Running on Empty – Energy Levels


I’ve always worked with to-do lists.  I find great satisfaction in ticking off items and conquering the day.  I still do it except at a whole new level.

Before (Healthy me)

12 items on the list?  No biggie.  Need to get to the store too at some point?  No problem.  It’s merely a matter of when to squeeze it in.  Time management 101.

By the time the evening rolls in and I’ve cooked and eaten, I might be bushed or at least wondering when they’ll create more hours in the day.

After a good night’s sleep, I’m ready to do it all over again.

Now (Toxic me)

4 items on the list and an extra errand to run?  Hmm, what can I bump down onto tomorrow’s list?

By the time the afternoon hits me, I feel as though I’ve run a marathon.  If I don’t already need a power nap, I’m anticipating a imminent exit from the day.

Thank goodness for leftovers because the ounce of creativity that meal preparation requires left with the setting sun.  No leftovers?  ProNutro will do for today.

Early to bed and after a good night’s sleep, I’m not particularly motivated to do it all over.

Someone stole my mojo and I want it back

For the sake of clarity, let’s assume the average healthy person’s energy capacity is 10.  They may finish a busy day at a level 1 and collapse into a well-deserved rest.  By morning, that level is restored to a 9 or 10.

At some point during chemo’s cytotoxic warfare, my starting block capacity became 5.  It’s a short way down to a 2 and after a night’s recovery, it may only bounce back up to a 4.

Pacing the race

Conservation is the key.  For me, a naturally buoyant person, this has translated into a personality adjustment because even happy energy is tiring.  Generally, I’m more serious and that’s not so much fun.

Before I reach a level of 1 and risk a very real threat of non-recovery, I slow down to last the day, stop at a level 3, and relax until it’s time to turn in for the night.  The alternative is burnout, non-recovery, susceptibility to contracting any infectious germs lurking about, and being incapable (measured by blood counts) of tolerating chemo which results in a delay and extended period of treatment.

For the moment, my capacity is shallow and I’m running on what would normally be reserves.  So excuse me if I don’t carry that box myself or run to answer the phone or jump to help wash the dishes.


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