Side Effects – oh fun

So I beat cancer. I kicked it’s butt and survived. I get to see my baby grow up, get to live and enjoy life. But wait a minute, what’s that… side effects from chemo??? No, not going to happen to me, I’ll be fine. Menopause early? Yeah I can deal with that. Yeah, Menopause started at 28 for me. I knew that I was going to go through it early, but I figured, well typically women go through it in their late 40’s or 50’s, so I’ll go through it in my late 30’s. I was wrong.

Started with little things, like a hot flash here, a night sweat there. Then my monthly visits from my “friend” came further and further apart. (Why anyone would every call menstruation a friend is beyond me, it was horrible). Then one day it was like WHAM, a switch flipped. I went from fine to mega bitch in 0.23 seconds. The mood swings were crazy.

Ok, time line check, this was my late 20’s, heading towards my early 30’s and Tiffany was right around 10-11  age range. I love my daughter with all of my heart, but she is a drama queen. Now she admits it openly. Back then she was just getting her drama on, in a big way. I might also add here that I was a single parent at this point too, working full time to support us.

So I was in full blown menopause and Tiff was in pre-teen bitchy phase, I’d come home from work at night and I would do my best on the bad days to just stay away (well as away as you can get in a small 2 bedroom apartment) from her, I knew if I interacted with her too much, I’d jump down her throat and no matter what she did, she really didn’t deserve my “pause rage.”  Do you think that she’d sense that I was staying away or hidden for a reason, no, of course not. She would do her best to push all my buttons.

How we both survived that time without people banging on our apartment door from our screaming matches, I still will never know.  But we did make it through, and I have to say that post menopause is a wonderful thing. I still run on the warm side, before, I was always cold, now I’m usually always warm. I still have an occasional night sweat. But thankfully, I no longer have the dreaded mood swings and Tiff had survived to the end of her teen years.

Unfortunately, I have to say that early menopause was not the only side effect that I ended up with. I am also prone to blood clots. Back in 2002 I landed my butt in the hospital with a pulmonary embolism( blood clot in the lung). They caught it early but I did end up having to take blood thinners for the next year and have week visits to my friends the vampires (or lab techs) for blood to be drawn.

I wish that I could say that the side effects stopped there, but they didn’t. A couple of years later, at Thanksgiving time, I started having trouble breathing. I actually let it go on longer than I should have. I let it go one for about a week. I actually had a doctor’s appointment to be looked at, but Tiff had gotten sick and there were no openings for her to be seen (we go to the same GP), so good mom that I am, I gave up my appointment for her to be seen. That was the day before Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving, I got up and I was getting pains in my chest. At this point I know my butt is going into the hospital for more than just a day or 2. I call my brother to come get me (great brother that he is), I take a long hot shower while I wait for him (I know it will be my last shower for a couple of days, I want to be clean) and into the ER I go.

Between the chemo ravaging my body to kill the cancer and the tumor trying to strangle my heart and lungs, it left scar tissue on y heart and weakened it. My heart had become enlarged and the sack around it was filled with fluid. My heart was drowning. So they keep me in the hospital, put me on 3 different meds, 2 to bring my already low blood pressure down even lower so that my heart doesn’t have to beat as hard and 1 to help rid my body of fluids.

I have Congestive Heart Failure, I take 3 meds a day and I had to maintain a very low sodium diet. That was what my wonderful cardiologist informed me (which by the way, he is wonderful, down to earth, just overall awesome). So I got a week in the hospital, I needed a vacation from work anyways, right?

All things considered, I wasn’t supposed to make it past 19. The grim reaper was knocking on my door hard and was turned away (I think my mom scared him away actually), so I’ve had side effects. I’m still here, I still get to spend time with my loved ones. I get to spend time with my friends, both old ones and my new ones. So I don’t regret any of my experiences, they have made me the strong, independent woman that I am today.

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