Four weeks ago, chemo session # 5 was delayed. Every other Monday (the day before treatment) my oncologist runs a panel of blood work to make sure my body is strong enough to handle the next day’s chemotherapy treatment. The panel—called a CBC or complete blood count—measures the number of white cells, platelets, red blood cells and hemoglobin. Sometimes my oncologist will check my magnesium levels as well just in case. The blood panel prior to chemo session number five showed that my platelet count was in the high sixties; a normal count is around 130. The lowest an oncologist will let the platelet count go is about 75. (platelets are the cells that help your body form blood clots, too low of a number can cause internal bleeding so chemo isn’t such a good idea when numbers are low)
That was the first time my treatment had been delayed due to health concerns. The following week, April 28th, my platelets had elevated enough so treatment was scheduled for the next day.
Chemo session five was rough. The physical side effects were relatively minor—some nausea and fatigue, typical treatment side effects.
However, the steroids that get paired with my treatment threw me for a loop. Even though I only receive steroids the day of treatment, they can stay in my system for days. Which means that, out of the blue, my heart will start racing as though someone just gave me a dose of adrenaline. That’s what the steroids do to me; make me eat everything in sight, get jittery, cause my heart to race and leave me feeling like I want to clean the entire house from top to bottom—then rearrange all of the furniture.
I watched a video during treatment that day, Louise Hay “You Can Heal Your Life”. This is a movie that I highly recommend for anyone seeking to transform their lives. It focuses on the Law of Attraction and why controlling your thoughts, as well as the emotion and energy behind them, is so important. Functioning on “autopilot” as I call it, is what most of us do on a day-to-day basis. We get so caught up in the mundane life of living on rotation. Each day becomes the same and we sometimes wonder, “will it ever change?” or “when is my life going to begin?”
Living an awakened life doesn’t mean you have to sit for weeks under the Bodhi tree to attain enlightenment, as Siddhartha did becoming Buddha. It just means waking the heck up. Live in the moment. Realize that you are so much more than a human being. We are all spiritual beings having a human experience while here on this earth. Give thanks everyday for everything around you, you’d be amazed at how much two simple words “thank you” power by a strong emotion of gratitude can change your life for the better. There is always, always something to be thankful for. Start small if this concept is way too “out there” for you by giving thanks for the air you breathe, for the pillow you lay your head on at night, for the adoration your child evokes from you every time they smile. Start simple and work your way toward the bigger things from there.
After chemo that day I was irritable, moody, exhausted and wired at the same time. The days following chemo, my mood only worsened. Hormones from my monthly cycle became an avalanche of emotional mood swings. The only thing I can compare it to was my first pregnancy. Wanting to cry for no reason at all, getting angry and irritated with something so trivial as misplacing something I needed.
I enjoy my own company. I have since I was a child, not that week though, I wanted to crawl out of my own skin and leave that other Amber far behind. You know those people who smile at perfect strangers, always seem to be upbeat no matter what is happening around them, the bubbly type, people people who have full length conversations with total random strangers, connecting on a deeper level? Yeah, that’s me. But the other Amber, she wants to be as far away from civilization as possible during treatment weeks.
I’ve really been fortunate enough to be surrounded by such a strong support system, which brings me to something I’ve been meaning to blog about, but I’ll get to that later.
I’ve never been closer to my parents, my siblings and some of my friends as I am now. My children have been my anchors—keeping me firmly rooted to the ground beneath, as the seas of life rage on all around me. My children give me a reason; make those two reasons, to get out of bed in the morning. That feeling I get when my kids run up to me as I walk through the door, squeezing my bones beneath bear hugs, there really is no greater joy. The unconditional love I receive from them keeps me fighting. Not to mention it totally makes up for the tantrums, back talk and days when I wonder “what the heck am I doing wrong?”
With every snuggle, every “you’re the best Mom in the whole Universe”, every smile, every night I get to watch my angels sleep, hear their beating heart and listen to the rhythmic hymns of their breath—those are the moments that make every single part of this journey worth it.