Recovery is a b*tch!

When I finished radiation and chemo treatment they told me that I would continue to feel worse for a couple of more weeks while the radiation and chemicals continued to work their havoc on my body, and then in the third week I would start to feel better. What I internalized that as meaning was that after three weeks I would be back to my old self. Well, the first part (feeling worse for a couple of weeks) was certainly true. My wishful interpretation, of course was far off the mark. I’ve continued to have weird symptoms even as the sores in my mouth and throat have healed – my mouth is pretty dry as a result of the treatment beating up on the salivary glands, my sense of taste is really strange (salad still tasted really bitter to me), I’m cold most of the time (which is probably related to my having lost over twenty pounds during treatment – I now weigh less than when I started college!), and, since weaning myself off the painkillers a couple of weeks back, I’m not sleeping worth a damn. The doctors, however, are quite pleased with the progress, so that’s good. And as most of you know, my first post-treatment scan showed no sign of any disease, which was fantastic news! They don’t call you cured until you have three years of clear scans, but so far, so good!

But worst of all is the lack of energy – just walking a mile or so feels like real exercise. I’m used to being in pretty good physical shape, and the thought of having to work hard at gaining all that back again is a bit discouraging, though I know it will come – but NOT SOON ENOUGH!

Michele made the wise observation last night that there’s a reason they call people who’ve been through cancer treatment “survivors” – it’s like a war has been waged, and unfortunately it’s your body that’s been the battleground.

But today was my first day back at work (half-time for a few weeks) – and it felt great to be there and see everybody. On the way back!

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12 thoughts on “Recovery is a b*tch!”

  1. Hang in there buddy. Better times are coming. Maybe it’s like that mountain top hike, you think the peak and your lunch is just over that rise, only to discover that it isn’t. It may be the next rise, or the next, but if you keep hiking you’ll get there. We are thinking of you & family. Kevin & Monica

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  2. Amen. I remember. I just wanted so badly for it to be completely over when it was over. I wanted my old life back. I found my hope in the fact that when you have so little energy, the little gains become really noticeable. It’ll happen! You’ll get there! Thinking of you.

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  3. Wow! You’ve come a long way, Oren. Can understand your frustration at the lack of energy but it will come back.

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  4. What may seem like baby steps to others are huge successes for those in recovery. The fatigue is really difficult to make understandable to people that have not fought the war. How lucky you are that Michele has been so understanding. Insomnia? Feel free to contact me in the dark hours any time. I can empathize. I was just telling a friend that there is now a permanent line in my life that separates the before me from the me that I have become and am still evolving into. You have come so far in such a short period of time. You are quite inspirational. I love you!

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  5. Be gentle, my friend. You will come to thank testosterone, once you get the sh*t out of your system. It truly is amazing how well we recover, once the bad is out of the way. And also amazing how much bad we put in our way, but that’s a rant for another day. Your giant heart and stubborn streak are an inspiration. Being tender and fierce at the same time is a great challenge. B^)

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  6. Walk, walk, walk, and then walk some more. (Then ride, ride, ride your bike and ride some more). That was my recipe. Won’t be that long before you are back to your (old 🙂 self! My theory (which worked for me) is to keep moving, push yourself as hard as you can without jeopardizing your recovery! You were really active and healthy before cancer and you can be really active and healthy as a survivor!! Love you!

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  7. Wow. Having never had cancer or been particularly physically active I don’t know if if I can even join this conversation but I just wanted to say that some of us (that’s me) find our aging bodies and increasing lack of energy a daily challenge. Yesterday I was so pleased with myself for getting out for two 1 hour walks, today I hope to find the strength to do one. Of all the comments above I most relate to Bob’s be gentle with yourself. And while I understand the sentiment behind Cindy’s comments I don’t go for the “push yourself as hard as you can” business. Take it easy and cut yourself some slack. Life is a marathon not a sprint, the important thing is to stay in the race (I know that’s not original). Focus on all that gives you joy.

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  8. Ups and downs will continue, but I’m sure your trend line will be up. Here’s hoping you make it to CSG in Iowa; I assure you it will be a great reception if you do. Alas I won’t be there, but that’s another story …

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    1. Thanks, Bob – I was really sad to have to miss your party at I2, and was hoping to see you in Iowa. Oh, well – I’ll likely be in Seattle mid August and perhaps we can catch up then.

      cheers – – Oren

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  9. Hey Oren,

    Total empathy here. The frustration, the changes, the will I ever be like my old self again mentioned above by others- yes. AND, keep doing what you are doing, keep moving yourself toward your goals. You will get there! It’s different for each person, but for many, it takes about three years. My advice: Be gentle with yourself at the same time that you push. Some of the physical issues,can also be impacted by the confrontation mortality itself, which is a rather large experience. Or, it was for me!

    Keep going buddy!

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