Thursday, September 01, 2011

A Rough Day

Yesterday, Wednesday, was a tough day for a variety of reasons. I had chemo, but I was in rough shape before that.

It started out quite manageably, and I was able to make time to bang out a relatively chipper-sounding blog post. But shortly after that it all went downhill.

They sent me home from the hospital on Tuesday with handful of prescriptions, which turned into the largest Walgreens prescription bag I've ever seen, approaching the size of a grocery-store bag. Due to the difgestive-stopping-up nature of the opioids (methadone, Hydrocodone, Dilaudid) they have been trying to make sure that everything was working, down there. They gave me a prescription for Senna, which is a relatively neutral and subtle over-the-counter med. But it didn't stop there, not my a long shot. They also sent me home with Docusate Sodium, Milk of Magnesia, Miralax (which is made of Polyethylene Glycol, a cousin -- ironically -- to antifreeze) and suppositories. And I was to take all of them. I think that with this particular concoction I could have ingested a mixture of cheese and super glue and it would have broken the sound barrier on the way out.

So, things started moving. That was discomfort #1, which ties into discomfort #2. In days previous, I alwasy took a few prescriptions daily in addition to a handful of vitamins and other herbal formulas. On a normal day I take about 10-15 pills twice a day. But this has increased with the pain pills (and the pills I take to counteract the side-effects of the pain pills, and the pills that I take to contract the side-effects that *those* pills give me) to so many pills, unguents, powders and elixirs that Jen has created an excel spreadsheet to track them all.

So, I take a lot of pills, Which is, by itself, only annoying and time-consuming. But the chemo takes away my hunger and makes me nauseous, so I don't eat very often, or very much. Yesterday morning I had about 6 cubic inches of bread with my handful of pills and laxatives.

About an hour later I felt strung out: sweaty, nauseous, light-headed, weak. It all hit when my brother and I were arriving for breakfast before chemo. Before our food arrived, I was scouting out good placed to throw up outside if I needed to. This reminded me of something from my pilot training, where you're always searching for and noting emergency landing spots, just in case. Same thing: if you think you're gonna vom, best to plan your route. The bathroom in this particular joint is hard to get to and I wasn't sure if you needed a key. So I made an exploratory trip: no key needed. My inner dialogue went like this: Bathroom, no key needed. Good. Now, that's an option unless someone is in there, which I'll need to keep a close eye on. Otherwise, that bush outside would work well, but its right next to an outdoor table where a young couple is eating eggs....

And this is a place I frequent. I wouldn't want to be remembered as "the guy that puked on the patio".

I breathed deeply, sipped water and nibbled at my food -- balancing between throwing up because I was eating too fast, and throwing up because I didn't have enough in my stomach. Getting the food to go, I felt even worse: now afraid that I was just plain going to faint or pass out.

As this point its good to remember that I was also likely dehydrated because by digestive system had been turned into an expressway over the past 24 hours.

At the chemo clinic, I was too light headed to walk on my own. A wheelchair was found, and in the clinic they put me in one of the two infusion private rooms that they keep on hand for sick people THey're probably shielded from the very worst end of the cancer treatment folks, as those people do their chemo in their hospice bed.

Dr. Grampa recommended that I go off all of the prescription stool softeners and laxatives until things started moving again. A good idea, I thoght.

Today I feel similarly weak and woozy though not as bad. I think the Methadone is responsible for part of it. Today is also a day-after-chemo day, so its understandable that I'd feel poorly. I'm eating and drinking high fiber stuff and drinking plenty of water so here's hoping that there is a pain-free way to fight the opioids and their side effects.

Og, and I have learned that methadone makes me hallucinate music. More about that tomorrow.


Emily said...

senna is wonderful stuff. you might be able to got the job done with just that, if the dose is right. see if someone will bring you a bottle of something you'd get at a health food store or GNC: something that's just senna. it'll be dosed an order of magnitude higher than what you get on the shelf at the pharmacy, and you can reduce (somewhat) the sheer number of tablets in the pill minder.

stop reading here if you don't want to hear about other people's bowel habits.

ready? okay. a client of mine had been on relatively low doses of opiates for years, and had never gotten the laxative dose balanced. she was also loathe to talk with her doctor about pooping, so she didn't. she actually got to the point where she would don a latex glove, lube it up, and do what medical professionals call "digital disimpaction".

when hospice came on board and her opiate consumption went through the roof, they told us to dose the senna to effect: just keep giving her more until she poops at least once every three days. so we did, and i'm telling you, she eventually produced the most beautiful bowel movements i've ever seen.

Kevin said...

Not to mention that all the laxatives may be playing a role in the pain, which makes them double-plus awful.

M said...

Coffee is a great idea, thanks! :)

Deborah in MN said...

Ouch. I can relate. I've had similar issues with side effects of opiates, etc. I've had to use suppositories to produce anything but found they weren't that bad, imho. Food wise I have found that bananas or peanuts help aas well as caffee. I give up. It's too hard to typ on my nook

Anonymous said...

When I had morning sickness I found that a lightweight plastic bag, like a produce bag, inside a paper lunch sack made a great barf bag. You can put the plastic in the paper, fold the extra plastic over the edge, fold the whole thing back up and carry it with you. If you need to use it, when you are done just knot the plastic, fold over the paper, and everyone will think it's your lunch till you can dispose of it. Hopefully you won't have that much nausea, but it's a good trick if you need it.

Anonymous said...

That was me.


Eclector2 said...

I wish that your wonderful sense of comic delivery was being used or something less painful. It helps us, the helpless readers, to absorb your story and even smile when we know if was far from funny at the time. Bless you for taking care of us and our sensibilities. Your humorous detachment from your own misery is amazing and very therapeutic, at least for us.
Love, Mom

Post a Comment