Hey guys, sorry I’ve been quiet for so long but I didn’t think chemo would take this much out of me. I am feeling much more energized but the beginning of the chemo treatment left me just laying in the chair watching the days meld together. There have been some interesting things happen since my first treatment.
One of the best things is that my PET scan results came back clear! That means that the cancer hasn’t left my head or neck and traveled to different parts of me, such as my lungs or breasts. While waiting for the results I kept checking myself for new lumps or new sources of pain, which I didn’t find any. When the news came back that I was clear the entire room I was in, all of two other people, erupted in cheers. There was so much happiness in there, so much pure joy, and we are still glowing over the results after 3 weeks.
The Cancer Treatment and Research Institute of Tulsa is where I am now being treated at. My new doctor and the nurses there are so wonderful. They are kind, patient, and really take the time to listen to my fears or worries. There is a 24 hour triage nurse on call so if something changes, or I just get worried, I can call up there and they will help me through it or send me to the ER. Thanks to them my pain level has been under control to the point that I barely use the oxy they prescribed and only use the morphine every 8 hours.
Before my first chemo treatment I had to take a chemo class that told me what to expect, the resources available to me (like the triage nurse), and how my life has changed because of this. There were two large things that were discussed; the first one was that even though something seems small, like a fever, it no longer is. Chemo changes your body inside and out and those things that you would normally let go to get better on their own can actually do some damage to you if you don’t get it checked out. The second was the time period known as the nadir when my white and red blood count would be at the lowest. During this time I would feel the most fatigued and I would be more at risk for illness. Though I did get a white blood cell shot the day after chemo I still have to be careful.
The day of my treatment I admit that I was really nervous. Since I had no idea what was waiting for me my sleep deprived mind conjured images of a dark room, sad people…basically nothing good. Imagine my shock when they brought me back to a sunshine filled room with bright colored half walls and wavy pieces of glass, comfortable recliners, and soothing decor. I sat down in a little cubicle of color, put my feet up, and was offered a glass of ice water and a freshly warmed blanket. Later they told me that outside food or drink could be brought in so we have plans for a real fruit slush from Sonic to come in with me.
While the treatment itself went well, other than not being able to sleep thanks to steroids, I did have a pretty nasty side effect afterwards. My tongue developed a sore on each side and my throat felt like there were shards of glass dipped in acid coating it. That might sound a little dramatic to you but it is the best description possible, and when you are crying because you are so hungry from steroids but barely able to drink water you try to find some way to tell the nurse what’s wrong. I tried numbing lollipops, gargling salt water, and even cold Popsicles just held on my throat. Nothing worked at all and the cold actually hurt worse.
One of my friends on Facebook, who happens to be an ER doctor, mentioned that I try this stuff called magic mouthwash. You use a teaspoon a day, five times a day, and swish it around your mouth before either spitting or swallowing depending on your needs. It gets rid of inflammation, helps heal sores, and the more you use it the better it works. I only had to use it for a couple of days before I cried from not having anymore pain from swallowing or moving my tongue. Since I haven’t been eating much my stomach has become kind of small. Instead of forcing myself to eat more until I am uncomfortable I am eating small portions during the day until I am satisfied. If that means a whole can of soup or just half a yogurt and two egg rolls then that is what it means.
Next week is my Look Good, Feel Better class which helps women learn how to use wigs, head scarves, take care of our changing skin, and some makeup tips. I’m really excited since my skin on my face has been acting up so that part of the class interests me the most. We get free supplies afterwards to help us keep up our skin care and feeling good. It’s going to be a busy week next week with that class, disability interview, and then my next treatment. As my MIL says though, “We got this!”