I’m glad I belong to the Macmillan Cancer online support group. I knew what I was experiencing were the cumulative side effects of six rounds of chemo but it was nice to read messages from other people who went through the same thing.
My most pronounced side effect right now has to do with changing position. Standing up is an adventure––my ears begin to ring. When I start to walk, the ringing gets louder and my balance becomes uncertain. It’s not true dizziness––more like I’m on the threshold of being dizzy. I’m about to be dizzy. Then the ringing drowns everything out. Sounds are far away, with a tanky quality, as if I’m in a large metal container, or maybe how things sound if you were all by yourself in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
If it’s intense enough, I sit down on the stairs. I never feel like I’m going to fall down exactly but I don’t feel secure standing up, even though my body says it’s quite stable. I can’t sit there for long, however; I got up because I had to, and I have to keep going. Getting up again makes my ears ring even louder.
Then the hissing starts, like water running or gas escaping; always in my right ear. The hissing means the episode is about to start winding down and I just have to wait. At this point in a typical day, I am usually in the loo and Gentleman Jynx, coolest black cat in London, is sitting in front of me with an alert expression on his cool kitty face.
Business taken care of, I head back to the living room, which sets off my ears again. I make my way to the living room with the Gent in the lead. I pause in the doorway of the living room to steady myself before going the last few feet to the sofa and collapsing. Once the Gent is sure I’m settled, he’ll climb onto my lap, either to resume resting on his special lap pillow or he’ll move over to his favourite non-lap pillow near my feet.
There is no exercise with free weights right now––squats would probably make my inner ear explode. All the little inner-ear hairs are gone so my proprioception is off. At least, I think it’s my proprioception.
The sensation that comes with the ears ringing is so weird. If you can imagine the intensity of a long drop on a roller coaster, but without the sensation of falling––only the intensity of it.
But it’s all good. I’m impatient to bounce back, to get active again but I can deal. It’s not nausea; it’s not painful. At worst, it’s inconvenient, and that won’t kill me.