping headache (but nothing like you went through)...

Never watched Gray's Anatomy...
Hugs,
Betsy

Melodie said...

That sounds like a terrible battle.I am so glad you are better. I don't think after that kind of fight you can ever be the same you,like a soldier in a war.You are the new you,a mixture of the old you,the new survivor and part yet to come!

sawn48 said...

You sound like a very strong lady. I am confident that you will prevail.You have such a way with words, you might consider putting your story into a book form. I have made 8 little hard back books with my blog stories. I love doing that. Writing down your thoughts and feelings about your ordeal, could be enjoyable,and therapeutic,too.

mountain mama said...

oh my gosh, bless your heart! 64 weeks of hell?!?!

oh...i can't even comprehend that.

Sharon said...

I guess a person's body can get used to anything, good or bad and when that something isn't there anymore, there is withdrawal. Kind of like kicking coffee, cold turkey, the withdrawal lasts for weeks. (and that was just coffee)

Buttons said...

Well girl you made it and you are fabulous. You are a talented writer and every word makes me want for more that is the talent.
It was not a pleasant thing you went through but I can tell you you are who you are because of the stupid, horrible chemo and I think you are great. You have managed to hold on to your sense of humour and that is a gift in itself. Don't worry about what you used to be so much, you are a alive, and things are going to be great.You have a wonderful husband and family to support you, rely on them that is what they are there for.
Now cheer up and get back to writing incredible stories that cheer everyone else up. Thank you for that. :<) B

Saimi said...

I'm in awe of your strength! I think I could handle just about anything... except cancer.

You may not feel like the old you but how can you be after all you've been through...you're stronger and better now!

It's me said...

Hele dikke knuffel lieverd.....xxx...

Garden of Egan said...

That is an incredible story.
That is also a dang long time to have to have chemo. I know that there are miracles in the cancer world because of chemo, but wow! it does do damage.
I have a dear friend who went through chemo for breast cancer. She says the same thing you do. It totally messed up her body.

I hope that never comes back dear friend. Either the headache or the word that shall not be named.

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

There's no way I can pretend to understand what you went through and how you feel now, Leontien. My mom went through 6 months of chemo for breast cancer and it changed her too. Not sure it is possible to survive such a thing and come out the other side the same. I'm just glad you are here, but it must be difficult at times to try and recapture who you used to be. :)

LindaG said...

*hugs* and God Bless. ♥

Out on the prairie said...

I laugh at what attracts and distracts me with TV.Sometimes we must need that distraction.

don said...

I appreciate you sharing your difficult times during and following the chemo. I'm sure all of us wish we could help some way, Perhaps telling this can help in some unexpected way. Blessings and a sincere wish that your will return to more normal times…soon.!

Jeanie said...

The "me" you are left with sounds like a very strong, courageous and determined woman.

Lois Evensen said...

My goodness, you are a strong lady. Wow.

All the very best and great big hugs,

Lois

rainfield61 said...

I shall never say much as I am not you, while you are still finding "you" again.

Cheers!!!!!

Debbie said...

i can't help but wonder how difficult it must be for you to share this story.

awesome photo's today, really beautiful & uplifting!!!

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Leontien, I have never been through chemotherapy, so I cannot by any stretch say I know exactly what you mean. But, I hear that it was so very, very hard... and the hardest part has been dealing with all the changes it has made in your life. What is obvious to the rest of us is that you are a brave and strong woman. I have great faith that you will... that you are... finding your way to yourself and who you are now. blessings ~ tanna

Larkrise garden girl said...

Leontien, I know what you mean my daughter has gone through so many trips to the hospital and many exasperations with MS it can't help but change you. Leontien you have experienced stuff at your age it seems so unfair. I have no answers but I know that you have learned at an early age what many people don't realize a simple day of feeling well is a blessing. Extra hugs and I know your blog helps someone else out there that is struggling through an illness. I too can't watch medical drama's anymore. Cheri

BigD said...

I never knew the "old" you.
But I can tell you that "this" you is pretty fun!
I hope you can arrive at peace in all of this.
I admire your courage and ability to keep getting out of bed.
My mom was just diagnosed last week with cancer--for the fourth time. Some how, she's keeps on going... one foot in front of the other. I don't know how she where the strength comes from, but it's inspiring.
Keep looking! You're there somewhere!

