Hospital week has proven to be a piece of cake compared to the 2 weeks that follow. Sound crazy? Let me explain:
In the hospital, I have one job: to take care of myself. My focus is entirely on making sure that I am resting, eating, taking my meds, and staying entertained. When I start to feel nauseous, I push a button and the nurse comes running to the rescue with meds to help. I was so worried about throwing up a lot. Once I learned to take the meds as SOON as I felt a little nausea, the vomiting stopped being an issue. I have even learned to be a bit productive in the hospital. I have read some great fiction and non-fiction books and have had more opportunity to blog.
My "project" this week was meal planning. I have been so OBSESSED with food lately!! I think about it constantly and feel like my life revolves around what I am going to eat for my next meal or snack. Over the past 4 months, I haven't always been able to eat what I want because of stomach or mouth issues. When my mouth is on fire, eating is a chore. It actually takes work to get food down. I find myself jealous of other people who can chew, swallow, and enjoy their food without having to think about the least painful "method" to get the food down.
Before cancer, I had been wanting to get more vegetables into our diets but had really taken any steps in that direction. I spent some time on Pinterest and saved some great store fry recipes with chicken and veggies and some new ways to prepare tasty veggies. I also bought an Insta-pot and can't wait to put it to use!
The two weeks after chemo have proven to be more of a challenge than I could have imagined. While I am so happy to be home with my family, I experience this "tug of war." I want to be the wife and mom I was before cancer but I am physically unable yet. I have to rest a lot. It has been incredibly difficult to adjust the expectations that I place on myself. One day, I was crying and told been that I hated just sitting around and doing nothing. I think my exact words were that I felt like an "amoeba." My husband's response: "You aren't sitting around doing nothing. You are in a battle-a fight!" Those words were so encouraging because they released from some of the guilt I was feeing. Great guy right?!
I also feel much worse AFTER the treatment than during treatment. I still am able to control the nausea with meds at home, but the mouth sores have been a different story. The treatments for the mouth don't work nearly as well as the anti-nausea meds, and the pain is tough to endure. As I spend these last few hours in the hospital, it is tough to not get anxious about what is to come. My mouth is starting to burn and I know that it will get much worse before it gets better.
In the moments when I feel like I can't stand it one more second, I find myself just saying "Jesus" over and over. Just saying His name when I can find no other words is a way of me drawing on His strength to keep going. I have also sensed the Holy Spirit whispering the simple words "Look Up." When you are in pain or feeling uncomfortable, it is so easy and natural to think only about how cruddy you feel and how awful things are. For me, simply remembering that there is a God who loves me, Who is fighting for me, and Who is holding me up has given me strength to get up out of bed and keep on moving forward.
I remember one day standing in front of the mirror feeling drained. The image of Jesus standing and walking right beside me "popped" into my head. I remember thinking, "Ok Jesus its you and me!" What a God we serve! So big and powerful and majestic and yet so PERSONAL. I love how He meets us in our most desperate moments even when we don't ask.
I write all of this as somewhat of a "pep talk" to myself. As I face the next couple weeks, God is going to be with me every step up of the way. May I never forget!!