My wife has been an absolute saint recently. Every time she asks me how I'm doing, the answer is the same: "Tired". Yet, she never complains about this answer, she encourages me to rest when I can, and supports me whether I choose to train or rest or just simply sleep.
I was hoping that this week off of chemo would have me feeling better and training more. Instead, I think things have been even worse than the past few weeks. And, I think my wife has figured out why.
It's been odd to me that my training is going better during chemo weeks than during the week after chemo. It just seems to me that I should recover somewhat from the chemo, and the second week should be better.
But, I think the answer lies in one of my medications - dexamethasone. It's a steroid that I take the entire week that I get chemo. Dex starts on Sunday. Chemo is Monday. After three days, I taper a bit. And then, later in the week, as I get some IV hydration and some anti-nausea meds, they push the dose up again temporarily. And then, I taper off the medicine for the week after chemo.
So, I really think that the dex is creating the illusion that I'm not exhausted, and it's letting me work out during chemo weeks.
To be honest, I'm drained so much right now that my legs actually ache when I'm sitting in a chair doing nothing. Pain medicine takes the intense ache away, but not the fatigue. Yesterday, I was so tired that I walked fewer than 1500 steps all day. My plan was to go for a walk after work. My wife suggested that we drive home and walk the dog. I argued a bit, but ultimately agreed. I didn't argue because I didn't want to walk the dog. I love going out for walks with the dog and my wife. I just knew that I was tired enough that I would fall asleep on the drive home and then be too tired to walk with my wife and the dog. And, that's exactly what happened.
I slept on the way home. Took another nap at home. Cooked dinner (reheated leftovers, to be honest). Watched some TV. And, went to bed.
Some Pink Floyd lyrics come to mind:
I gotta admit that I'm a little bit confused
Sometimes it seems to me as if I'm just being used
Gotta stay awake, gotta try and shake off this creeping malaise
If I don't stand my own ground, how can I find my way out of this maze?
I will pretend that earlier in this song that Pink Floyd didn't talk about an old man dying of cancer. That's not the part I was thinking about.
So, how can I find my way out of this maze?
For now, I am trying the following:
- Take advantage of the dex. Exercise during chemo weeks when I'm feeling better.
- Modify the CrossFit workouts so that I can get through them without making things worse. I'm not making any apologies for scaling the workouts. I'm doing what I can.
- In my non-chemo weeks, do my best to do CF every other day. If I can go every other day, even at a lower level of effort, that should be enough to maintain some level of fitness.
- Take advantage of spring weather and walk as much as possible. This can be hard when my legs ache so much, but I have to make the effort.
- Listen to my body. Last night, sleep won over a walk. I simply need to accept that and move on. There is no sense beating myself up over something I can't control.
- Know that things will get better as chemo winds down.
- Know that every workout I do now will make my recovery from surgery go that much better.
- Focus on the little things now, knowing that the little things will add up to success in the big picture.
During my chemo a year ago, I was never this tired. I honestly assumed this chemo was going to be easier, not harder. My doctors have made it clear that this is a tough chemo and they think I'm doing great. It's only by my own warped standards that I'm struggling.
But, I will press on, train when I can, and appreciate those days that I feel good enough to train.