Into the Belly of the Whale

This morning I felt my body-mind emerge from a long rest and recovery. Since exactly a week ago, I have been a fragment of myself physically and mentally. Barely able to practice any yoga, hardly able to write anything, unable to respond to messages, and mentally I was in a deep chemo fog. I had several situations with people this week where they swear I did or said something or referred to a past conversation that I simply have no awareness of! If this happens to you, please forgive me, and remind me with a sense of humor that I may have completely blacked out on a conversation or message that you sent me!

In my better moments, I meditate or tackle a rather heady Ken Wilber book called that Religion of Tomorrow that at least reminds me that I can do something besides watch YouTube and sleep.

Video Credit (Allie – Titled: “The moment you turn into your Dad”)

My bloodwork hit an all-time low last week, with my white blood cells and platelets near 0 and my red blood cells in the very low territory. In the early cycles, the effects of this would last 2-3 days, but in the last two cycles, I’ve had a week to deal with the strong after-effects. There is odd conjunction of energies happening in my physical body – the immunotherapy and chemotherapy drugs continue their work on destroying fast-dividing cells in my body (cancer cells, blood cells, hair cells, gut cells), while the G-CSF Neulasta injection works hardily in the opposite direction stimulating my bone marrow to blood cells. This is an odd battle to experience in one’s own body. The best place to perform this observation is on the sofa with Netflix or YouTube as support, trust me.

For years now I’ve been measuring my HRV (Heart Rate Variability) to observe changes in my health. HRV is different than your heart rate – when you attempt to feel your heart rate it should appear rather steady, approximately a beat a second based on your current health and activity. However, there are minute changes in length between each beat (for example 1.01 seconds, .99 seconds, .98 seconds, 1.00 seconds, etc). Higher variability is an indicator of greater health and an ability to recover from illness or intense training more quickly. HRV research has been dominated by high-performance athletes who are looking to squeeze out extra seconds on their performances, however, it is also being used by holistic healthcare practitioners such as yours truly to help monitor my body’s nervous system. I track things like sleep, eating, alcohol, stress, and sex, and then through a daily morning reading I have a sense if my nervous system is tilted in more sympathetic(fight or flight) parasympathetic (rest and relax) direction. Swings or tilts in either direction are often indicators of stress or illness. If monitored closely, it can predict an illness 24-36 hours in advance and give me some time to prepare by resting and supplementing as appropriate. Specifically, with this Neulasta shot, I see a massive drop in my HRV to around 40-45 (when my baseline is 60), which indicates a sever sympathetic (stressful) situation for the body.

Rather than go on here, I will write another article about HRV numbers and suggested apps and devices to use if this is something you want to get into. This is all a long-winded way to say that today my HB ‘popped’ back up into the mid 50s and it was accompanied by a much better sense of well-being and energy. Let’s hope it lasts!

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