I got a wake-up call this week. Turns out that you can’t just will away effects from radiation. Especially if you have an autoimmune disorder and your body tends to spend its spare time trying to kick your ass anyway. (See any of my “Life With Fibro” posts.)
It’s only been about 6 weeks since I had radiation treatments. You can make it sound interesting and high tech and say “CyberKnife Treatments”, but it still amounts to some pretty high doses of radiation in relatively short order. I had what amounts to roughly 30 radiation treatments in 5 treatments. Inside of a week. In my brain.
And I’m a pretty strong person. I’ve survived 6 surgeries including a hip replacement at 34, a year of fighting off E. Coli that wanted to set up shop in my left kidney, pneumonia in both lungs, aaaaannnndddd a bunch of other stuff that makes someone stronger than average. I’ve lost 50 pounds the hard way (counting calories, working out every day). So if you ask my friends and family to pick a word to describe me, it’s “strong”.
But right now I don’t feel that strong. I got sat down on my ass pretty hard when I ended up in the ER at 1:30 am Monday morning. I’ve tried to live normally, but nothing about having a brain tumor is normal. I thought I could fight through the ugly side affects, but for both of my family’s annual trips to the local Renn Fest I paid for the busy day and all the activity. The first time we went, I guess I could have expected it to be tough to recover from because it was only a week or 10 days after treatments. But my mom and my son were here and it was important to me to still be me for my family. And I felt like crap the next day but some pain and nausea meds and I made it through.
The second trip was actually worse. I knew it was going to be tough the next day, but I just had more and more pain throughout the day and my normal meds weren’t touching it. So by 1:30 am I was in the ER. An IV and pain and nausea meds helped, but the shocking thing this time was my lab results. I’m always grumbling about how I have crap for an immune system (because I have an autoimmune thing so my body thinks it should attack me). However, if my lab results are any indication, I really don’t have an immune system right now.
My lymphocytes (L-cells for those of you that know what I’m talking about) are off. Like far enough outside of where they should be that people being diagnosed with immuno-compromising disorders see these numbers. Or, as it turns out, people that have had radiation therapy. Also, my potassium was low. Not admit-me-into-cardio low, but low enough that I wasn’t being discharged until I was given potassium. Which means we’re talking about my heart here. Which would almost be funny (not funny haha, but funny wtf) if I hadn’t mentioned to my husband at some point through the diagnosis and treatment options meetings that I always thought my heart would take me out, not my brain.
So, I’m dealing with dropping back a few yards and reconsidering my current situation. When I was first diagnosed with a brain tumor, it was the first time I really considered the idea that this might finally be the thing that takes me out.
I have been through treatment, but clearly I still have a fight ahead of me.