19 November 2020 – Chemo, ROUND 3

My mum had prepared for this round mentally; she had done her own research and found out that Chemo Round 3 is one of the worst. I remained blissfully ignorant of this fact, and had in fact made a mental timetable of symptoms for the week to get me through to diarrhoea and euphoria stage where I start to feel better.

I had already spoken to the Chemo nurse to ensure there was a little more care inserting the cannula in to my veins and was relieved they inserted it for the first time in a larger vein in my right arm through use of a vein light device that makes them more visible.

I was Lorezepam’d up and on the main ward again, I felt more mentally prepared. There wasn’t much different about this chemo, I left a few hours later and the routine of wrapping myself up, coming home, putting on pyjamas and balancing Oramorph naps for the arm pain with the insane hot sweats for the remainder of the day.

The following day, I showered and didn’t feel so bad, so Mum and I took a trip out to the supermarket which was enough to make me tired, but still a massive step forward from the first session where I was barely functional.

This session, I had none of the nausea but I was starting to feel tired all the time – really insane fatigue. 

The neuropathy was also an issue. I had a Zoladex appointment on Day 5, and it was the first frost of the year. I got up for my appointment (7:30am) and had to de-ice the car. Usually that would be ok, but with neuropathy I had double layered gloves, hat and snood on to prepare for what was going to come. The usual eye twitching and sinus ache irritation started, but my hands went insane. I kept dropping the de-icer because of the pain. I managed to warm my hands enough to be able to drive but I was in severe shock how debilitating things were in the cold and it was only the start of winter.

My Mum had found some gloves on-line for Raynaud’s Syndrome which are also recommended for chemo patients – they apparently harness the power of silver to retain heat. I ordered a pair after my disaster with the car and went to the supermarket a few days later.

The gloves did nothing, I couldn’t pick up items from the refrigeration units and ended up giving up, empty handed, feeling defeated. I do not recommend these gloves, although that was just my experience. Others might find them a real help. 

I was starting to worry because I was a third of the way through my chemo and starting to notice that I was losing my independence. I had already registered for online supermarket deliveries, but slots were few and far between with Christmas approaching and although my freezer was full, it’s only useful if you can touch the items in it. I also had problems with washing, I couldn’t pick up wet clothes from the washing machine to hang up. 

Whereas usual in the first week post-chemo, I would be having the diarrhoea followed by the euphoric feeling, this time I just had the former, so much so I was taking the loperamide (anti shit pills) like candy. The hunger pangs were still the same, my Mum made me a large batch of beef bourguignon as it was one of my favourites and I could re-heat when needed. There was likely a batch for about four days, but I devoured it all in two. I started to notice that due to the fatigue, that my days were consisting of eating/ sleeping and I needed naps after work –and I only have a desk job! So having a freezer full of homemade ready meals was an absolute godsend, because I didn’t have to do the shopping or cooking. 

Tip: meal prep, meal prep, meal prep!

The issue with all of this is that you would think that chemo would make you lose weight, but no, I was starting to gain it. I got worried and spoke to my chemo nurse who told me that this is common, to listen to my body and I can lose the weight after, she mentioned that puppies help with losing weight – I had told her about Bertie – I had told everyone who’d listen, to be fair! 

So, I had this mental struggle starting with feeling frumpy, fat, tired, poorly – and I wasn’t even half way through. 

Even after all this, my symptoms diminished by day 10, and even with the Capecitabine I had no further symptoms, so I had just under two weeks of feeling more normal – I didn’t get the euphoria, and I was tired but largely felt ok. 

I spoke to a friend of mine, who has had her own experience with cancer (indirectly), she has been the best support throughout, and we bubbled together during lockdown as we both live alone. After discussing the Raynauds glove disaster, she said why didn’t I try wrapping my fingers in foil – the issue is that I can layer as many gloves as I like but I was still getting extreme sensitivity in my finger tips. I saw her point, but I knew touching tin foil would drive my hands nuts. But it gave me another idea, rubber thimbles for sewing. I ordered a pack for my next chemo session, one thimble for each finger to insert into my smart phone gloves – could this be the key more independence.

I started to get hope, the next session would be half way through the chemo – a milestone and looked forward to getting it done – yet again, cancer taught me that I’m an idiot!

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