Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Day 67 of 100 Days of Good Karma.
My friend Tamela accompanied me to my seventh chemotherapy treatment.
For battle gear I wore my Keep Calm and Battle On t-shirt and some new earrings from my mother-in-law, Debbie.
I’ve been experiencing a few side effects from chemotherapy.
There’s the hair loss, of course. That is ongoing. I have some left but the bald patches are growing.
In addition to the hair loss I’ve been experiencing mild neuropathy. This is nerve damage caused by the chemotherapy drugs.
The tip of my right big toe feels numb a lot of the time and sometimes I get a tingling sensation in my left pinky.
From what I understand this could be much worse. Neuropathy can be very painful and some people have to stop chemotherapy because their neuropathy is so severe.
Also, I’ve found that running and staying active helps alleviate the tingly feeling for a time. I don’t know if there’s any science behind the claim, but it seems to work for me.
I’ve also been experiencing symptoms of early menopause. Namely, hot flashes. This is common with chemotherapy drugs.
Hot flashes are a strange feeling. It’s like a sudden and unpredictable personal summer.
All of a sudden the room will feel a little uncomfortable. Then a creeping warmth will spread up my neck over my face and across my head. Since I don’t have much hair left I can feel my scalp break out in a sweat. Then I run for the nearest fan until it passes.
In a Texas September this can be a little inconvenient, but I expect the hot flashes will come in handy in the winter.
My seventh chemotherapy infusion took longer than any of the others.
Partway through the infusion I had some kind of reaction.
One moment I was talking to Tamela and the next I was dizzy and completely drained of energy. I could have leaned back in the chair and gone to sleep in mid sentence.
Tamela told me later I got very glassy eyed.
“You looked high,” she said.
Believe me, it was nowhere near that fun.
I hesitated to tell the nurses how I felt because I didn’t want them to not do chemotherapy.
I know that’s stupid, but I want this cancer to go away. The more I delay chemotherapy the longer cancer gets to stay inside me.
Tamela talked some sense into me and then grabbed a nurse.
Just as I had feared the nurses turned off the chemotherapy drugs and turned on a saline drip. The dizziness passed and I felt totally normal again.
I was happy when a few minutes later when they switched back to the chemotherapy drugs. They slowed the drip down to half speed so the infusion took a lot longer to finish.
Today’s silver lining: I finished my seventh infusion.
Whether this was a reaction to the chemotherapy drugs (Paclitaxel, in this case), or the steroid (Dexamethasone), or just an ill-timed hot flash (this was my nurse’s prime suspect) having a reaction like that scared me.
Cancer treatment is serious business. There’s a biohazard marker on the chemotherapy bags for a reason.
But it beats the hell out of the alternative.
What’s your silver lining today? I love comments!