Good lord. I had heard loads of stories from women who said, “Oh, I didn’t even notice my first two rounds of chemo on TAC.” I had been told repeatedly, “Nowadays, we have such good anti-nausea drugs, no one has to suffer from nausea and vomiting during chemo.” I bought it. Hook, Line, and I was the Sinker.
I went into my first round of chemotherapy bright and chipper. I had my little cooler of provisions. I had my crushed ice. I had a book and Sam came along ‘just in case I needed someone to drive me home’. I will say that sucking on ice or popsicles during adriamycin does keep you from getting a metallic taste in your mouth. That worked just fine. I ate my lunch, no problem. I got a slight headache with the last drug, but they brought me a couple of Tylenol and all was fine. We collected our baggie of drugs at the door and went along home, expecting to have a quiet evening of rest.
Oh my goodness…no. I was violently ill for the first 24 hours. Not just nausea and vomiting, but continuous, all over muscle trembling. I was only semi-conscious for most of it. Sam had to help me walk to the bathroom. I went in the next day for fluids and yet more anti-nausea meds intravenously, but to little avail. I couldn’t really eat anything for the first three days. I lost four pounds in that time and recovery was achingly slow. Little by little, I regained the ability to hold down food. After a full week, I can just now eat a fairly normal daily diet. Lots of foods are off limits…too acidic, taste awful. Chemo does very nasty things to your digestive track, from your mouth (soreness and ulcers) all the way out. Everything tastes off or just doesn’t taste at all. And although that effect wears off over time, it doesn’t wear off completely. Chocolate ice cream tastes wrong. Now that’s just criminal.
So…the next week we return to the oncologist’s office to see the Nurse Practitioner (NP) and discuss my side effects, etc. She was a wee bit condescending and somewhat unhelpful. It basically comes down to this: They threw the big guns at me the first round. They antiemetics (anti-nausea drugs) I was taking were the best, strongest things they had. She said they could try mixing it up a bit and see if I responded better, but basically they would just hope that I gained back the weight between courses. Come on lady. I’m not going to gain back four pounds in less than two weeks. I’ve barely gained back half a pound at this point. Sam pitched a fit. I’m serious. He verbally pounded this woman for not understanding what was happening with me, not with every other patient. He suggested that looking at statistics and not the patient might not be good enough. She was a wee bit miffed. 🙂 I must say this was fun for me. I’m usually the hard-core bitch in the family. To have Sam verbally roughing someone was enough to give me the giggles, which didn’t do anything for NP’s temper.
In essence, we are now on our own with this one. I’ve had suggestions and we’ll try a couple. At least one of them is unpublishable (wink wink).
We also saw a nutritionist. He was recommended by our friend Jeff, who thinks this guy should sprout a halo and wings. We were duly impressed and came home with a schedule of supplements and instructions for me to ingest 100+ g of protein a day. That’s right folks…you heard it right…a day. That’s a lot of protein, but maybe it’ll put the weight back on faster. I’m doing shakes. Chocolate shakes. They taste pretty good.
Oddly, I still have some hair. I’m expecting it to go soon. I haven’t been troubled too much by mouth ulcers or bone pain or really heavy exhaustion. I get tired in the afternoon and I have trouble sleeping. Next week is going to be better. Then it’s onto Round 2…