Friday, 19 December 2014
I Don't Want to Slow Down!
"I can't do anything!"
My cry of frustration came at my hospital exercise class. I was on the exercise bike, pedalling ridiculously slowly, and my heart rate monitor was already beeping warningly.
"You need to slow down," the physio told me reprovingly, seeing my heart rate zoom well over my 'safe' range'.
"But I am going slow!" I wailed.
She looked more closely and asked, "When did you last have chemo?"
The truth is that weekly Taxol provides no opportunity to take a break on chemo days or you'd never do anything at all.
I shrugged sheepishly and confessed, "This morning."
"There you go then," she said with an exasperated sigh. "Slow down!"
But I don't want to slow down. I have two primary-aged children who are full of primary-aged energy and want me alongside them. It's almost Christmas and I want it to be a 'normal' Christmas. I want to help at my daughter's school Christmas party while she is still young enough to want me there. I want to make mince pies like every other year. I want to have a fun school holiday.
So the first day of the school holidays I plan to take the kids for a long promised trip to the ice rink. I ask a good friend if she and her kids would like to come with us.
"Are you sure it's a good idea?" she asks me. She knows I had chemo the day before and I'm now also on a course of Neupogen shots because I'm heading towards neutropenia again. She knows that I did help out at my daughter's party and went to my husband's office party... and that I'm utterly exhausted. "You're tired and it'll be cold, not good for aches and pains."
But I am determined so she agrees to come along. It's utter chaos when we get there: everyone else had the same idea and the ice is packed. It's exhausting just getting through the crowds to get our skates and the noise is unbelievable but soon I'm on the ice with the kids and having a great time. We hold hands and go in a long line together. We go one behind each other and make a train. We do loops and try to go backwards and soon they want to play tag like we usually do.
But all of sudden I have a problem. I can't see. This isn't a new chemo side effect, it's an old friend come to visit, one I haven't had for a long time but I know all too well. There are flashing lights in front of my eyes and I have a migraine coming on.
I stagger off the ice and thank my lucky stars that my friend came with us: she finds me paracetamol and water (I don't even have any pain killers on me, how stupid is that when I should at least have been expecting bone and muscle aches? I am living in denial of my sick person status perhaps). I breathe deeply and find that eases the problem, perhaps it was just over-exertion after all.
I feel better and offer to take all the kids home to my place. Gently but firmly my friend insists that they are all going back to her house. On the one condition that I go home and sleep. I protest but not too vigorously and when I get home I realise that she is right. I fall straight into bed and sleep for two hours straight.
When she brings back the kids she says, "You need to slow down."
Well, maybe. I'm certainly glad that I didn't take the kids ice skating on my own as originally planned. But I'm also super glad that I made it on the ice with them and had some fun, for a while at least. So, what's the moral I am taking from this story? Life doesn't have to completely stop while you do chemo - if you feel well enough then you should keep doing as much as you can.
Just take a friend to make you slow down when you are doing too much.