Sunday, February 26, 2012

The pendulum swing

I'm still not yet out of the woods for this round, but I wanted to document some of my side effects and what I'm feeling.

WIth my last chemo drugs, carboplatin and gemcitabine, the drug=s effects hit earlier, but not quite as hard. I'm still figuring out the precise trajectory is with this new drug, docetaxel, but in general it hits me later, and harder.

Getting treated this week on a Tuesday, it seemed that the side effects came on in this order:

Nausea. This showed up Tuesday, during the chemo treatment itself and hasn't left yet. It seemed to be worst on Friday.

Tiredness. This showed up Wednesday and got progressively worse, seeming to peak at Friday. I took 3 naps during the day.

Lack of appetite. Appetite disappeared pretty much altogether immediately during the treatment (its oddly fascinating to watch it just slip away so quickly) but the oral steroid they have me taking the day before, day of and day after treatment (in addition to the IV steroid they give me at treatment) artificially gives me a bit of appetite. The crappy thing is, my stomach is mostly closed to food and nothing really sounds good... I just have this feeling like I want to be munching on stuff. That tastes metallic and horrible. It's a cruel joke.

Problems sleeping: This started Tuesday, the night of treatment, partially due to the chemo drugs, and partially due to the steroids. The steroids should work their way out of my system by about Thursday, but that's when the real aches and other issues crop up. So basically, for one reason or another, I don't really sleep at all without sleep aids like Ambien until about day 10.

4) Body aches and pains. These started on Wednesday, the day after treatment, and came to a cruel crescendo on Friday night. Everything hurt. My back, my long-ago broken left femur, my teeth, all of my joints, my wrists, my ankles, my guts. Everything that had once sustained any sort of trauma was screaming. I took a cocktail of 5mg oxy-co-done, tylenol and Ambien and eventually slipped into some kind of sleep, telling myself over and over that it was temporary, temporary, temporary. At about 4 am I woke up and realized that the aches had faded away -- like some fever passing. I'm still a little stiff and sore today, but nothing like Friday. The worst of it departed early Saturday morning. Thankfully.

My mouth tasting like an old leather belt. This really started in earnest on Saturday, but was of course brewing all week. On Tuesday, foods didn't have as much flavor, and everything tasted like it needed salt, as an example. I'm at that stage now (again) where everything tastes bitter and metallic, and even water tastes unpleasant. I've been good at dong a baking soda and salt mouth-rinse to change my oral PH balance to be more neutral (this helps avoid mouth sores, which I have not had, thankfully). Though this, itself, tastes horrible. Also, I have been downing the Ricola natural honey cough drops one after another. The menthol numbs the mouth a bit, and the cough drop puts some other flavor in my mouth than the usual flavor these days, which tastes like I'm eating a popsicle made of a chunk of old, poorly-cured cowhide.

Light headedness: This really started yesterday (Saturday) but feels worse today. As I approach that day 8-15 "nadir" point in my cycle where my blood cell counts are lowest, the light headedness will likely get worse. Its interesting that my cell counts being low doesn't necessarily have all that much to do with my energy. Or at least, the chemo drug fading out of my system has a bigger positive effect on my energy than the negative one felt by the low cell counts. During my nadir last round, I was feeling pretty good, though still lightheaded if I'd stand up too fast or take more than about 3 stairs without resting.

In all, I feel like I'm on the mend for this round, which is good. Near the end of the last round, my taste buds had returned nearly to normal, and I was feeling some appetite. The nausea faded to nearly 0 as well. Hopefully, the trend will continue and I'll feel normal-ish again in about a week.


Eclector2 said...

Thank you for letting us know now you are doing, it save us asking a million questions and you from repeating yourself. I really appreciate the clarity of your analysis and explanation of your symptoms, however I am sad that this is your journey. My heart aches that I cannot "fix" this and make it go away. Here's hoping that you are feeling better next week and that the trajectory is up. I love you.

Kevin said...

What Mom said.

Emily said...

Me three. Bleargh. May it pass quickly.

Dave Matheny said...

Being on the mend is good.

Jen said...

You amaze me in how you are actually dealing with all these side effects. Strongly, strategically, positively. Thank you for making me smile every day - love you much.

R said...

Scary stuff, bro. Sending love and healing energy your way as always.

Deborah in MN said...

It meant a lot to me that you would come to the hospital to see me in the midst of your own pain and misery. You're a good brother.

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