So just a couple of days after my Chemo 3 update (Aug 20), shit hit the fan. Not BIG shit. This is not a boo-hoo from me. But I think I have discovered one hard and fast rule about chemo: never get smug about feeling better than you think you should.
The Chemo 3 pain in the butt came out of left field. I am 35 years old-- just turned-- and my upper wisdom teeth decided to make their debut at precisely this moment. Mouth sores, as you know, are common chemo side effects, and the chemo slows the rate of regeneration of cells in places where cells regenerate frequently (hair, lining of digestive tract, mouth). So when my upper left wisdom tooth poked through, it lifted off a big ol' dangly piece of skin that proceded to swell and hurt and then stabbed right into my inner cheek creating an ulcer.
A visit to the dentist ensued. Bless the dentist's heart, his technician walked me straight over to a neighboring oral surgeon. We discussed extraction. I looked him right in the eye and told him I would do anything, ANY. THING. to avoid yanking this puppy when I was going through chemo. Even best case scenario, the oral surgeon was only willing to yank it on the MORNING OF MY NEXT CHEMO (Friday, Sept 5). That would have left me recovering from wisdom tooth yanking and chemo all by my lonesome this weekend. Unacceptable. I made big huge puppy dog eyes at him. (Easier now that my saucer eyes are so much more visible-- oh, and by the way, my big ol saucer eyes may be a sign that I have thyroid disease. More on that later.)
Oral surgeon dabbed this magic medicine on my ulcer and my dangly gum and then told me to go to a compounding pharmacy and get some. It's called Benzoin Compound Tincture, and it's very hard to find. But it is very, very good stuff. My buffet of oral hygeine keeps expanding.
The Benzoin worked enough to keep me from being too miserable, although I spent the bulk of the remainder of Chemo three with a the left side of my face feeling swollen and throbbing. And by the time the days before Chemo 4 arrived, the ulcer had healed and the dangly bit had lost its swelling and there was no way I was letting anyone near my wisdom tooth.
But Chemo 3 ended up kind of blech above and beyond the oral issues. I had any number of days of feeling draggy and tired. These would be the "cumulative effects" I have heard so much about. I've been going to school daily for a couple hours a day, and one day I had to take to the teacher's lounge couch because I was pretty sure I was going to either pass out or puke. (I did neither, but it was a close call).
So, the verdict for Chemo 3-- it was the best one (so far) insofar as return to normalcy is concerned. I was back on my feet faster than any of the previous times. But it was probably the worst when it comes to longer-term recovery. I feel like I slide pretty far back around halfway through the three week cycle. I can't believe all I was able to do in the first week and how inconsistent these cycles have been.