Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Note to Self: Chemo Experiences and Future Goals

Today's blog (ahem, journal I guess?) is a note to my future self.  It's to remind me about how I'm generally feeling these days with chemo, and more importantly, to send future me a message about some goals I do not want to forget.  With any luck, maybe someone out there will read it and get some benefits too :)
So here I am on day 6 of round 5.  The end is in sight!  If there are no more delays, August 4th will be my last infusion of IP Taxol. I've been blessed so far to have really mild side effects, with the exception of that horrible week in round 2. But I have been feeling generally "icky" since Friday. That's why I wanted to write something down just to remind myself that although chemo has definitely been manageable and a lot easier than I could have expected, it's not exactly easy breezy either.
The ickiness is just that heavy feeling in your stomach - like you really would prefer not to eat.  There are plenty of meds given to control side effects - dexamethasone, ondansetron, prochlorazine.... they are really helpful for sure, but they come with side effects of their own.  The Cisplatin apparently messes with the taste buds. And it's true. Everything tastes a bit metallic.  Except sugar and carbs - those taste good - the only things I'm not "supposed" to eat :(.   And while the dexamethasone does a great job at giving me some much needed energy, it also makes me crave food (in spite of the icky tummy).  And my taste buds demand that it be all the wrong foods.
Then of course there is the general fatigue - I would say that on that front, most of the time I am doing great!  I'm able to get out and be active and do a lot of ordinary day to day chores and whatnot. The hardest part of the cycle is week 1 - I'm not sure if it's the actual chemo, or the Neupogen (now very necessary so that I can continue without delays due to low blood counts), or the Claritin that I take to prevent the infamous Neupogen bone pain. Maybe it's a combination of all three.
Today for example, I brought mom to an eye appointment at the hospital (a minor and quick procedure), brought the car back to the mechanic to adjust the noisy brakes or whatever it was, and stopped in at the college before picking mom up again.  I had plenty of energy during the outing, but by the time I got home I was wiped.  Add in the lack of A/C in this muggy weather and I passed out cold in the chair for a few hours, alternating between hot and cold sweats.  Oh the fun!  I really couldn't get moving after waking up until I had both a shower (#2 for today) and a coffee.
All of this is why I have been going easy on the diet. I am giving myself the room I need to actually eat without starving (I just don't have the energy and motivation required to spend time planning and preparing healthier meals).  I really want to remember this going forward - I hope it will motivate me to stay on the diet when chemo is finally over.  I want to keep my body healthy enough to not have to go through this all over again, potentially with different drugs that may not be as "gentle" on my body as the current chemo prescription.
Those are some of those funny details of what chemo feels like for me these days.  Luckily I barely experience anything like the horrible palpitations in cycle 2 - my heart seems a little fluttery sometimes, but I don't need to rush back to a chair like I'm on the verge of a heart attack.  And I can't believe how well I do feel at times when I'm out and about.  It's a blessing to say the least.  But I needed to write down a bit about how I usually feel, because I know my fuzzy memory will erase some of these details and I will find myself wondering how I really felt way back when I had to go through chemo.
But the most important message I have for future me is this:  "You did fabulously with creating simple and healthy meals for yourself in those first months after the diagnosis- and you can do that again!!!  You feel good now because you are easily 40 pounds lighter than you were at this time last year.  Eating sugar puts you in a sugar coma and sucks your energy.  So, give yourself a treat maybe once every 2 weeks if you really need it, but get yourself back up on that Health Train and stay on Track!!! You can do it!!! - keep your body healthy and always remember your long term goals 🤗 - Go to Hajj, see Mehmed graduate from High School, from College or University, witness his marriage, meet your grandkids, retire and live in a Villa by the sea, visit more countries! And always keep up your prayers :)"

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