I’ve noticed that a lot of my buddies who started chemo around the same time I did have slowed way down on blog posts – as have I. I think it’s because you get into the chemo roller coaster rhythm and you run out of things to say – I can only talk so much about nausea, fatigue, and diarrhea. So mainly this post will be about the positive things I’ve learned/taken from chemo – but first, let’s get back to diarrhea!
I’m not going to go into gnarly detail, but since I started chemo, I don’t think I’ve had one normal trip to the bathroom for that particular activity. It’s not terrible, like it was when I was home for Christmas, but it’s not normal. My doctor had expressed some concern about it as the cocktail I am on doesn’t typically cause diarrhea. So on this chemo he asked for a sample.
Today he called to tell me I have an intestinal bacterial infection called C Diff, which you can google if you’re interested, but in short: often occurs in immunosuppressed people, people on chemo, and people who have had to use broad spectrum antibiotics (which is what they had me on for four days in the hospital). I’m pretty annoyed/confused why the hospital didn’t test me for it as I told them I’d had diarrhea when I was admitted and was running a fever (another symptom) but whatevs. I think I have a pretty mild case and am off the antibiotics now, but of course now need to take a NEW antibiotic, Flagyl, to kill the C Diff. In normal people, your own gut bacteria kill it off. I think mine is mild because I have been taking probiotics religiously since this started, God bless them, as well as drinking the KeVita probiotic drinks (thanks to Heidi and Sammy for the introduction)! Anyhow so that’s the latest on my current health.
Oh also, the hot flashes/night sweats – what a drag! Started an otc herbal supplement per my doc called Remifemin and although it can take three weeks to work I think I’m already seeing some improvement. Looking forward to sleeping through the night sometime soon.
Okay so here’s some chemo happy for ya:
- People are super nice to bald ladies. Everyone’s always smiling at me, and I had a fellow survivor tell me in the elevator at the hospital that I am braver than she is, that she always had to have on a scarf, hat, or wig. Don’t confuse bravery with laziness, folks.
- Chemo is killing any cancer cells left in my body. No brainier, yeah, but good to keep in mind.
- Chemo has taught me how to give myself shots. And not only that, it has taught me how to give myself a stinging, painful shot while smiling at my toddler to show him how little it hurts. Acting cred!
- Chemo has made me less vain. A little, anyhow. You can’t maintain the vanity of a long-haired blonde as a perpetually bloated baldy. Teaches you some humility.
- A lot of super great friends and family have stepped up and stepped in to make this time easier. I’ve become closer friends with people I didn’t know as well because they have reached out to me, and for a socially anxious extrovert, that’s a major plus.
- I often felt guilty about not getting enough done while Julian was at work and now I know how much I get done because I can’t do it all, and it’s a LOT.
- I now have irrefutable proof that I am, in fact, a blonde – all the little hairs that have grown back in are the blondies.
- March 30th is my last chemo and very few times have I had something I have looked forward to SO MUCH.
- Friends have brought and sent us so many amazing dinners! It has been such a huge and indescribable help.
- I can take a bath at any time of the day to relax and no one asks any questions.
- I can take my shower sitting down because I’m too tired to stand and no one asks any questions.
- I haven’t had to shave my armpits since my first chemo. Or get sugared. I’ve shaved my legs once, and there is a very fine, unnoticeable stubble on them a month later.
- No period = no tampons or pads! Save on money and time, the chemopause way!
- My bad days make my good days so good that I use and enjoy every moment of them.
- Lots of cat time (yes I’m in the bath and he won’t leave my side)
- Lots of Mom time! My Mom has come out twice now and been the most enormous and invaluable help, plus the kids LOVE seeing so much of Grandma.
- Cancer in general really helps you get your priorities in order. What matters, what doesn’t – turns out shopping still matters to me. Sorry, husband.
- I am so grateful that I am young and strong enough to have chemo – that it is an option for me. That in spite of all the shitty side effects, I’ll come through this.
There are lots of other things, but I’ll leave it there for now. There may not ALWAYS be a silver lining, but when there is one, I’m determined to find it.