Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chemo 1 recap

I was too bloody miserable post chemo #1 to really keep a good eye cast on my symptoms, even though it had been my intention to log each one. But as I mentioned before, post-chemo #1 was complicated by disastrous side-effects from my painkillers. It's very, very hard to say where chemo kickback ended and painkiller evilness began.

But here's a list of stuff that I suffered through and realizations that I had during the three week cycle with chemo 1.
  • Constipation/Diarrhea Cycle of Horror (with an occasional visit from Puke Evil): This was my biggest problem and the one most hard to determine whether it was primarily chemo or primarily painkillers. This began on around Day 3 where I was backed up and had been since before Chemo. Then I began to have intestinal cramps like you would have if you were going to have diarrhea, but there was no exit room for said poo. (The levees of my constipation held back the flood of the liquid crap). Despite taking the maximum dose of Senna daily and eventual Milk of Mag, I finally called the doctor in misery after hours on Saturday and was told to try the Magnesium Citrate. Unfortunately we only had the cherry flavor. After two doses of that, all hell broke lose in my body and I was pooing and puking, often simultaneously (thank goodness my tub is within barfing distance of my toilet. I'm sorry for the horrible imagery) for the better part of 14 hours. The situation finally resolved mostly somewhere in the neighborhood of the first Sunday.
  • Regular bouts of diarrhea plagued me for most of Week 1 and kept me largely housebound because the bouts would come out of nowhere and be unmanageable. One afternoon midWeek1 I went to a coffee shop and had to come home in total panic because I just couldn't stop pooing.
  • Hair loss: Head hair started going on Saturday, so we shaved it immediately. I may have jumped the gun a bit, as most of it is stubbly growing back. But, as untraumatized as I was about being bald, LOSING the hair made me sick to my stomach, so I would rather jump the gun than be constantly sick. Then of course, there was the Week 2 losing of my lady hair. I shaved the rest of that off pronto.
  • Mouth sores: bothered me Week 1 and Week 3. A friend of mine whose husband is an orthodontist prescribed "Magic Mouthwash" that is a compound of pain killers and anti fungal stuff and all kinds of mouth health goodness. It helps. Big time.
  • Weight Loss and Lack of Appetite: Week 1, especially Days 2-5, food did not sound good to me at all. It wasn't til Day 4 (I consider Chemo Day, day 1) that I finally said F*** it, and just started eating any ol' thing that appealed to me (as opposed to the veggies, protein, etc that I should have been eating). And frankly, I discovered that when the eating cards are down and you just can't stomach the good-for-you solutions, those foods that were comfort foods to you before chemo will often be comfort foods to you after chemo. I got most of my calories during Week 2 from spaghetti with Ragu and chicken ramen noodles with frozen broccoli. I just couldn't stomach yogurts and salads and healthy options. I went from 118 to 115 to 117 during the three weeks.
  • Wacko Sleep Schedules: I've been staying up til 3 or so every night. Some of it is that I no longer associate sleep with comfort because of the difficulties associated with having my implant spacers. Some is the drugs.
  • Acne: First couple of days, I had some nasty acne on my chin. I've always had bad skin, but this seemed quite obviously tied to the chemo and disappeared after Week 1.
  • Exhaustion and general blahs: Emotions up and down. Lethargy which is no doubt tied to depression. Walking to the local movie theater and back kind of winds me.

That's all I can think of now. Hopefully, as I said, I will have a much better sense of things after this next cycle.

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