Side Effects and Gratitude

This is one of those mornings where I’m up so early my night-owl soul is dying inside. I barely got a wink of sleep. My legs hurt all night and my girlfriend’s cat decided to appear and disappear in 1 hour intervals starting at midnight. Guess who he wanted to cuddle with?

My legs have been doing this sort of thing off and on since I went through chemotherapy, and I’m starting to wonder if it’s a permanent side effect of any of the medications I took then. Of course, it could be stress. God knows I have enough of that right now to tense every muscle fiber in my body enough to kill a moose – like a weird graduate student boa constrictor.

But there have been so many other side effects since my treatment that I can’t help but wonder. Shitty sleep, terrible concentration and attention span, painful or restless legs, not to mention the eating and GI issues. It’s all stuff I never dealt with before chemo. It could be a whole lot of other things, but it just seems to all coincide, you know? And it makes life just that little bit more frustrating. Like death by a thousand cuts.

Sometimes I get resentful of the side effects of past and present medications or treatments that keep me alive. It can feel like I’m trading one problem for another, albeit smaller, issue. Beta blockers to prevent tachycardia and atrial flutter, but side effects are an increased risk of clotting and stroke. I’m on blood thinners to reduce that risk, but then those come with being bruised insanely easy and risk of internal bleeding and ulcer. Depression medication comes with a risk of increased suicidality (what the FUCK is up with that??).

Yeah, yeah. I acknowledge that these medications improve my quality of life overall. But still. I’m entitled to bitch just a little bit. But just a little. And then, I suppose, I should practice some mindfulness and gratitude.

My legs hurt. But I have a warm bed and access to a hot shower, heating pads, and any other modern technology to ease that pain. (And a hot girlfriend that’s willing to rub my legs. Wink.) Okay, I have these shitty side effects. But they’ve allowed me to live long enough to finally begin to live my dream of being a counselor. Even though I’ve been through so much, I’m finally at a place where I can help others deal with the shit that life deals them.

Yeah, I’m up ridiculously freaking early. But in a few hours I’ll take a shower, get dressed, and go to internship. Then I get to come home and spend time with my lovely girlfriend, because I’m at a place in my life where I can finally say all these things and feel the happiness radiating from me when I say it. And that is a place where I’m so, so grateful to be.

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