The Upside Down

The next days after my first treatment were not terrible, but definitely not comfortable. I only slept for four hours that Wednesday night of the treatment. Here’s how the next few days went:

Thursday: I woke up on the teetering on the verge of nausea, but not quite there. I took my anti-nausea meds, had some ginger tea, and kept the nausea at bay. My head was fuzzy and couldn’t really think clearly even after some coffee which is my usual cure for that. I managed through the day feeling a bit gross in my head and my belly, but it was certainly tolerable.

Friday: I only had four hours of sleep Thursday night, so this did not help. Friday was a slightly more intense version of Thursday, but still tolerable. My brain was definitely less effective. It was hard to think through anything related to my work since I struggled to sustain and mental load for more than a few minutes. Physically, I didn’t want to do much more than take the dog for a walk and it was a short one at that. I opted to just accept my current condition and watch TV.

Saturday: I woke up after a 10 hour sleep! I felt rested but still not so mentally clear and my body was not feeling well. It’s a difficult thing to explain, but my insides just didn’t feel right. Part of the challenge is managing this chain of side effects where the chemo causes nausea, so I take anti-nausea medication. Then the anti-nausea medication causes the digestive tract to shut down. Then I take a laxative to manage that, but everything’s got to be done in balance, and I don’t think I’ve gotten it right yet. At this point, I dubbed this feeling “The Upside Down” from Stranger Things because I felt the way Will looked throughout season two.

I had a moment when I was worried that trend was going to continue downward over the next six months. As I progressed down this mental spiral, I was wondering if I just had to accept that this was how I was going to feel. If each day is getting worse, how much worse is this going to get? It was very scary for me to go down this path, and my fuzzy brain suddenly burst through with a clear signal to stop thinking about that and snap out of it. In that moment, things started to turn to a better direction.

Later that afternoon, my mom and her boyfriend, David, came to visit. It was so nice to have them over. My mom came in with a crazy amount of home made food including an amazing stew loaded with vegetables and protein as well as stuffed grape leaves. She packed them in individual serving sizes for about 25 meals. It was insanely good, and super convenient to have that. My mom is amazing. And David is a saint because he was running errands to help my mom get all the ingredients, then drove out 90 minutes to help deliver it all in a huge Yeti cooler that must have been stuffed with 50 lbs of food!

Sunday: After getting 9.5 hours of sleep, I was feeling better. I felt like I had one foot in the Upside Down, and one in the real world. I went to OrangeTheory with Jamie and Tamara in the morning. It was by far my worst performance to date because I didn’t want to push myself too hard, but it was so good for me to be moving. I felt much better after that class. As the day progressed, I fully transitioned to the real world and went to bed feeling like a human being. Goodbye Upside Down! A very tired human being, but I’ll take that!

Each day after, I regained more energy and brain power. I was able to work the full week and started feeling quite productive. Having my mom’s delicious and conveniently packaged food helped a lot throughout the week.

Mom and David stopped by the following weekend with another massive food delivery. Jamie and I were excited for their visit, and as you can see from the pictures below, Mocha was pretty happy too!

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