Sunday, September 9, 2012

The worst things about chemo

Guess I'm feeling a little grouchy  & a touch sarcastic today. I'm entitled right?  It's hard to know you're done but still feel like a bag of chemotherapy!  So I thought maybe I'd tell you some of the worst things about chemo, lest anyone ever tell you "it's not that bad"...  Hah.

  • My favorite - gaining weight. Seriously?  Sometimes a week without eating & still possible to gain weight?  Seems like a cruel joke that only people who are already struggling to maintain a scrawny 125 lbs actually LOSE weight on chemotherapy drugs.  Those of us who fight like hell to maintain our weight can easily gain 40 pounds in 9 months.  Shoot, I gained less when I was pregnant!
  • The crazy rabid 4 eyed 8 legged monster that lives in my abdomen. Boy do the drugs make him mad so that he claws & contorts to try to escape from my body leaving breathtaking stomach cramps & profuse sweating as his calling cards. Im not sure he really wants to escape because he sure seems to enjoy torturing me after every chemo round!  I hope they can put him out of his misery now that I'm done getting drugs. 
  • My ziplock Baggie of medicines. Like a toddlers security blanket i never venture anywhere without them. I will admit I've always had a hybrid cvs-Mary poppins purse with plenty of tonics & elixirs but the ziplock Baggie takes it to a new level. I have pain meds, nausea meds, steroids, stomach meds, numbing cream for my port.  Watch out I have pills and I know how to use them!
  • Oh the port, a love hate affair. Such cool technology for sure mostly because it makes drugs, fluids& blood go faster. But getting it accessed is like being punched in the chest. It's literally, for my west point peeps, blood wings every time. Sit you back against the lab chair, get all sterile so as to distract you, then whammy! a 3/4" needle slams into your chest.   Oh and the wires that crawl under your skin from the port feel like alien tentacles. Yep I do know what those are in case you're wondering...  And I can't even write about saline flushes without nearly vomiting. 
  • Shortness of breath. This is a great one!  I totally get why pro athletes dope their blood - if you get 1/5th the reverse effect of what I feel, I may go ahead & find a doc to dope mine so i can get back in shape. Seriously some days I have to sit down when I walk from my bedroom to my kitchen. My house is long & skinny but come on. Really?  I used to do 90 minute spin classes & burn 700 calories in an hour with a trainer & skip out of the gym. Jacked up red blood counts are no joke - I will never scoff at anemia again. 
  • My foot is asleep- oh no it's not. It's numb!  So while most of me wishes it were numb so as not to feel nausea, headaches, stomacaches, port being accessed, etc, doesn't work that way. Only the extremities get numb. In my case luckily really only my left foot. I know - now its fat & numb. Don't make fun of me!
  • I figured out why fatigue comes with chemotherapy too. Because I can never freakin sleep!  I can be bone tired, have worked all day & can't wait to go to bed and then - hello! Wide awake. Its maddening because I know there is a perfect inverse relationship between my bitchiness & whininess on any given day and the # of hours of good sleep I had the night before. I feel like I should wear a warning label some days. 
  • And finally, hair. So it's 2012, we have people on space stations, rovers on Mars & the like but we cannot figure out how to prevent chemotherapy patients from being hairless humans.  I would love to swipe a mascara wand across my eyelashes but I can't find the damn things (eyelashes- I know where my mascara is). I am a crappy artist - have you seen me try to draw eyebrows?  Looks like - well nevermind. I gave up on the wigs a while ago when it got so darn hot. I will probably wear the purple one when I start to feel better. I have a closet full of beautiful scarves that I will never ever touch or wear again as soon as I have enough hair not to scare small animals, I mean kids. So if you want one (or more) I'm putting names on them now. I feel bad not wanting to keep these because most were gifts from friends and family, but I will just have to ask you to understand. 

So there you have it, my tongue in cheek rundown of the worst of chemo. Really it's survive able (obviously) just not pleasant. And while I hope I never have to share my experiences with someone embarking on a new kick-cancers-ass journey, I will in a heartbeat. 

I'm doing okay. Still feeling last weeks drugs in some nasty ways, my back is aching from the neulasta shot, & I can tell my blood counts are dropping. But this should be the last yucky week really. I did the MRI today - was the longest test I'd had yet - over 90 minutes in the magnet not moving. CT & mammogram tomorrow.

My house looks like a florist with the gorgeous flowers I've gotten.  This week I will post pics of them along with some from Friday.

Love to you & have a wonderful week. Yay Serena- what an inspirational US Open final!!!

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