It seems that I have just traded in some of the horrible old side effects for some new ones. As promised by my nurses and oncologist, the nausea has become almost non-existent-thank goodness. The fatigue though has increased a great deal and they warned me of the possibility of joint/muscle pain which has also reared its ugly head. My hips and knees are so achy, it's hard to walk, but hopefully that will ease up as the week goes by. There is also the chance of developing neuropathy which I am not even willing to entertain the idea of right now. I am taking Vitamin B6 to try to avoid this but since I'm taking such a high dose of the drug, I will have to wait and see. They say it's reversible but as an athlete, the numbing of the hands and feet concerns me. My lips started to get numb yesterday, but my oncologist said "if it gets worse, call me, but this is probably just from the Taxol". It amazes me how much discomfort I find to be acceptable through all of this.
After making it through a fairly productive Friday considering it was the day after treatment, I had high hopes for Saturday. We slept in as both G and I were both exhausted from the week. Frankly, I was still recovering from the horrors of the week prior. Since I was not nauseous, I was able to make my favorite homemade waffles for breakfast and enjoy a cup of coffee with my guy. These are a couple of the simple things that I used to not think twice about doing, but now are treats for me.
We managed to get a road ride in even though I was really feeling the fatigue. My goal was to force myself to stay at the same pace throughout the course of the ride. It is actually a training technique that is quite effective and not as easy as it sounds. There is always the body and mostly the mind that wants to push harder or slow down. It was not my furthest ride but it was so beautiful out I was able to log 18 miles, so I was pleased. It was a good pace for G to be able to save his legs. Our friend RR and I were both trying to push him to race the Chain Stretcher the next day.
Sunday was one of the most humbling days for me, but I'm glad I went. It was race day and I was so happy that G made the last minute decision to race. Now I really had to go! My legs had started to feel pretty achy right as we were getting ready to leave so I was really worried about how the day was going to play out. I could not tell G how badly my legs hurt or he might have backed out. He was going to load my bike up on the car and I told him not to bother-I would not need my bike on that race day Sunday.
This was the first time I had been up to Blue Mountain since before my surgery. We pulled into the parking lot. I saw all the racers getting ready and circling the parking lots to keep their legs warmed up. There were lots of familiar faces. I’ve missed this scene but at the same time I felt very out of place. We had less than an hour until the start of the cat. 2 race so G hurried up to registration while I poked around the car negotiating my backpack of previsions and chatted it up with another racing couple that pulled up next to us.
As I slowly headed up to the lodge where the registration and start tent was- I felt tired, out of breath and anxious. I had not been at a race since April and a lot of folks had no idea what I had been going through. People started to come up to me and wanted to give me big hugs- I wanted to receive these hugs so badly but I had to stop them. I didn’t want to compromise my immunity at this stage of my treatment. The treatments lower my white blood cell count and can make me susceptible to even the smallest of germs that people don’t even know they have. Some understood and some I had to explain it to. Just seeing everyone and the smiling faces was enough for me. For now it is virtual hugs.
As great as it was to see everyone, it was a little humbling to see all the women that I would have been racing with this year. They looked so strong and healthy and as I was standing with them, I felt so weak. My hips and knees were aching so badly. I wondered if they could tell how much pain I was in? There is something ingrained in me that I have had my whole life- I used to use it when I raced or rode with a group: don’t let them know your suffering. I know this is different, but it’s hard to turn off that switch.
I tried to hike up to a spot on the course that I knew would be a great spectator spot, as it was one of the most technical rock sections. I only made it up so far until I decided that I had enough. I perched myself on a rock and watched the riders pass by and attempted to take some photos. I borrowed G’s camera- evidently I could use a few more lessons using it. Most of the photos came out blurry.
I was hanging out with a racing friend for a while who is also unable to race due to some health issues of her own. When she headed back to the lodge, I stayed and took the time to enjoy being alone in the woods. I have not been able to do that since the surgery. I waited to see all the racers pass on their first lap. At that point I felt really fatigued so I decided it best to head back to the lodge. Physically I was all done at this point- even the walk back through the woods took a lot out of me.
G did great! He finished strong and got the miles in his legs. I was so happy that one of us got to race the Chain Stretcher. I could not stay as long as I would have liked to but it really was so nice to see everyone. Even though I did not feel good or get to race, it was great to be a part of the racing scene again.