Monday, June 17, 2013

They don't tell you this about Chemotherapy!

Going to chemo doesn't hurt.  I'm in my fourth week of this cycle of chemo.  I go Monday thru Friday, every morning.  The doctors office has a room set up kinda like the bar at Applebees or TGIFridays.  The nurses station is in the center, and surrounding it (in bar like fashion) are a bunch of reclining seats with poles.  My doctors office has 8 seats surrounding the nurses station.

There is a regular type chair next to each lazyboy style chair for the loved ones who want to sit through the experience.  Nurses come and check on you, take your vitals, draw blood through your port, and bring you snacks and drinks.  They also get you blankets if you are chilly (it happens even on the hottest days sitting in the same chair for hours).  Its not as bad or as boring as I thought, just bring something to do to keep you busy.  Most people learn crochet or knitting...yes, even men, and work on that while in treatment.  Other people read or watch tv or play with their smart things.

However, even in the hospital, I noticed changes taking place to my body.  I inquired the docs and they always chalk it up to "thats part of chemo".  These side effects don't affect everyone, but they are possible:
  • Hair Loss:  We all know people thin out or lose the hair on top of their heads...but some people (me included) lose other hair...I lost my nose hairs and it was an awful experience.  Your nose is always running and when its dry, it hurts. 
  • Brittle Finger/Toe Nails:  Might sound disgusting, but besides being brittle, most of us get this tell-tale horizontal line (and even a change in smoothness or a bump) on our nails.  They become weak.  I actually bumped my toe and my toenail cracked off!  Another nasty side effect.
  • Loss of Appetite:  Again, this one you might have heard. Some people have a hard time with cold foods/drinks.  Others have a tough time tasting.  During my induction (first round of chemo), my mouth tasted like metal.  My saliva tasted like aluminum and it was awful.  I hated eating.
  • Skin sensitivity:  We all become more sensitive to the sun, so we wear sunblock.  My skin actually starts peeling, including the soles of my feet and my lips.  Again, things that you think wouldn't be a big deal but end up really making life hard. 
  • Night Sweats/Hot Flashes:  I was recently informed by my doctor that I was going through chemo induced menopause.  The night sweats seemed to be common amoungst the other patients as we talked about our own issues.  Both men and women, young and old complained of the night sweats.  Then, I started getting those sweats during the day.  At random times.  The thing about the sweats is that you get super duper hot, sweat (a lot or a little), and then get very very a matter of 3-5 minutes.  For awhile, I was getting night sweats every hour like clockwork.  Sleeping is hard during this time.
  • Loss of Sexuality:  My doctors told me "no sex" while I'm getting chemo.  No worries there...besides being bald, achy, tired, peeling skin, runny nose, and toenails popping off, you don't feel 'sexy' or vibrant at any time.  My body kinda turned that portion of me off, like a switch, if that makes sense. 
  • Your Central Line/Port Restricts YOU:  When you are diagnosed, the doctors arrange for you to get a type of central line/port installed.  Its an easy way for them to administer your chemo, draw blood, give you drugs, etc without constantly having to stick you.  Some people have ports surgically placed under their skin, so they still get stuck, but they don't ruin their veins.  My port is a Hickman Catheter.  I have three different ports, but they hang out of my body.  I have to flush them daily with a special solution to prevent infection and blood clots, but the point is ... they hang outside of my body....these little tubes just jet out of my chest and are there.  It restricts exercise, activity, playing too much or rough with my dog, swimming, bathing...even how you sleep.  Its tough because its a daily reminder about your condition.
  • Achy Body:  Your muscles and bones just become tired.  Lethargic is a new word you are used to saying in response to, "How are you feeling today?" 
  • You Go a lot or Don't Go:  Yep.  Its one or the other...constipation or diarrehea.  On chemo days you probably go no. 1 a lot, too!
I might add to this list as I come across more side effects or talk to more cancer fighters...those of us in warrior training sure like to talk shop!

No comments:

Post a Comment