Despair and the Dark Nights of the Soul

I have had a troubling cough for a few weeks now. It could be related to chemo; it could be allergies; it could be that the one tumor’s growth is constricting airways. I’ve been able to tolerate it okay until the last couple of days when it woke me in the middle of the night coughing so hard I almost threw up. I got out my homeopathic cough medicine that has helped tremendously, but I have to take that every 2 hours, which makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep. I have some cough medicine with codeine that I don’t want to take unless absolutely necessary; it makes me dopey and constipated and that I don’t need right now. I finally took some just after lunch and slept away the afternoon. But I didn’t cough.

The fatigue I’m feeling now could be residual from the cough medicine, or it could be the side effects kicking in already from Tuesday’s chemo. I’m also feeling depressed and listless. I sometimes wonder whether all this chemo is really helping or hurting. When I have these dark nights of despair, I have trouble remembering the last time I actually felt good. My team is wonderful at coming up with solutions, but there’s only so much they can do. I do try to stay positive, but there are times when I wonder if all we are doing is worth it in the long run. And seeing others succumb to this disease makes me feel worse. Another warrior just entered hospice because treatments are no longer useful.

And again there’s the twinges and aches and pains that could be from the chemo, or new metastases, or the current tumors growing. It can be so trying. I know these feelings will pass once the fatigue eases. And in the meantime I have to just be patient. But it’s hard.

I told my PA about the face tenderness; of course she’d never heard of anyone having that side effect before. First she said maybe I should take the Dexamethasone for a few days, but then we decided to wait and see if it happened this time since I wouldn’t be getting the Avastin on this round – I’ll only get that every 2 weeks. And it was disconcerting to see my CEA had jumped up more than 20 points from the last one. I don’t know what’s going on, and I’m scared that things are progressing more than they should. I can only wait to see what happens after two cycles of this treatment when we do another CT scan. I’m finding it more and more difficult to be patient.

Steve keeps telling me to just be patient and things will work out, and I tell him he’s not the one going through this. He and I both know he wouldn’t be tolerating this anywhere near as well as I am. I know he wants me to feel better and to beat this, but I get so tired of fighting and wondering who is going to win, me or the cancer. It’s exhausting. I so want to feel better and to beat this, too. I need rest and a good night’s sleep.

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20 thoughts on “Despair and the Dark Nights of the Soul

  1. Dearest Ruth…I hear you…I’m scared for you too…and what words can help? Everything seems empty in the face of this enormous brutality that you are dealing with. My heart sighs with sorrow for/with you. I just want to tell you that everything will be okay, but neither one of us knows that for certain. In my heart, I’m sitting with you, in that unknowing and in that dark night of the soul. You are not alone, though at times it must feel like that deep down where it counts. My prayer tonight is that you sleep well and feel relief from that brutal cough. I carry you in my heart and prayers throughout this night. xoxoxoxoxoxo

  2. Oh Ruth, you do such a good job of explaining your situation and the vexations you are experiencing! I can feel the frustration of your words coming right off the screen. I wish I could hold you in my arms and tell you it is all going to be OK. But since I can’t do that, I’ll leave that for Steve, and simply say this: Rest is important. Very important, as your body is fighting and that effort is sapping your energy at the same time that you are not able to get that healing sleep you need. I know you don’t want the cough med with the codeine, but maybe if that is all that will stop the coughing, you need to take it at least often enough to get a good night’s sleep. (And maybe then add more fiber to your diet to counteract the constipation?) I’m no nurse, but that’s what i would do if it were me. Meanwhile, like Sharon and your other friends, I hold you in my heart and pray for you daily. With love,

  3. Ruth, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Thank you for articulating it so well. Sending wishes for a good night’s sleep and no more coughing.

  4. Sleep seems to be a theme, doesn’t it? I’m sorry this is laying you temporarily low and I wish for you frequent naps in sunny places until your spirits rally again and your sleep at night becomes easier. I hope that you find moments of relief and humor today to lighten the weight.

  5. Oh Ruth, I’m so sorry. This disease just sucks. I so understand wondering if aches might be from new tumors, and it seems the worry and fear always hits me in the dark of night, too. I can’t make it better, but if it helps, please know that I am thinking of you and perhaps understand what you are feeling.

  6. saundragoodman says:

    I have faith that you will tolerate what you have to and take the syrup when you must. Only you know what your body can withstand, even when you stop to question it. I understand why you’re frightened and I’m frightened for you. Tomorrow you will think it is worth it for today.

  7. Your determination and strength have been such a force, Ruth. Lack of sleep definitely takes its toll. I hope you can find something to help in that area, it will make such a difference.

  8. When I read your writing about this battle with cancer, I’m awed by you. I don’t think I could bear what you are enduring. I just want you to know I read these posts. I hear you.

  9. Ruth, so sorry to hear of your ongoing challenges. I can’t imagine what you are going through although I know at some future date, I may find out. I’ll be thinking about you. Take care. Day at a time.

Ruth passed away from cancer. Please remove from list

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