Trudging the slow road of recovery

During cancer treatment life is pretty simple – you feel toxic most of the time. But recovery is a sly fox – you feel good a few hours and then crash and burn as a reminder that cancer and cancer treatment isn’t done with you just yet.

I am at Plus-33. That means it’s been 33 days since my stem cells were returned to my body in my autologous stem cell transplant. The transplant was deemed by my doctors to be my best bet for full remission from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma or a longer  period of being cancer free. I was initially diagnosed in 2015 and underwent traditional treatment but the cancer returned about a year later. (There’s the nut graph for you journalism people.)

I returned to my home three weeks ago and now fight for recovery. As I’ve written here before, I don’t feel like I worked hard enough in 2015 and I’m pushing myself more now. That means a daily walk – usually of about two miles. I do get tired but I’m going at a pretty slow pace. Right now at this stage, even a couple hours out doing errands is like exercise – it wears me out.

A good example of this up and down process is yesterday – May 20. I had a pretty crappy day Friday, it rained most of the day, and I stayed inside, slept a lot, and felt the toxicity. Activity defeats the toxicity but not always the fatigue.

So Saturday I felt pretty good and drove to Indy for lunch with a friend. I drove to the southside then out to the east side to the fabulous Caplinger’s Fresh Catch fish market and then returned home. I became tired about two-thirds the way back and by the time I hit the lazyboy chair was exhausted. And all I did was drive down and back, have a sandwich, and return home.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in the typical sleep or sleepy zone. I became clear headed about 5:30 and was okay for most of the evening. I went to bed earlier than normal and got close to 8.5 hours of sleep. I was pleased with that – but we’ll see if it has any real positive affect on today.

If these paragraphs made any sense, good. It’s hard to describe this up and down. What I’m pushing toward, with a ways to go, is being able to feel okay for up to 8 hours so I can return to work.

Another frustration and nasty side effect of chemo is it often has an impact on vision. I was having  issues before my 2015 diagnosis and my sight worsened after treatment. Several attempts last year failed in crafting lenses to return my normal vision.

On top of that, the chemo and procedure I just had tends to create a breeding ground for cataracts. So this week I want to get an appointment scheduled, with my oncologist’s approval, to try to restore my clear vision. Even setting and writing this blog post I have to juggle the position of the laptop and struggle to see sharply.

That’s plenty of negativity. The positive is there are 2-3 blocks of 2-3-4 hours a day that I feel pretty good.

Today’s test is a much shorter trip of about 30 minutes each way to visit my elderly mother. Once back home I have a piece of freshly-caught striped sea bass I’m going to fix for dinner.

I’m trying hard to make permanent changes to my diet – less red meat, more fish, more greens, and a sharp reduction in sugar. All of those changes are good for cancer patients – frankly, good for anyone.

I haven’t been on the scales in awhile but I continue to loose a bit of weight. The last time at the doctor’s office I was down 22. Honestly, I’m very happy about that – but it’s not a weight-loss program I’d recommend to any one.



About Howard

After most of my career in the newspaper business I joined higher education, working in Public Affairs. I write mostly about value wine. I have now taken early retirement and work part-time in a small boutique, retail wine shop in Indianapolis
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