This Friday (March 2, 2018) I will be having my sixth chemotherapy treatment, which means that I will be halfway through my original treatment plan. My second chemo cycle (one cycle is two treatments) was difficult. The neuropathy in my hands became less uncomfortable due to the lowering of my Vinblastine dosage, but those two treatments just made me feel sicker: more nausea, more fatigue, more gastrointestinal upset, heart palpitations and anxiety. I was worried that I was going to feel progressively worse after every treatment.
Fortunately, the first treatment of my third cycle wasn’t as bad. I was able to leave my house on the Monday after, which is pretty rare for me, to pick up our new puppy, Frankie. Since then, symptom-wise, I’ve had one of the best periods between treatments since I started chemo in December. During my last visit with my oncologist, I even received the news that if my next PET scan (now scheduled for April 7) doesn’t show any remaining active disease, two drugs will be removed from my protocol: Bleomycin and the steroid that goes along with it. This would be fantastic, since Bleomycin has the nastiest long term side effects and the steroid I am given to prevent me from having an allergic reaction to Bleomycin raises my blood sugar and is the most likely cause of my heart palpitations post-treatment.
With all this great news, I should be feeling awesome, especially since I have a new puppy in the house, but I am struggling: mostly with Frankie.
My mother and I haven’t had a puppy for 15 years and, needless to say, we had completely forgotten how difficult it is to raise one. It doesn’t help that we were a little spoiled with our last dog, Daisy. For example, she was at least partially crate trained before she came home with us, she had excellent bladder control, and, being a terrier, she was smart and easy to train. We kinda took it for granted that we knew what we were doing. Frankie had only ever been in an activity pen and had only been outside a few times before we brought her home. She had accidents in her crate nearly every night because she had no idea it was her bed and we figured we would toss her in there and she would just understand how it worked, exactly the same way Daisy had.
We are definitely doing the best that we can and the strategies that we are now using to crate train and house train are working, but it’s been very stressful for me. I keep worrying that I’m going to make mistakes that will give her bad behavioural habits and every time she has an accident inside, I feel as though I’ve failed her somehow. The guilt is also difficult. Whenever you get frustrated at your puppy, you feel terribly guilty about it, because we all feel like we need to love and adore them all the time.
I also have other worries about the logistics of managing everything during chemo weekends, since my mother’s mobility issues are worsening recently. I won’t go into any detail about this, but it’s made sleeping difficult: I am so worried about chemo, my mother, and Frankie that I haven’t been sleeping well. Over the past 2 nights, I’ve probably only gotten about 7 hours, which isn’t great for a person who is undergoing chemotherapy. I’ve been laying awake in bed worrying and feeling anxious.
Sleep deprivation + worries about raising a puppy + cancer and chemo = stressful combination. Up until now, I have managed the stress and emotional difficulties of cancer and chemotherapy quite well, but the addition of everything else has made me hit a wall — it’s all catching up with me at once. I’ve started reading an ebook that I think will help me to process the puppy stress, but I think it’s going to take me awhile to get used to everything and get over the guilt.
Update: I wrote this on Monday, February 26. It’s now Tuesday the 27 and I had a great sleep last night. I’m feeling a bit better about things, but we have a long way to go.