I haven’t always been good about making my bed in the morning.
In fact, for much of my life I thought it was a complete waste of time, since I was just going to get right back in it that night. No one was likely to see it, I thought, so why go to the trouble to make it? But as I’ve gotten older, there’s something about coming home to a bed that’s been made that’s awfully appealing. So awhile back, I started making my bed the minute I got out of it in the morning, just like my mom always tried to get me to do when I was little. “Just make it up right then,” she’d say, “before you take another step. Then you’ll start your day having already accomplished something.”
When I started chemotherapy nine weeks ago, I decided that making my bed would be my benchmark – a way of gauging how I was feeling every day, my level of strength and endurance of whatever side effects I might be experiencing.
As long as I can at least make my bed, I thought, I’m good.
It’s been nine weeks and I haven’t missed a day.
But I’m going to be honest with you – there have been quite a few days when I didn’t feel like making my bed.
All that I knew of chemotherapy when I started was that it caused nausea and vomiting, that it made you tired, you lost your hair and that you might have mouth sores. My doctor confirmed that my hair would fall out and that I would be tired, but more so she stressed that every patient’s response to chemo is different. No two patients – even with very similar diagnoses and the same treatment regimen – will respond the same.
Seems I always have to be different.
While I’ve had moments of stomach upset, I haven’t had a lot of that and I’m thankful. I so feel for my friends who have had nothing but stomach upset.
Right before my last infusion, about three weeks ago, I started realizing my energy level was decreasing. I made a trip to the grocery store and had to stop and rest against my cart a couple of times. Before long I decided to just get the essentials, so I could check out and get home. Standing in the bread aisle, fearful of how fatigued I felt and how much my legs hurt, tears welled up. I started telling myself aloud, over and over, “it won’t always be this way, Sally. It won’t always be this way.”
When I got to my car, I had to sit there and rest awhile before I could drive. I called my neighbor, Nancy, to alert her that I was going to need help unloading the groceries.
Over the next week I felt worse. Even short walks, going from the couch to the bathroom, were exhausting. Standing to brush my teeth, or make coffee, unload the dishwasher, fix something to eat, became a monumental ordeal. I found myself reserving energy to do the most important household tasks, and having to rest in between.
I feel like such a woose. More like Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars, spending much of my time on the couch these days.
My doctor reassures me I’m not a woose.
I know people who would give anything to be able to make their own beds. To pull the sheets all taut and crisp, tucked into the mattress. To pull the comforter up and spread out all the wrinkles. To place the pillows just so.
Time may come when I won’t be able to make my bed.
But that wasn’t today.