Chemo Three: Hitting the Wall

Last week’s treatment was punctuated by hitting the wall. After two weeks of  nearly symptom free chemo, I was visited by the ghosts of Christmas past present and future: loss of appetite, nausea, and diarrhea, all of which made Tuesday’s chemo a nightmare. The diarrhea hit right in the middle of the drip, so there was an interruption while the nurses got enough Immodium into me to stop it all up.  The appetite loss was a silent symptom, it took  a sound talk by my husband and several letters from my sister-in-law, who has been through breast cancer (and dropped 47 lbs), to make me realize I had to start to eat.

The oncologist added Calcium to my diet, since the bone hardener caused the serum calcium levels to fall and my hands to draw up like the Creepers, and we got some Ensure courtey of the American Cancer Society, as well as ordering high calorie instant breakfast online.  Several nausea meds have worked well in controlling the urge to throw up, which follows the diarrhea as the night the day.

Somehow session three got finished.

Session four comes up tomorrow, unless my white blood cell count dictates I get an injection. It fell last week as well, making me so tired I could barely turn the page of a book.

If this all sounds incredible, talk to someone you know about the effects of chemo. It sounds unbelieveable you could go from hale and at least semi-hardy to vegetative in just a few days, but believe me, you can. It is after all, something that is being put into you to kill wild cells. Chemo is to be respected, I have decided, and even the process of my hair leaving my scalp (which it is doing in bits this week) is to be treated with kindness. My cousin, who is something else with a needle and thread, has designed for me some nifty scarves for days I don’t want to wear my wig. Each year she does the 20 km Susan Komon run in her town, and this year she’ll be running for me.

While at the Drip Factory last week, too, I talked to a young mother, who had cancer of the cervix and uterus, if I thought I had a reason to be angry about cancer  it was nothing compared to her story.

So life gets relativized somehow in the whole process.

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