Sleep and Shingles

For the last few weeks, my pattern has been to (1) say that “next week I think I’ll be up to 50% work” and then the following week (2) I sleep through all of two or three work days, and barely get in a couple hours of actual work during the remaining days, and then (3) repeat. I feel for my Leave and Disability person, who has had to jump through administrative hoops every time my return-to-work schedule changes.

My ambition to work, and disappointment at falling short, probably comes about because when I’m not dead tired I look and feel normal—complete with energy and wit. When people see me for the first time since diagnosis, the universal reaction is to say, “you look great! I wouldn’t even have known you were ill just from looking at you.“ It feels as though I should be able to work normally, yet it just doesn’t happen.

To my immense gratitude, my colleagues at Target also have a universal response when they hear of my efforts: they urge me to relax, rest, take care of myself first and worry about work when my body is ready. That universality includes management—a clear sign of a healthy work environment. To all my Target peeps: thank you! I’m doing my best to just relax and not worry.

If you inferred something new from the above paragraph, you were right: last week I physically made it into the office at Target for the first time since my diagnosis in January. I also made it in once this week. After so long away it was weird and nice to be back, also it was great to see so many colleagues again in person. Since I was only there for an hour or so each time, I would not say I contributed much value to the team’s efforts; but since my current sub-team mobs most of the time I was at least able to participate. Yay, mobbing!

Symptom-wise, last week I also got an itchy and painful sore on my forehead. My doctor suspected it was shingles and gave me an antiviral prescription to treat it. Since then, those sores have retreated somewhat and become less irritated. At the same time, I have had some other, less-visible spots break out in a rash which is both itchy and painful (and not at all fun). Going after that with an anti-fungal creme. My skin seems to be extra-sensitive all over. Any time I sweat, I get what seems to be a heat rash (splotchy-red and itchy) in every place with both sweat and constant clothing contact. While I was in bed this morning, Schmutzig the cat licked the left side of my forehead in a gambit for my attention. Her tongue left a red rash behind. Apparently I have a case of “princess skin.”

I am very pleased to report that the numbness in my feet is almost entirely gone at this point. There’s just a touch of tingling there, and even that is intermittent.

Today’s great cause for celebration is that when my arsenic infusion wraps up in less than an hour, I will have a four-week break from arsenic trioxide, from any IV infusions, and in fact from any scheduled, cancer-related clinic appointments. Four weeks! This will set a new record since my diagnosis in January. Hopefully it will also provide a respite from this crazy fatigue, and allow me to spend a little more time among work colleagues. Fingers crossed.

And that’s my recent news. It’s growing less dramatic over time, and that is a very good thing.


Cross-posted to Facebook:

More Fatigue, More Rest, and a Tough Choice

After my landing and infusion on Monday, I went home and pretty much slept the entire afternoon and evening. Tuesday I saw my oncologist, and after that the jury came back in: I pushed myself too hard with the weekend in NYC. I have done very little other than sleep since arriving home, and still my body feels like sleeping more.

My tough decision came after talking to my doctor about the wisdom of hopping onto another plane to attend another conference in another city. He did not order me not to go. The choice remained mine to make. He did, however, advise that my body has been through a lot in recent weeks and months, and that pushing it more ran the risk of disrupting my therapy—which in turn could run the risk of a cancer relapse. Although there is no way to quantify the risk, he suggested that staying home to rest was clearly the lower-risk move for my ongoing recovery and health.


To my great relief and gratitude, the conference organizers were more than okay with my last-minute withdrawal: aware of my recent health situation, they suggested that I had made the right choice and urged me to get rest and not to worry. Organizers of Agile & Beyond: THANK YOU! I hope to attend and present in some future year, and I have some great ideas for sessions to give there.

Had I gone through with the conference plan, I would have landed in Detroit just a few minutes ago and would now be connecting with friends and fellow speakers to share a ride to the venue. To my Agile & Beyond colleagues: have a great event and enjoy the camaraderie. I am sorry not to be with you. In particular I am sorry to miss those who weren’t in New York last weekend. Hopefully we can catch up at Agile2017 this summer.

Back on the health front, the days of solid rest seem to be paying off: I had a low-grade temp for most of the last week, but today I was down at normal again. The black circles also seem to have faded from beneath my eyes. Still I tire quickly. Having gotten the conferences behind me, my next focus (other than continuing to get enough rest) will be on really getting myself back to work.


Cross-posted to Facebook:

Fatigue and Travel

Contrary to plan, last week I logged into work even less than the week before. Apparently the resumption of chemo took an immediate toll. Again. Why would this surprise me? Maybe I’m just afflicted with unreasonable hope. 🙂

The really interesting bit is that last week also marked the arrival of my first scheduled conference of the year: Agile Coach Camp US, which just wrapped up in New York City. I’ll put event details into a separate post. On the cancer topic this event is interesting because it marks the first time that I have really pushed myself to do things that require sustained energy: flying to NYC, attending Coach Camp events, visiting family and a couple of friends (sorry we couldn’t see more!), and generally being out and about for the entirety of Saturday.

To compensate, I did take a brief nap after lunch on Saturday. I opted to go back to the hotel relatively early each night rather than staying out late with friends. Sunday morning I chose to miss Morning News so that I could get an extra hour of sleep. After the event wrapped up Sunday afternoon I returned to the hotel for a longer nap, rather than enjoying New York with fellow campers or with family. Despite all of these measures, I can tell I have pushed my body a bit hard: dark circles under the eyes, lots of yawns, and the sense that I might be on the edge of catching a cold or something.

I do worry on one hand that I might be pushing myself a little harder than I ought to right now—especially given that I am flying out again in two more days to the Agile & Beyond conference in Michigan. On the other hand and on the bright side: if I come through it feeling okay, this may tell me I am ready to ramp up my work re-engagement a little faster than I thought. At least after recovering from this week. We’ll see how things go.

After I land in Minneapolis this afternoon, I head straight to the oncology clinic for another arsenic infusion.


Cross-posted to Facebook: