Can you stand up?
I do believe its working. good.
Thatll keep you going for the show.
Come on its time to go.
[Pink Floyd – comfortably numb]
So I am coming to the end of my first 3 week cycle of chemotherapy (only 7 more to go !) Overall, I am relieved that the side effects did not overwhelm me, nor did I experience most of the more unpleasant or debilitating effects, such as vomiting, sore gums or numb hands / feet.
A lot of these are kept at bay somewhat by extra routines – I moisturise hands and feet daily now to combat drying out of the skin (as well as my scar, to try and reduce it) and use mouthwash at least twice a day (although they recommend four times). Not sure of the science here, but I think the chemo hits “newer” cells quite hard, so the front of the mouth has lots of saliva cells etc… that are quickly targetted and can become quite open to infection and ulcers.
The worst side effects peaked around 3-4 days into the treatment, and then subsided going into the second week. These were from the Oxyaliplatin, and consisted of this aversion to cold – which makes walking about outside in the cold quite unpleasant and draining unless rugged up really well. It also bought a horrible nausea, like having low-grade car or sea sickness in the background all day. The anti-nausea drugs probably kept this down a bit, and eating food made me feel somewhat better, although this tended to make me gobble down meals and then feel sick from that too. The advice of 5-6 smaller meals a day could be the one to follow here – I am trying to compile a list of snacky like food so the fridge and cupboard are well stocked for next week’s new cycle – e-mails of recipie’s for good snack meals are encouraged 🙂
I have also been working throughout the period, and possibly ended up working more hours than my body wanted to do (although the mind is still hungry for some challenges – think it’s a bit bored of TV and computer games now !) The pills I take through much of each cycle cause fatigue, which is doubled in the earlier stages by the injection too. This often translates to a slower start to the day, sleeping in a lot more, and then even when I do go into work, I am hitting my wall around 3-4pm. So for next cycle I have proposed to take one day off a week – Wednesday would make sense – so that I don’t overtire myself doing work and prevent myself having energy in the evenings to sort other things in life out – which with the ongoing tests and self-research into healthier living to help my recovery (more on this another post, I feel) are numerous indeed. I am also taking the week of the injection off as this quite physically tiring; after 3 days of work (~5-6 hours each day) I essentially slept through the whole weekend, which hinted I’d got the balance quite wrong. But it was also quite emotionally challenging, the constant nausea and very tender veins from the temporary damage this powerful drug does to them made me feel quite vulnerable and bought home what I had gone through and had yet to go through.
But like I say, overall this cycle has gone well, I’ve not missed a dose of drugs yet (hurrah to the Medi-memo !) and for next cycles I have some ideas set out:
* to keep fixed rest days from work to give myself some more energy outside of the office
* remove stress where necassary and relax more
* spend more time seeing friends – it’s quite easy to become a hermit with lower physical energy levels, but time with friends is very emotionally lifting and just as important
All of which is nothing more than a subtle tack into a better bearing – I have been doing the above, but a little more of each should make the next cycle that bit more bearable still.