So, since so many of you were clamoring for an update on Kearsie Healthwatch 2011, I thought I'd jot down a quick bloggyblog. Ok, so there was only really one of you clamoring, but I aim to please. So.
Chemo has begun. I'm having my "good" week. Which basically means that this week, all my side effects go away and I feel normal for just long enough to forget how lousy chemo is before I have to start the vicious cycle all over again. I know. It's kind of like menstruation.
Chemo is absolutely, 100% no fun. I've only had one cycle thus far. My next will be the 23rd.
Here's a quick rundown on what I went through whilst doing chemo:
*I am strapped up to the IV. Two different nurses have to tackle this because apparently I have super strong veins that don't like to be pierced and as a result of their poking, I still have a bruise. But that's ok because the other option is to get a port. Poke away, nurses. Bruises fade.
*I don't have allergic reaction to the two different chemo drugs selected for my torture: Taxotere and Cytoxan. But they go super slow at first, watching to see if I turn bright red or quit breathing. This means that I sat with an IV for four hours. No, I'm really not exaggerating. I am glad I brought a book.
*My mouth tastes funny. I try chewing gum and sucking on Jolly Ranchers but no dice. Yep, this is my first side effect- my taste buds rebel against me. This I will have to endure for 1 and 1/2 weeks.
*I am super tired. Enter second side effect- extreme fatigue. I go home and sleep the rest of the day. And then half of the next day. I will feel tired for many days.
*Nausea. Because my name is Kearsie and this is how I roll. Lots of nausea. No vomiting, but many days of popping any and all nausea meds given to me in hopes that the stomach roiling goes away. I will endure this for a week. But I expected this, so I am not surprised.
*FIERCE HEADACHE. It feels like ice picks are being driven through my temples. No pain reliever completely takes it away, but thankfully, the headache fades around day 5 following chemo. I am tough, I can take this, oh man thiskillswhereisthetylenol.....
*Hunger despite no taste. Because of the steroids, I am starving. I am nauseas, and have no taste buds, but I want to eat everything in sight. Because of this, I gain 5 pounds. I was told this could happen. So therefore, I let myself eat ice cream straight from the carton. The streroids are to keep me from getting a nasty rash on my arms and face.
*I break out all over my face. It's not the rash. It's just the regular hormones coursing through my body doing their monthly thing, only I seem to be super sensitive and respond by getting fierce acne. Nice. I feel 15 again.
*Joint pain, specifically in my lower back and pelvis. This is because the day after chemo, I get a shot to boost my white blood cell count and it manifests the pain where the most bone marrow is. I no longer feel 15, instead I feel 85.
And then, by around day 6, I feel better. Not great, but better. Soon, the nausea and headache and joint pain become a faded memory, and I do things like put on make up again, and clean my bathroom. I even begin to cook again. My face no longer holds my "I feel sick to my stomach" expression and I start walking upright again, not clutching my lower back whilst hobbling around the house.
I feel normal again.
Normal is very nice.
I'm very pleased that my phase of normal fell in the month coinciding with my two girls returning to school. Today was their first day. I still have my hair. I did not stand out amongst the eighty bazillion other mothers there at school today dropping off their kids, meeting their teachers. I feel very proud of my ability to blend in.
I will lose my hair this week. It takes somewhere between 10-21 days to lose your hair following chemo. And both of the medicines I have to take have hair loss as a side effect. So I bought a hat. No wig, because I've yet to find a place that my insurance pays for. But it's hot outside, so maybe I won't want a wig anyway.
I also had a big talk with my girls, explaining to them that some kids might ask them questions why I am bald, or even make fun of me. I tried to help them know what to think and say. Here's hoping that was just a precautionary measure that won't be needed.
I was also very pleased that Emma's teacher is a two year cancer survivor, that she understands what our family is going through and will be a source of help for Emma, should she need it.
Survivors? Are everywhere. This is pretty cool.
So there you have it. I'll be doing this chemo biz until mid October and then I'm done. My IV bruises will fade. My hair and nails will go back to growing normally. I'll drink copious amounts of water to flush my kidneys. I'll be ok.
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