Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Too Much Information

In which I share what's been happening with me in terms of the chemo - not necessarily for those with sensitive tums...

shawl warp #9 on spool rack, shawl warp #10 being put on spools....

When I was 19 I travelled from Montreal to Oslo by freighter.  My father had travelled from Canada to England during WWII and had his own sailing and sea-sickness story, the moral of which was that you'll fare much better if you keep food in your stomach.  So between his advice to eat something and head for the deck where I could focus on the horizon when I started feeling queasy, plus the cabin steward's insistence that I never miss a meal, I pretty much ate my way across the Atlantic.  And never once did I get truly sick, although my cabin mates did suffer somewhat.  We were lucky as it wasn't a particularly rough crossing, even though we did, for 3 days, have to have the table and chairs anchored down and the 'fence' installed on the table to prevent our plates and cutlery from sliding into our neighbour's lap.

Years of dealing with food allergies that hit me in the GI tract have taught me that when I'm battling nausea I need to eat.  Getting food into my stomach does one of two things.  A - it settles my stomach so that the nausea is bearable.  B - It gives me something to heave if that is necessary.

When the doctor in the ER told me that the reason chemo patients are having nausea is because the chemical cocktail attacks the lining of the stomach, that just meant to me that I was going to have to eat my way through this, too.

I'm truly lucky to be going through this, now.  Advances in treatment of cancer mean that the chemical cocktails have gotten very specific.  I'm also fortunate in that I'm not getting the most aggressive form of the cocktail.  There were two patients in the clinic last time that need to wear cold 'mitts' during their treatment so that they don't lose their fingernails.  :(

I'm also very lucky in that anti-nausea meds are well known and freely given.  The clinic staff have been empathetic and supportive, concerned with making this process as painless as possible - given that we are essentially poisoning the host to kill off the rogue cells.

As for my hair, every day I lose a few more but so far there has been no critical loss.  One of the sites I referred to about the chemical cocktail I'm taking said that I may only experience 'thinning'.  I'll bring the wig with me to Quebec, just in case the loss goes critical while I'm away.  :)

I'm over the worst of the 2nd treatment now.  It takes about a week for the process to work it's way through.  Partly it's the sterioids, too - I'm finding it almost impossible to sleep during the 5 days of treatment with those and that lack of sleep leaves me reeling from exhaustion.  But once that clears up I start feeling better.

One of my concerns is that this whole process is going to get prolonged because my white cell count doesn't recover quickly enough.  So I talked to a friend who has done a lot of investigating into nutrition and helped family through the chemo process about what I can do to help and she gave me some feedback on what I can do.  More eating.  Heck, I can do that!

Currently reading Tales of the Otherword by Kelley Armstrong


Susan said...

Nausea is the worse thing ever to endure for hours on end!

I spent some rocky nights racing a sailboat years ago and heaving over the stern all night long. Finally a banana calmed me down.

In 2001 after hip replacement surgery I discovered that I was 'opiate intolerant' by a skull splitting headache and projectile vomiting (sorry for the visual) They gave me an IV bag with an anti nausea drug used for cancer patients and finally after I had gone through 2-3 of those it finally settled down. My next problem was how to control post op pain when they couldn't give me the usual morphine or demerol. I ended up with toradol.

So I have a good understanding of how you are feeling and I'm sending you good thoughts for the coming trip as you work through this.


Laura said...

Hi Susan, I appear to be opiate sensitive too, so pain management is a problem for me as well. :( Glad they finally found something for you to take for the nausea.

Evelyn said...

I do appreciate your descriptions. Having had a grandmother and aunt with cancer, this helps me understand what they went through. You appear so strong and courageous to me and my thoughts are with you.

gaye sutton said...

Hi Laura,
Just writing to say how much I enjoy your blog and how much I'm admiring the artistry with which you are approaching your cancer and chemo. I have put your blog on my homepage and look for you every day. There is a candle burning for you in New Zealand.

Sally G. Knight said...

Laura, you're doing GREAT. I'm so proud of you for fighting this thing and for continuing to live throughout the battle. I had a friend who, very sadly, just crawled into bed and quit living until she died. That's the hardest way to handle any illness or limitation.

Thank you for your treatment reports. You have no idea how much your sharing helps to educate the rest of us. This is insider information -- the REAL story -- that's impossible to get from anyone except someone who's going through it.

There are a lot of us out here who love you and are behind you 110%. You go girl!

terri said...

so that's two treatments down--hang in there!

Syne said...

You poor dear. Remember, this is one of those times to keep going... ;>

Laura said...

Thanks everyone - it really helps to vent........and if all I have to do is keep eating, I can do that. :^) And yes, stopping here and now is simply not an option. Like Winnie says, when you're going through hell....keep going!

Claudia Rizzi said...

Yay! 2° round down! Go, Laura, go, Laura!!! Can you feel everybody going with you? \o/ \o/ \o/

There´s no better medication than a warm hug when you´re tired like hell. So, receive one from me!!

Take care,

Claudia Rizzi

Peg Cherre said...

Thanks for your unceasing honesty, your positive attitude, and your beautiful weaving.

Anonymous said...

Laura, I have followed your blog for a few years now - yes, one of those lurkers. Wanted to come out into the open and let you know there is a candle burning for you here in Utah. You are a strong and vibrant lady, you will weather this storm too. Your good attitude and positive outlook will get you through this trial. Thank you for the years of teaching you have given this self taught weaver, you are a great teacher - even long distance! I send healing thoughts and a warm hug!
All the best to you and to your family, Martha