In all fairness I shouldn't complain too much - so far it hasn't been as bad as I expected ( knock on wood!); I'm told by others in a similar regimen that it gets worse cumulatively, but right now I can only comment as to what I've felt to date.
Chemo was weird. Having something stabbed into the port wasn't a great deal of fun, but thanks to a suggestion from the support group next time I will come prepared with EMLA cream. Emla numbs the spot; you apply it an hour before getting jabbed ( and cover it in saran wrap or something similar), or use the patches. When I asked the nurse about it she agreed it was a great idea... in fact in Canada it isn't even prescription, you just ask the pharmacist to get it! I wish they told you about it in advance, but I'm passing the info along. No sense gritting your teeth through chest jabs if it can be avoided!
Once they hooked me up to the port the first thing they gave me was some sort of supplement, actually. I was told its something to help prepare the body a little better, so that the effects of neuropathy won't be as bad. I'm hopeful it works! I can't imagine trying to draw with my fingers numb.
The biggest surprise came when they described the side effects of one of the chemo meds I'm getting, the Oxaliplatin, and mentioned something called Cold Dysesthesias. We hadn't heard anything about that, and were given a handout then to read. Basically, the oxy makes me REALLY sensitive to cold for about 5 days after each infusion. How sensitive you ask? Well, if I need to get something out of the fridge I was told I should use an oven mitt!
- From their write up, some of the effects:
- Tingling of numbness in hands/ feet, cramps
- tightness in jaw or throat/ difficulty swallowing
- abnormal pain sensation in your tongue
- difficulty breathing, like you can't catch your breath.
JOY. Thankfully being prepared in advance helped me avoid most of these, as much as I could. My first treatment was during a particularly nasty heatwave here, so no cool drinks/ no A/C was driving me a little crazy.
Chemo Pump/ Bolus
Admittedly that was an odd sensation. Because of my less than ideal veins I have to have the chemo every 2 weeks via a combination of IV at the cancer center and a pump I take home for 46 hours. This particular methods delivers my other medication, the 5 -FU. After the 46 hours are done the bolus has pumped all the chemo through my port and deflated, so I have to go back to the center to have it taken off. Its awkward and hard to sleep off ( I basically have it on a fanny pack!) but not as bad as I'd anticipated.
I get the expression BONE TIRED now. There were a couple of days I don't think I got out of bed. I slept fitfully on and off, but mostly it was just sheer exhaustion. I couldn't stay up. I have been taking my nausea medication pretty regularly and one of them does also contribute to that, I imagine. Plus without the HRT I have menopause and its joys to contend with as well, so... I was pretty much in bed for a few days.
Happily though, ( and again, knocking on wood) the nausea has been mostly kept at bay with medications. I can feel my mouth dry again, the tastebuds changing ( like they did in the hospital) but as long as I am not throwing up like crazy like at the hospital, I am content.
So, starting off week 2 after chemo. With any luck the effects for this one are mostly done, so one cycle down and 11 to go!