• Nathira Salim

What to do during Resting?

Welcome back to my blog where I blog everything about my journey from discovery to recovery yet again!

Anyway, in my last blog piece I talked abit about fatigue being the most obvious side effect during my 2nd chemo cycle. Now, what do you think we should be doing as people with cancer during this resting phase? Now now - ideas about dancing and pole dancing will be thrown out of my window without even blinking cos that's never going to happen with me. Even my remaining breast will not jingle during this phase.

I realised I may have failed to define what I mean by "Resting Phase".

In my experience with a monthly chemo cycle, the week after the chemo has taken place , which is estimated seven to eight days is the Resting Phase. The immediate side effects such as fatigue, nausea, body pain, stomach pain will take place and by seventh or eighth day, it subsides. So during this phase, I do Resting. Just as the name suggests, I let the body recover. I do not leave the house during this phase to protect my weakened immunity. And with the Covid shit happening, I rather stay at home.

The second week I consider Recovery phase. This is where I will be able to go back to doing what I can do such as writing, proofreading, online shopping, reading and walking. This is also when I am able to eat more food. I am able to leave the house and go out for shopping and all but on a limited pace and time. I am in a sense recovering from the resting phase.

The third week is my Pump Up Immunity phase. In this phase, I would be taking my multi vitamins, adding in more vegetable with fibre into my food, more good carbs that would give me more strength and drink lots of juices with beets and spinach. Week four will be the chemo week.

The following lists out what I have done during the Resting phase for the past two chemo sessions:

  1. Lie down. A lot.

I think people with terminal disease under estimate the value of lying down to rest. I do admit its boring, but with the lack of energy, the only thing I was able to do was contribute my weight on the living room couch - daily without fail. I would lie down as and when I can. I wish my house has a ceiling to floor windows that look out like all the new apartments do nowadays, but the only windows my living room has is on the balcony - so I am not going to lie down there. I lie down on the couch, on the bed in my guest room during the day time so that I can rest.

2. Give the eyes a break

When I lie down I usually have my phone with me and I am watching a lot of stuffs. I would start with Instagram and end it with Pinterest just to check out and have inspirations for my blog and my journals to do later when I have gained back my energy. But its also energy draining I realised. So take maybe 30 mins to check out something on the phone and then rest the eyes when lying down. Get a good 30-40 mins nap if possible. In my case, I will find sleep again after I am wide awake anyways. Any shut eye is good for me. My body rests.

3. Sleep when you feel it.

It's as mentioned in number 2. When the eyes are tired, just close them and let go. I feel better when I let the fatigue wave come over me and sweep me away in my sleep. I sleep quite like a baby. There is no need to follow any set of timing. If you feel like sleeping, just go and sleep.

4. Massage.

I like my feet massaged. I am a Pieces and by nature my feet is the most un deserved of much love from me. Whenever my mum is at home, and I'm lying down on the couch, she will sit at the feet end of the couch, place my feet on her laps and will just massage it. I don't need any particular Thai or Shiatsu style massage. Her hands on my feet will make me feel nice and comfy. Being a breast cancer patient, I don't think I can go for a full body massage since the cancer cells can leave from the source and travel down along with the blood flow to the rest of the body. So I think feet is ok.

5. Eat lots of fruits.

Granted, but I steer clear of fruits that gives me gas. I have found out that honey dew that is white in colour gives me horrible gas. Apart from that, I usually have a plate of the following fruits:

a) Apples - red or green

b) Pears

c) Watermelon

d) Papaya

e) Kiwi

f) Guavas

g) Blue and black berries

Oranges, strawberries, bananas and pineapples are missing from my list because they cause inflammation in my body which I found out after running a food allergy test a month ago. I will add them maybe a month later and monitor. So fruits - I have a plate of it after my breakfast, an hour after lunch, and hour before dinner. They hydrate as well as move my bowels and clear my gut. I think fruits are very important during the resting phase.

6. Water

This should go without saying actually. Water is very very important for the resting as well as recovery phase. Without it, I feel everything in and out of me is dry. My skin gets ultra dry, my tongue gets dry and even I feel dried up inside during the chemo and afterwards. I will have a large Starbucks tumbler filled with warm water, lemon and ginger slices and I bring it along wherever I move in the house. If I forget it, my helper will locate it and bring it to me. I cannot drink plain old water - my tongue's giving me some issues with the taste. So the flavourings help. The day after my chemo - I drink black tea with a little sugar and then my lemon and ginger water throughout the day. This goes on for a week. Week 2 I will change my black tea to green tea with lemon and have it twice a day and this goes on till the next chemo.

