Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Side Effects

I often get asked how I am feeling after Chemo, sometimes I feel like this is a trick question, which I know it is not.  My usual responses range from great to meh, depending on the moment. After the first week most of the common side effects have passed, but a few remain, they don't make me feel bad necessarily but they definitely prohibit me from feeling normal. So I figured I'd go through and list the possible side effects of the three Chemo drugs I receive and tell you about my experiences with them.

1) Bone Marrow Depression (Low White Blood Counts-Possible infection; Low Red Blood Counts- possible Anemia; Low Platelet Counts- possible bleeding)
         So my counts are low at least the first week, I know this because of the blood work done after Cora was born. I am also Anemic, so have been cooking a lot in my cast iron and taking an iron supplement. I've been fortunate to not have to deal with infection or bleeding and am praying it stays that way.  This side effect is the reason I have the neupogen shots for 7-days post Chemo (these also have side effects)
2) Hair Loss- so that happened two weeks after my first chemo, my eyebrows and eyelashes are working on making themselves extinct as well.
3) Nausea/Vomiting- I get two meds on Chemo days to help combat this side effect, but with the last two treatments have noticed that I needed my Zofran (yep more side effects) on the Thursday and Friday after Chemo (days 6 & 7 post)
4) Photosensitivity- This basically means I have to stay out of the sun, no biggie.
5) Pink or Orange Urine- yeah so that one is fun, and it starts about 10 minutes after my infusion is done and lasts about a day.

1) Bone Marrow Depression
2) Fatigue- Yep, this is one reason I am on the couch for the first 3 days and then take it easy for the rest of the week, I've been told that this side effect is cumulative, having only had Chemo while pregnant I can't accurately judge because at 9-months pregnant I was exhausted anyway after my last Chemo.
3) Hair Loss
4) Headache- So far no headache :)
5) Heart Toxicity-  Thankfully this is a no show as well
6) Nausea/Vomiting
7) Metallic Taste- I've not necessarily had a metallic taste but my tastebuds are toast after each treatment. After each Chemo treatment it seems to last a little longer as well. This makes eating challenging. You know when you have a cold and you can't really taste your food, it's like that only magnified, and it lasts for at least a week. This makes me not want to eat. While I was pregnant it was pretty easy to make myself eat, because I knew baby needed nutrition. I'm going to have to force feed myself now because I know my recovery time for fatigue will be lessened if I'm feeding my body good food, it just sucks when everything tastes like nothing. (Salt doesn't help, I realized early on that I was adding way too much salt to my food and it still wasn't really tasting)

1) Bone Marrow Depression
2) Hair Loss
3) Neuropathy- (numbness/tingling in your hands and feet) Again I've been lucky so far to not experience this one.
4) Nausea/Vomitting
5) Joint and muscle pain- My hips are killing me by the end of the first week post Chemo.
6)  Fatigue
7) Nail Bed changes- I have Chemo lines as seen below. I've heard from some others that nail polish won't stick to their nails so I'm very glad a friend of mine just started selling Jamberry Nails which stick fabulously to my nails so I don't have to see them.
8) Stomatitis (Mouth Sores)- I have to be vigilant about brushing and using my salt/baking soda water mouth wash after I eat to keep these at bay. The other day I was so excited to have some orange juice without getting heartburn and after two sips I had a sore on the side of my fun.

MISC- There are other non-specified side effects as well that effect cancer patients in general
- insomnia- I only have had trouble sleeping on the first two nights post Chemo but that has been because of the insane amount of water I have to drink
- anxiety- So far I have been able to talk myself down from my irrational fears, hope it stays that way
- memory (Chemo Brain)- yeah so pregnancy brain is going to be extended by a few months :)

OTHER- Neupogen, Decadron, Zofran- I take these meds to lessen the side effects listed above but they come with their own joys
- Bone pain from Neupogen- this seems to hit randomly for the week I get the injections
- Heartburn from Decadron- This was made worse with pregnancy and I am really hoping that rounds 4-6 are better because it is pretty bad for the 3 days I am on it and about 3 days after.
- Constipation from the Zofran- enough said.

So now you know how I am feeling, but if this is what it takes to beat this stupid disease so I can continue to truly live to see my two beautiful little girls grow up I am all over it. All of these side effects will pass and be a mere memory. 

1 comment:

  1. I whole heartily applaud you for your positive attitude during the midst of your own journey with cancer.You are truly a blessing and you will be in my prayer always. I can't wait to here that your free of cancer.God Bless you and your family.