Sunday, February 7, 2010

Back to work

Tomorrow I will be going back to work on a part-time basis.  I'll go in on Monday, Tuesday and (probably) Thursday afternoons.  I would have liked to say I can come in mornings but it's impossible.  I need 12 hours of sleep a night at this point, and when I say need it, I mean I cannot function at all without it.  I simply can't get up - my body refuses.  So, I will go in about 11:30 to 12:00. 

I'm extremely fortunate in that I have an understanding boss and HR department. They are actually allowing me to come back a little early and accommodating a part-time schedule, which I understand they don't usually do. 

This should bring me joy, a step towards getting my life back to normal.  But I'm rather nervous because I'm not sure exactly how much I am physically up to.  The last thing I want to do is be unreliable.

The fatigue chemo brings on is hard to describe.  I woke up today at 10:30.  I was tired still, and still a bit queasy, but decided that I would leave the house.  I wanted to buy some ballet flats - all the better to sooth the neuropathic foot.  (I'm a heel junkie - that's going to have to change.)  Since my husband has been doing almost all of the grocery shopping, I thought I'd also go to the grocery store and give him a break and let him watch the super bowl.  So, I got dressed.

That act required a rest period.

I left my house at 2:00.  I had to sit down several times in the mall to catch my breath.   This, by the way, is a very tiny, dyiing mall, with only a Macy's, A Broadway Shoes and two or three little stores inside.  It's not like I was walking inside the Mall of America.  So, it was me and grandpa, sitting in the chairs in the middle of the store: one waiting for the energy to move and the other waiting for his wife to finish her shopping.

I bought my shoes and when it came time to pay, I actually leaned on the counter.

Honestly.  Elbows on it, head down, catching my breath.  Not being dramatic, not thinking about myself.  Just waiting to breathe and regain some strength before I realized how ridiculous that must have appeared.  I was dressed trendy and bewigged - on first glance I didn't look old, cancer-stricken and worn out.  But, what I didn't know was that waiting in line is energy-depleting..  The clerk joked with me that I must have had a hard day shopping and I agreed.  I didn't tell her that I'd been walking for all of 15 minutes.

I thought about skipping the grocery store but decided to soldier on.  I bought a rotisserie chicken, some tubbed mashed potatoes and some carrots - and asked for help to my car.  

I  now desperately need a nap.  I need to sleep like a marathon runner in the Dubai desert needs water - deeply, urgently and endlessly.

I've been awake 6 1/2 hours total.

This must be the chemo-induced fatigue everybody talks about.  It surrounds you like a fog.  Even simple things, like getting dressed, require rest.

So naturally, I'm concerned about my work productivity.  My job is a desk job so once I get there I should be okay.  But, it sometimes requires some low-level thinking, and I'm finding even that hard.  My memory is completely shot and I can't write a paragraph of this blog without forgetting a word I intended to use. Chemo-brain rears its ugly head.  (Thank goodness for tabbed browsing and  I get very confused at certain things, anything that requires memory or organization.

It will be nice to do something useful, and turn my focus to something aside from cancer. It will be comforting to have a place to go where a man in a white coat isn't asking me intrusive questions, or where somebody isn't putting an IV needle in my arm.   It will be nice to be in a place where everybody isn't focused on me, and where other people have problems too.   I'm looking forward to being there and seeing my coworkers again and trying out some normality. 

Naturally,  I fear I'm not going to be up to normality, as much as I'm ready for it.    But, over the years,  I've learned we often end up being able to do things that we originally thought we couldn't.  So, maybe going to work will be energizing for me. Maybe it won't be any more exhausting than being at home.

The one thing I do know - this too, shall pass. 

If not, and you need me, check under my desk.  I'll be taking a nap.



  1. If you have your eyes closed, no one will see you under the desk. :-)

  2. Ann have you had another MUGA or echo since starting treatment? I'm wondering about your description of catching your breath ....

    Hope your first day back at work went well.

  3. It was good to be back. But, I needed a 3 hour nape afterwards. It hasn't been 3 months since my MUGA yet, but it's probably my low red cell count causing the breathlessness. I hope!

  4. I hope you had a good first day back at work today Ann!! My thoughts are with you!

  5. So no napping under the desk? I actually used to work in an office where one of the girls would sleep for hours under her desk and everyone just thought she was at lunch!

    Congrats on your first day back at work!

  6. Hope your first day went well. I am on my first chemo treatment and the fatigue is bad already, I can't imagine trying to go to work. I sit with my boys all around me on the bed and we 'do school' all day, much more than that, I'm not sure I could do!


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