Chemo 7 Day 2 – survived chemo Monday and only one to go!

October 5, 2010

I thought this week I would try to do a bit of a chemo diary with a daily update. The pattern has been pretty much the same each time with small variations depending on infections, getting some of the side effects under control etc. For example after the first couple of treatments I suffered terribly from heartburn (believe me it can make life very miserable) but I now take medication to keep my stomach acid under control – similarly with constipation. The thing is that, once more thanks to the power of the brain, I kind of forget how it is in between times so thought I would quite like to keep a record.

Chemo yesterday went pretty much as I predicted. I have developed such a ridiculous trauma about this vein thing that I could hear that I was being totally hysterical about it when the time came. I even broke out in a sweat. This is probably a good moment to give a general tribute to nurses. I don’t know how they do it, but they seem to have endless amounts of sympathy, empathy, patience, warmth, professionalism – and all this while they are totally rushed off their feet. The nurse yesterday was unbelievably sweet with me. She started out by putting a heated cushion over my arms to get the veins to expand and when she found one she wasn’t at all infected by my nervousness and got the venflon in at the first attempt. She then adjusted, padded with little cotton wool balls and taped it until I was happy that it was comfortable. She then also left the heated pillow over my arm throughout the treatment to make sure the vein stayed as expanded as possible.

There was a little hiccup with my bags of chemo. The really nasty one needs to be more diluted when it is administered through a venflon rather than a catheter and the doctor had forgotten to adjust this when ordering it, so she had to get the lab to mix up a new bag for me. But she got started with the other three while we waited for that to arrive and it arrived in time to start it when the others were finished. Then we experimented to find the highest flow I could tolerate before it started to hurt my arm versus not having to sit there until midnight. All in all it took 5 hours to get all my chemo (versus about 2.5 hours when I had my catheter) so it was a really long day. In the days of  the catheter I managed to get home before I started to feel bad (and could drive myself home), but when it takes so much longer I start feeling bad while I am still there. They were very sweet and moved me into a bed when I started to feel bad and my hubbie came and kept me company for the last couple of hours – and to drive me home. For the last couple of hours I was just feeling really rotten and was so desperate for it to be over. I was looking at this huge bag of fluid and the slow little drops going through the tube and it felt like it would never be over – but finally it was!

The nurse had suggested that I take a couple of my extra anti-nausea pills prior to getting the last bag, which I hadn’t tried before and I’m not really sure if it helped. At any rate I had to take a couple more before I went home.

When I got home I collapsed in my nest on the sofa and put on the TV – though have no idea what was on, it just provides a distraction! And I stayed there dozing and sleeping for the rest of the afternoon and evening, apart from getting up for some dinner and to brush my teeth (which I do after every time I eat to try to avoid mouth infections). I was feeling rotten, very tired and sort of nauseous. I had only had a finger of twix to eat since breakfast (figured it wouldn’t matter if I could never face twix again in my life!) and I had a notion for raspberry sorbet when I got home, but couldn’t really get more than a few spoonfuls down. I then tried a nectarine which went down OK. For dinner I had Pasta Bolognese which has become my chemo staple. For some reason I can always manage to get that down and I haven’t sickened of it. Later I had some yoghurt before I went to bed.

By 9.30 pm I couldn’t manage any more so went to bed where I slept fitfully for the night – I woke up fairly regularly because my mouth and throat were dry (we are talking dry as sandpaper here!) and then, as often happens, I woke up about 4ish and couldn’t fall asleep again for a while – but I obviously did at some point because got woken up when my husband got up for work.

No matter how bad I feel I always make an effort to get up and have breakfast with the family and see them off to work and school. Breakfast consists of porridge and copious amounts of juice to wash down my 3 anti-nausea meds, my anti-gout med, my stomach acid pill and my usual vitamin tablet and omega 3 capsules.  

Relatively speaking (like compared to yesterday) I’m not feeling too bad this morning. I’m very tired and need to take a wee rest after every bout of activity, but I have hung out my washing (oops the neighbour saw me in my green wellies, my spotty pyjamas with an ancient fleece on top and of course my hat!), had a shower plus answered some emails and written this so it isn’t too bad. I’m not nauseous this morning – though no appetite either, but I do have a very dry mouth and a disgusting taste in my mouth. I can also feel that I have probably very soon used up all my energy for the day so after lunch I will retreat to my sofa nest again!

So now for some lentil soup…….

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