Drinking fruits juice also falls into this section. My body is definitely not up for fruit juices this soon after the chemo so I would not have it. But for the rest if their body is up for it, they can also drink fruits juices or smoothies to help them hydrate

7. Listen - audiobooks

The next few sections will require listening skills. You may skip if you do not have those.

I love reading. But I also discovered that reading unfortunately drains my energy. So during the times when insomnia hits me, I turn to audio books to make me sleep. During my resting phase, when my eyes are resting and I still have some time to sleep, I will listen to a chapter or two of a book I just borrowed. This doesnt require any energy usage and I like it. The National Library Board application has an audio book function which requires downloading another app called Libby. I usually browse some books in Libby, borrow them, and start listening to it. Once I'm done, I will click on 'Return' and off it goes back to the library shelf, virtually. Did I say its free? Its free.

8. Listen - calming music

I love to listen to really calming music during my recovery time. And know what? BTS just released their BE album and the 'Life Goes On' song, has such a healing vibe, I felt really good listening to it. I identified this song as my go to healing song. You may have a playlist of such songs. Gather them and listen to it. Nothing that makes you shake your head or anything. Something that makes you feel good is what we are looking at.

9. Listen - sleep or healing meditation

I actually cannot vouch for this but I do listen to this when I can. When I'm recovering, I check out the You Tube for meditation videos. What happens is that there would be a calming music at the background and some guy or girl with a nice soothing voice will give out some set of instructions to follow. What this does is enable one to fall into relaxation and help with the healing process. I have tried the sleep meditation - but I get ads in between because I did not pay for the ad free YT. But I have not managed to get a deep sleep experience with this yet. So I cannot vouch for it. Anyone else who have tried maybe can get a better idea.

10. Meditate

Instead of maybe lying down and listening to meditation videos, you can try to meditate while sitting only if you are able to. Many a times I find myself sitting and doing nothing but stilling my mind for a while. But truth be told, I cannot meditate during the first week of recovery - I can somehow handle it after maybe in my 3rd week or so when the fatigue has gone out. This is reserved for Week 3 and 4.

11 . Walk

I tried this on the 3rd day of my chemo. I was so weak by the time I came back home I thought I was having a heart failure. My heart was beating so fast. I didn't even walk that much. It was a small route and something that would take me 10 mins to complete. I had walked slow, but my heart kept running up to 90 bpm I had to stop the walk and get back home. So for starters, I suggest walking at home. I would walk from the kitchen to the living room, and then to the other rooms for a while before I take a seat somewhere.

Week 2 onwards, movement is necessary. So walking out should start. For people whose house is not that big a walk, just walk at the void deck - cover your block and get back home.

12. Videos

I watched a lot of videos during my lying down time. A lot. I was interested in entrepreneurship videos, bujo videos and I would watch videos of young girls who make their own stickers and sell them on their Etsy shop. I am always in awe of those who can sell something from scratch. Really.

As mentioned in point 2 - watch it a while and then give the eyes a break.

As much as I want though, I cannot watch anything that would make me study like get back to my Korean studies or learn how to do something videos. During the first week of chemo - its all about relaxing. By relaxing I mean totally letting go. This is a tough concept to grasp for some. But really - by letting our body relax, we are helping it to repair and get back in shape faster. I have a lot more chemo sessions to go through. For that to happen, my blood count should be high enough. If I am still weak, it means my red blood count is low. So I should eat food that will give me more energy such as veggies and fruit and chill out. By respecting the natural order of resting, we enable the body to build up immunity and help the chemo to kill the cancer cells and recover.

I am aware that some people actually go to work during chemo- these people are warriors and I have the most deepest respect for them. Some have no choice, I get it. But as and when possible, we must allow rest to happen. What is the point of going through so much side effects every god damned day if we don't want to survive this? We are going through this to get rid of the cancer cells. We are willing to pump our entire body with toxic poison to get rid of some fucking cancer cells so that we can live for ourselves, and for our family who depend on us. So I think - the most we can do is to respect the body and rest.

Drop me an email if you think of any other ways to rest and recover.

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