Health

Week 14- 12 Rounds with Mike Tyson

‘Chemotherapy week’ (it sounds as if it will be as exciting as ‘Big Cat Week’ on the BBC, but believe me, it is not), started with a huuuge trip to the pharmacy on Friday.  I had four different prescriptions in total. An anaesthetic patch to numb the port that I had put in at my last surgery- (a way to administer tons and tons of drugs without wrecking every vein in your body- I am surprised that addicts haven’t caught on to the idea),  big anti-nausea drugs, more anti-nausea drugs and an injection for the day after chemotherapy to get my white blood count back up because this takes a hit with chemotherapy.

To fast or not to fast…

I then had a couple of days to prepare for the assault.  I have read a reasonable amount around chemotherapy and fasting including, but not limited to this one.  The consensus seems to be that fasting can help to reduce side effects and recovery times from chemotherapy, so I decided there was no harm in trying it.  In the study quoted, patients fasted completely for 36 hours before chemotherapy and 24 hours afterwards. 

Reading other studies it also seems that intermittent fasting can also be useful during chemotherapy,, With this in mind, rather than starve myself, I greatly limited the number of calories I consumed in the 36 hours before chemo (around 500-600 on the Sunday and then a light breakfast on Chemo days followed by soup for lunch).

I had also been really limiting my sugar intake as evidence points to this being another little treat that cancer loves, so I found it a bit Alanis Morrissette that the first thing I was given at chemo was a 5% glucose solution drip. This was then followed by a corticosteroid, another anti-nausea medication, and then finally, after about three hours, the first chemo drug.

Let the poisoning begin…

If you had to imagine what you thought the worst chemo drug would look like, then this was it- a huge red liquid-filled syringe that the nurse had to slowly empty into my system over the course of about twenty minutes.  That was then given another forty minutes to take effect, before the second chemo drug in the EC treatment was given.  Eventually, I was allowed to go home, being told that the side effects were likely to kick in on the Wednesday or Thursday and not to hesitate to call the cancer nurses if anything wasn’t right.

I was prepared for a Wednesday/Thursday assault on my system.  What I wasn’t prepared for, was that assault to start at 6pm on that Monday evening.  Luckily I had a friend round kindly delivering me food parcels, because once the nausea and light-headedness began to kick in, it really kicked in.  She stayed and did my son’s homework with him, and I managed to get him to bed before the puking began.

Hangover, what hangover?

I think that the only way to describe what chemo feels like is to imagine the worst hangover of your life ( mine involved eating chicken wings in my underwear, so you can imagine that it was fairly bad), crossed with the flu (proper flu, not man flu) crossed with heartburn. That is what the following 16 hours were like, and which involved in the region of twenty lots of puking (both toilet and bucket were used in the making of this horror movie- yes, it was that bad).

Pukefest…

I managed to walk my son to school the next day (I think I did, but no doubt someone can let me know if that was just a dream), before returning home and having the puking continue.  It is at this point that you thank God or Buddha or just She-ra for having friends who have already been on this expedition, because one of my friends said that much as you feel rubbish, you shouldn’t be on constant puke alert, and to ring the cancer nurses, which I duly did.  Their response was to say to take the extra anti-nausea drugs provided for the tail-end of the week and hallelujah! A few hours later the nausea and puking began to lessen considerably. When a friend offered to have my son overnight, it was all I could do to summon the energy to say Yes by text, which apparently was enough to let them know that I must have been bad.

By Wednesday, I was feeling marginally better, and almost felt human by Friday, although the unexpected exhaustion that comes upon you every day really is something else and I’m not sure that 12 rounds with Mike Tyson would have quite cut it…

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