That’s what I woke up to in the middle of the night. Two thirty in the morning and an intense pounding pain in my head woke me up. It was one of those headaches, if you’ve ever had a severe headache, where I could hear the blood rushing through my veins, hear and feel my heart beat. It hurt more to lie down than it did to sit up. Sit up in the dark because the light hurt my eyes too much.
I haven’t had a migraine for a long time now. I suffered with them before in the past, but literally when Kevin got sick, most of my ailments went away. It was like I didn’t have time for them anymore. A lot of things happened when Kevin was diagnosed. Shock does crazy things to people, for me, I literally went through menopause. Not long and drawn out for me, nope, I was done completely as of that moment in June of 2014 when we heard the words “you’ve got advanced cancer”. Last night’s migraine was a surprise to me, I thought that they’d been banished forever too, but evidently I got that wrong. Fortunately I had my meds, although expired, I’d kept them and ended up taking three doses before I settled the thing down.
I’m not really surprised by the migraine, things have been building up as I get closer to the one year anniversary of Kevin’s death. I find that I am crying almost every day, small things set me off. I’ve got no interest in going out or doing anything. It’s even a push to sit down here and write out my thoughts. I’m not eating great, not sleeping well; all of these things are likely contributors to the migraine. I imagine myself right now as a plane that is trying to land but bouncing from wheel to wheel, precariously off balance. I don’t have confidence that I can land without some sort of damage. That’s how I feel, off balance, out of control.
There’s no magic answer or proven coping techniques that I can use to get through this. I have great family and friends all around me, but I am afraid that for these next couple of weeks we are in parallel but separate worlds. I know that they are there, but I am in a different space altogether. I am back in the world of loss and sorrow, flying through a mist made of tears. Not a journey I’d wish on anyone.
A picture of a glacier taken in Alberta, Canada during one of our travels.
Fatigue – There are different definitions provided for this as a noun including: “a cause of weariness; slow ordeal; exertion” or “a tiring activity or effort” (Source: Dictionary.com). Repeatedly throughout this process, from our preliminary discussions with our GP to the meetings with Oncology, we have discussed the side effects of chemotherapy particularly fatigue. To be sure, this is one of the most debilitating things to deal with. Normally when I write these pieces I don’t confer with my husband, after all this is my blog, my thoughts and my opinions, but for this one I did. I asked him to describe what the fatigue he experiences is like. I know what I see, I don’t know what he feels.
He finds the fatigue frustrating, debilitating and discouraging. More than anything else, the fatigue makes him question why he is doing this. A day goes by and he doesn’t know where it went. He sleeps more than he is awake, some days he can get up to 12 to 14 hours of sleep.
He finds it an effort to do the simplest things. He believes that fatigue and apathy go hand in hand. When there is any physical exertion required he has to psych himself up for it, something as basic as getting up from the bed to go to the bathroom is exhausting. He has no concept of time; his perception of time is skewed. He may take 20 minutes sitting at the side of the bed before he is able to get into it – time has no meaning at all. In day-to-day activities, he has no interest in doing much of anything because he can’t participate at any level – he doesn’t have the strength or stamina.
Over the course of this journey we have discussed many different things – this side effect is the most challenging because it is the one most difficult for him. Activity, involvement, creativity and fun are things near and dear to his heart, and right now they are out of reach. So each day he pushes himself to try to do a little bit more because he knows he will feel better for it, but to have to push himself to do such basic tasks reminds him of how much this disease has broken him down. I have learnt to listen more than speak when he vents about this. He knows what he needs to do, I don’t have to remind him.