Terry M Scott (AKA Terry Mann) said...

Everyone else already said it.
God bless.

Chip "Rocket Man" Allen said...

I can understand where you are coming from. My wife began having seizures the day after giving birth to our daughter. We went through all sorts of testing and treatments before the doctors eventually discovered what was causing the seizures and what medicines are effective at treating them. Still, she's not the same person she was before and has to learn to do things differently.

Then, 6 years, ago I had a bad fall at home that changed my life. Surgery to repair the damage to my lumbar spine was painful, left me in a body brace for a year and meant that, among other things, I had to learn how to sleep in a bed instead of a recliner. I'm officially 100% disabled now and can't work. I don't think of myself as disabled. There are few things I can't do and other things I have to do differently so I think of myself as challenged.

The important thing is that we're alive and have each other. We also treasure each day we have and LIVE each day to it's fullest.

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Bless your heart. You have been through so much. It's probably normal to feel "not you" for a while as you get stronger and get your life back. You have fought the hard fight. Keep your spirits up!

Farmchick said...

What a life altering experience you have gone through.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

So sorry for the pain you had to endure! Yes, I would imagine that would seriously change a person. You have quite a story to share and help others who are struggling through something similar.

The Tame Lion said...

What doesn't kill us will make us stronger.
Always remember:
You aren't alone, we all are always here to support you.

Louise said...

I don't know what to say. You are a wonderful young woman, Leontien, and all of us are richer for having the pleasure of getting to know you. Whatever you have to do to find the new you, you will do. And, the new you will be just as wonderful as the old you.

Mo Pie, Please said...

Oh my goodness. This was one of the toughest posts I've ever read. I'm so happy for you and your family for coming so far in your incredibly difficult battle. Thank you for sharing something so painful as this with us. I can't get over the parallels with you and Izzy - I'm a fan of GA too. I'm glad she survived and that it gave you the courage and determination to do so as well. Best of luck finding the new you in the journey ahead.

Dolores said...

Thank you for your remarks on my blog.

I've been reading and reading all the post you've written. I'm so sorry you've had to go through the awful trials of cancer and chemo. I pray this will be behind you and never to return.

You write so honestly and beautifully!
I'm a new follower...

lisaschaos said...

Izzy did survive. :) I watched House during my chemo days, lol. I always with house would be my doctor. I just hit 5 years cancer free. :)

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I'm reading some of the comments and have to say that I totally agree with everyone. I admire your strength and courage for an illness that has touched too many lives, no one who has either had cancer or known someone close who has had it are ever the same afterwards.

That Janie Girl said...

I've never had cancer, and I hope I never do. But your insight and your tellings of your experiences are eye-opening and enlightening.

Those of us who've not been there don't have a clue.

Thanks for opening my eyes, Leontien!!

And here are some continuing healing hugs to you!

(((((((Leontien))))))

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

You have been through so much, but you have the inner courage and strength to endure. Bless you and (((hugs))).

Dreaming said...

I never knew the 'me' from before, but I have great admiration for the current 'you'! Anyone who describes the experience of narcotic pain relievers as being a 'happy pumpkin in a field' is a very creative and very interesting person. I took some Tylenol with codeine the other night... and I understand that happy pumpkin thing!

God Bless You! You have been through a hell many of us have never known. If you find "me" again... I hope you are not that different than you are now!

troutbirder said...

My wife had ovarian cancer. Strong like you she in now six years cancer free. I found your story both frightening and inspiring. Think I'll stick with the later. Thanks :)

Deila said...

That sounds like a tough road, and hopefully your can count all those days as something in the past that you have conquered. 64 weeks sounds like a long time. Thanks for sharing. Funny how those tv shows can get you. We canceled out tv about 10 years ago. But I do stream or netflix some movies.

Mary said...

I know this is cyber world and some might say you can not have true friends over cyber world but I think it is a testiment to friendship by all the people who have commented on your blogs and are followers. Look at all the people who have commented on this post alone. We all care for you even if we don't truely know you. God has you in his arms and cares for you.

God Bless girl. Turn to Him and He will comfort you.

Poppy said...

Really sorry to read all that you have been through, I am sure 'you' are still there and will re-appear soon!