The Long Road Back to Normal

March 29, 2012

The 2nd week following chemo was a long one indeed.

With my blood cell counts so low, I was at a high risk for infection.  And despite all efforts, an infection I got.

Wearing one of the masks from Dr. P for an outing to see The Hunger Games in an attempt to avoid catching infectious germs.


Oddly enough, the infection I got was in my gums of all places.  It was extremely painful.  My gums were swollen.  Which in turn led to my entire face swelling up like a basketball.  In addition, my neck swelled up where my glands were working overtime to try to produce enough white blood cells to fight the sucker off.  I will not mince words.  I was miserable.  I had to take pain killers every 4 hours, which did not take away the pain… just made it bearable.  And all I could do was sleep.  The pain was too much to do anything else.

A trip to the dentist, a prescription for antibiotics and 5 days later… I was finally able to eat solids again.

But I was really starting to get worried about what all this pain and weakness was going to do in the way of my cell counts.  FG and I made some clam chowder with turkey bacon bits in effort to boost both white and red blood cells.

By Monday, I was feeling much better and headed in for my 2nd round of labs post chemo treatment numero uno.  Praise to the heavens above… my blood cell counts were completely normal.  No nasty bone marrow affecting shot for this girl.

Now… who knows if it was all the B12 and Zinc that helped, or whether that was just the amount of time my body needed to recover, or even if it was a miracle as a result from everyone’s prayers and positive energy.  I simply know I am immensely grateful to be in the clear for my next round of chemo.

Tuesday, AA and FG took me to the zoo to celebrate the return of my blood cell counts to normal.  I was up for a full 12 hours without a nap.  The longest span of time since chemo round numero uno.  We walked all over that park, got plenty of sunshine and ate some dippin’ dots.  So good.

And yesterday… I felt completely back to normal.  I was awake without a nap from 7:30am to 11pm.  A major feat.

I woke up to this guy yesterday morning. That's enough to make anyone feel energized.


I walked an extra long walk with Oms.  Got some reading and writing done.  Picked a little on the banjo.  And made dinner with friends.  Awesome day.  I am super happy to have FINALLY gotten my energy back.  I know it will only be around for the next few days as chemo round numero dos is happening on Monday… but it feels wonderful.  I’m gonna revel in it as long as it lasts.

In other news… my hair is starting to fall out in clumps.  Luckily… I have a lot of hair, so you can’t really tell how rapidly it is thinning.   Yet.   But, seriously… I feel like the next time I sneeze it will all *poof* right out of my head… like I’m a baby bird in some Warner Bros. cartoon.  If only I could plan it… make that happen in the middle of a crowded restaurant or something… it would totally be worth seeing the looks on strangers’ faces.

If it could happen comically, I might be okay.

But right now… it’s hard.  I tear up a little every time I step into the shower, convinced that by the time I step back out, my hair will have all gone down the drain.

I’m very scared about having no hair for the next 5 months.  And am a little terrified of how long the growing back out process will take.  But I’m breathing.  Just breathing through it.

End cancer chapter 9.



8 Responses to “The Long Road Back to Normal”

  1. Kathleen Says:

    ❤ you, Lady Gwen

  2. Jen Says:

    Girl your strength and positive attitude are awesome! I continue to pray for you as you are going through this. I am sure it is a shock to see your hair fall out but hang in there and get a really crazy wig to make you laugh. Think of you everyday and continuing to pray for you! Hugs!

  3. Dawn Says:

    So glad counts and energy are both up Gwen! You are amazing, and you are not alone, thank you for sharing your journey with us. Thoughts and prayers continue…

  4. Mischa Says:

    You are beautiful with or without your hair. It will grow back one day when your cancer is gone for good. Hang in there. 🙂

  5. Rachel Hroncich Says:

    I know we’ve never met but we have some mutual friends who adore you. You’re an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your journey. I’m sending you tons of positive energy!!!!

  6. Evalyn Baron Says:

    Gwen – thanks so much for being courageous enough to write about this in detail. It will be of incomparable help to so many others -SO many others- who have to go through it too. I admire you more than I can say for having the creative and personal strength to record this painful, tough physical journey, while showing us all how a brilliant spirit can make it all bearable, even, dare I say, useful, to that spirit’s growth. Peter and I send all love your way, with healing, healing, healing to embrace you. Love to all there…xxevalyn

  7. GA Says:

    I sounds as if you were very anxious about shots affecting your bone marrow because your blood cell count was low. Your bone marrow serves two main functions. Yellow marrow stores fat and isn’t an issue in this case. Red marrow is where all of your blood cells are initially created and begin to differentiate into the various blood cell types. The shots affecting your bone marrow would probably be something like EPO to stimulate blood cell production. In fact, EPO shots have been used by some atheletes to enhance their performance (kind of the medical equivalent of training at high altitude). They are a practice banned by most authorities regulating sports events. You probably wouldn’t want to take them and head directly to an Olympic race, but I am guessing that wasn’t the concern. It’s always better if your body can do it on its own and I glad you didn’t need another intervention this time. Hopefully this info will help with the anxiety if the need does arise in the future. I,m sure it’s tough, but you are doing a great job handling it all. Hang in there!

  8. Scott Zeigler Says:

    gwen. I feel your pain with the hair clumps lost in the shower. Lucky for you it will grow back. I think your super great and look forward to seeing you in nyc again. hang in there and personally i think every one should shave their head once in their life. So if you want to have a head shaving party please invite me. ❤
    -scott z

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