The Oncology nurse calls you the day before chemo to find out how you got on with the cycle. Being honest, I was deeply frightened of Round 2. Round 1 had knocked my confidence massively and I knew it was going to be a miserable and painful experience.
The chemo nurse and I talked about my fears and she offered to give me some Lorezepam beforehand to take the anxiety off.
Tip: Be deeply honest with your Oncology Nurse, they have the ways and means to help you out and they’ve heard it all before, they will be prepared for what I wasn’t, not because they don’t care but they are more removed, its (mostly) not personal for them.
My mum walked me to the chemo ward that day. In some ways I was glad that I’d been told I was allowed to have someone with me, but in all honestly, I knew my Mum had already seen my uncle go through chemo and I didn’t want her to see me connected to wires. She’d already said she wished she could do this for me and take the pain away – I wouldn’t wish this on anyone let alone my nearest and dearest.
Mum took off with Dad for the afternoon, and the ward had my notes from the Oncology Nurse. They weighed me and I had my Lorezepam and a while later I was ushered into a private room – so I could cry in private if I felt it was needed.
The chemo experience was fine really, nothing out of the ordinary bar the cannulisation – it took three attempts and it freaking hurts when they miss a vein. However, I know my veins in my hands are shocking, and in all honestly, I would not want the pressure of having to find the right spot.
Tip – make a note of which veins do work, I know that I have a good one in the centre of my left hand and one in my wrist on the right. If you have hidden veins like me, tell the nurses to get a vein finder light (I’m not sure what they are called) but honestly, it saves a whole world of pain so they can seek the meatier veins.
If honest, I found this session after the initial fright a little boring. It might have been the preventative pain relief I took before (recommended as the Oxalyplatin irritates the arm), or the Lorazepam, but I felt ok. I left, as always, feeling wiped out and with my hands tingling.
The neuropathy this time spread. The intensity in the fingers was extreme and I had issues with my face, lips and, weirdly to me at least, my sinuses. It felt like my nasal passages were gritty and my eye twitched sometimes when I went outside (likely due to temperature change). None of these symptoms were sorted by wrapping up warm in advance, even by wearing extremely thick gloves/ scarves/ snoods and it was due to air temperature rather than due to sense of touch. The neuropathy didn’t spread below the knees and it only started to ease by the middle of week 2.
The other sensation I had this time was insane hot sweats – sweating through my pyjamas. At the time I thought it was the Zoladex, but no, it only came on straight after the Oxalyplatin. I just had to go to bed, note my temperature was normal so there was no panic (e.g. no fever).
Tip: Buy a mini fan, they are a godsend, in fact buy multiple ones for every room.
I took Oramorph as my chemo arm where the cannula went was painful again. The next week went pretty much the same as after the first session – bar the insanity of the hot sweats. My Dad was laughing about me going through the menopause – but technically he was right. Sometimes there was no trigger, but sweat poured off me at night and I had this constant fight for being either too hot or too cold (due to the sweating). Also, the neuropathy was more intense again, touching a sponge to wipe surfaces after cooking caused a bad sensation as well as touching wet clothes after washing – i worried about my independance.
I started to get excited about the euphoric feeling as I don’t think I ever felt so well and could rationalise that although I felt awful for a few days, I would come through it and feel good.
So, although my symptoms seemed a little worse this time and lasted a while longer, most of them ran like clockwork as with Round 1, so I felt that I was adapting well and had some hope.
Note, once again, I was wrong, chemo is not consistent.