Ah! Here we are at the end of my second chemo vacay, and I confess that I’m not looking forward to Tuesday.
This week has been delightful. Coming into it, I had no constipation issues to recover from, giving me a couple of extra days of “no symptoms.” I start to get tired towards late afternoon, but I have decent energy reserves in the morning and after lunch. My hair loss continues — and I continue to be annoyed that it’s the hair on top of my head that’s falling out and not the postmenopausal hair above my lip.
With two cycles of Gemma Chemo treatments out of the way, I can make observations on my quality of life during chemo. Chemo Week starts on a Tuesday, and I wake up feeling mostly ready for the battle. Wednesday, I’m under the influence of the steroids I got in my Chemo Cocktail on Tuesday. If I have anything that requires physical labor, this is the day to get it done. Midway through Thursday the steroids start to wear off and by dinnertime I’m yawning. Friday seems to be my crash and burn day — I feel “blah” with very little energy. Saturday and Sunday get better and by Monday I start to feel like there’s more to life then snoozing on the recliner. Repeat for two more weeks and then it’s vacation time.
Regarding bowel movements (because you know I can’t do a blog post without mentioning poop), I’ve found that if I’m proactive by drinking my Phillips at bedtime on Tuesday, then Wednesday is not so “hard” (get it?) to manage. I’ve also found that I do better if at least one of my meals (usually dinner) is a large salad (for fiber content). I’m still fine-tuning the dosage amounts for the Phillips and the stool softeners. Yeah, I know it’s gross. But who else is going to tell you the truth about this if not me?
Nearly every day, by mid afternoon, I get a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t know how to describe it. I understand that some chemo therapies give the patient a metallic taste — but that’s not what I get. It’s just something nasty on the back of my tongue, at my jaw. Brushing my teeth helps, but it’s not a cure. Eating lots of Altoids helps — but then anything I consume afterwards has a peppermint flavor. I’m deducing that it has to do with my digestion — since it’s not there first thing in the morning, appearing after I’ve had a couple of meals — and I’m hoping that it’s due to the chemo and not due to the parts of my digestive system that were removed back in February. I guess I’ll find out in September when I’m done with chemo.
I have trouble sleeping during my chemo weeks. I wake up two or three times during the night (which adds to my feeling of exhaustion). These last few days of chemo vacation, I’ve slept right through to 6:30 AM. I’ll be going into Chemo Cycle 3 feeling somewhat rested, as if I really did take a vacation from work.
I had a red rash on my hips around the third week of Chemo Cycle 1, and ended up with a red rash on my left leg around the third week of Chemo Cycle 2. The Oncologist has classified both of these as allergic reactions (but not an allergy to Gemma Chemo). After nearly a week of vacation, the Red Rash Scrounge is nearly all gone, though my left ankle and foot are still a bit swollen. I’m a little anxious to see what kind of rash develops during Cycle 3. And where it will be located.
I’ve started wearing compression stockings, after two of my doctors made the recommendation. So now, when I go out of the house, I have on my compression stockings, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a wide-brimmed hat. I’m dressing like an old lady to protect my skin from the sun. And because I’m always a little tired, I tend to walk slower than my usual fast gait. This is something I need to address, because I don’t feel like an old lady. I’m going to experiment with turning my slower gait into a cougar-like slink.
In spite of all this sh*t, I find I’m smiling more. There is nothing wonderful about chemo, but there is something wonderful about being forced to slow down. My flower beds look beautiful. I have a lovely camping cot on the patio where I take naps in the afternoon. I’m spending time with my friends. I’m having a great time just relaxing and going with the flow. I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to simply enjoy living in the moment.
Yep. Something good coming out of something bad.