Winter Blues

Call it the Winter Blues, Seasonal Sadness, or whatever. I always found myself feeling sad or blue as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder. Being on chemotherapy doesn’t make the situation any better. Watching the Chicago Bears lose to the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t help.

Since my prior post, I completed my first cycle of chemotherapy (paclitaxel) and started my second cycle on January 2, 2019. Related side effects such as fatigue (extreme tiredness), nausea, taste alteration, and cognitive impairment or ‘chemo brain’ have started to appear. I nap during a good portion of the day and am losing weight from a lack of appetite.

6903140-largeEach morning my pillowcase is covered with silver hair that has fallen out during the night. Being a kind soul, Lorie lint rolls my pillow clean in the morning before I notice. Trying to buy me at least another day of not knowing just how rapidly I’m going bald again. She is such an angel! Worse is the fact that my eyebrows and eyelashes will also fall out.

The bone pain and radiation pneumonitis that emerged in late 2018 remain my biggest challenge. Most days start with a coughing fit that lasts several minutes. This leaves me out of breath and dizzy. I recover in approximately 5-10 minutes and usually have a couple more episodes randomly throughout the day.

I transitioned from a systemic steroid (prednisone) to an inhaler around mid-December. My cough worsened, and I’ve been back on 30mg of prednisone daily for the past week. So far, 30mg of prednisone seems the best at managing my radiation pneumonitis issues. It also helps control my bone pain, although I still require a walking cane to be safe.

Given the aforementioned, our family had a relatively quiet Holiday Season. The highlight was actually staying awake until midnight to welcome the New Year. Perhaps made possible with excess energy from the steroid?

After two more chemo sessions (this week and next), I’ll have a periodic CT scan to determine the effects from two cycles of paclitaxel monotherapy. I’ll provide an update around that time unless anything significant develops in the interim.

5 thoughts on “Winter Blues”

  1. Whew….you’re still kicking it. I was getting worried. As always, I’m happy to get an update. Hang in there (insert image of cat hanging from branch).

  2. Sorry about The Bears. Love getting an update. Praying for you as always. My husband has his 3rd scan coming up and fingers crossed. Apparently, a scan every 3 months for two years so we just try to keep anxiety at bay.

  3. You are always on mind and in my prayers. We just arrived in Delray Beach, Florida for a few months hopefully to escape the Winter Blues. Working from here so if ever you want to talk, just call.

  4. You are obviously stressed and not enjoying the chemo experience at all, but the underlying tone is impressive – seeing the glass as more or less half full (or better). Thankfully, you have a comfortable home, loving and attentive wife and good medical care. Losing weight from lack of appetite is worrisome though. As you know very well, chemo only poisons the cancer and the body needs nutrition to fight and rebuild. Try to eat as much nutritious food as you can, even if it is just a little. Also, the days are already getting noticeably longer, which should cheer everyone up. Good luck.

  5. Dear Michael – I got around to reading A Walk With Purpose this holiday season and wanted to say a massive “thank you” for sharing your story. Although I came to be aware of you through this blog and your advocacy around HPV, I really appreciated you sharing your professional journey. Sharing your roller coaster ride has been both inspirational and sobering, I hope you get a small sense of what a difference you’re making through your writing. Thank you.

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