The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.
- H.P. Lovecraft
As humans, we are ingrained to fear the unknown. That was definitely true for my first round of chemo. I went into it believing that I would get through this, knowing that God was by my side, and Praying it would all go as well as I hoped. But nevertheless, I was scared. I've never been through chemo, and while doctors and books and resources and survivors had told me what to expect, everyone's BODY responds to chemo uniquely and I had no idea how mine would respond.
Since I am writing this, clearly, I survived my first round of chemo. :) I meant to get this update written a little sooner, but I seemed to run out of time each night before falling asleep!
The day of chemo (last Monday) went smoothly. There were a few delays in getting all the orders signed and ready for my medications, and since my infusion port had just been placed during surgery on the previous Friday, and was still swollen, healing, and tender, it took the nurses an extra try or two to get access to it.
The first half of chemo treatment, is not the chemo medications, it is the all the premeds they give you first.
- Cinvanti - an anti-nausea med goes into the IV first.
- Dexamethasone - a steroid to help boost my immune system goes into the IV second.
- Sustol is given through an injection in my abdomen while the dexamethasone is flowing.
Finally, after about an hour, it's time for the chemo meds.
- Adriamycin - is injected from two syringes over the course of 10 minutes
- Cytoxan - is injected through the IV for 30-45 minutes.
Then the nurse places the Neulasta on my arm and I'm free to go.
A couple of common questions I've received:
Did the chemo hurt, or how did I feel as it was administered? Honestly, nothing. It didn't hurt and I really didn't notice any feelings while it was injected.
So how did I feel in the days after the chemo?
On Monday afternoon, I felt a little tired, a little off, not really nauseated at all. I had a little bit of a headache, but still worked for the rest of the day.
On Tuesday - I felt a little "off" at times. My normal go to foods didn't always sound as good. I took the prescribed anti-nausea meds (even though I wouldn't really describe what I felt as nausea) and they seemed to help with the "off" feeling. Tuesday afternoon, my Neulasta device on my arm beeped and started it's 30-45 minute injection. Most of the time I felt nothing, occasionally, I felt a slight burning (like you would during any IV injection) - but nothing horrible. Once the device beeped again to signal it was done, I started to remove it. This was a bit of a process - the adhesive on that sucker is STRONG! I felt like I was going to rip off layers of skin trying to pull that thing off. But alas, I did get it off. Tuesday evening, I had a bit of a boost of energy (which I had been told to expect because of the Neulasta).
Wednesday - I woke up and felt pretty darn tired. I felt a little "off" again, and continued to take the anti-nausea meds which helped with that feeling. I made it through the day at work, but admittedly, I was pretty tired at the end of it all.
Thursday - For me, this was probably the day I was most tired. I worked all day, and didn't take the advice to sit down while working (I normally stand) until the afternoon. I got home that night, and slept for about 2 hours. Also, on this day, I didn't really feel "off" but none of the food I had for breakfast or lunch sounded good. So I broke away from the keto diet that I have been on for a few months, and went to Dairy Queen for a blizzard and cheese curds for lunch!
Friday - I learned my lesson from Thursday. I made sure to sit as much as I possibly could during the day on Friday. It helped, I had more energy left at the end of the day and felt a lot better.
Saturday - By Saturday morning, I felt pretty much back to normal. Heat and physical exercise would still exhaust me faster than normal (although, since it was 100 degrees on Saturday - it admittedly could have been the crazy Iowa weather!). I was able to enjoy my boys and my regular activities.
Sunday - Pretty much back to being a normal day for me.
Now, I have a week off this week, and then I start it all again for Round 2 next week. But, this time, it is not completely unknown. The fear is a little less, and I know that God is still walking this journey with me.
Now, I just have to wait for my hair to start falling out (actually, I have an appt to have it shaved next Saturday anyway). I have several cute hats, a few gorgeous head scarves, and a beautiful wig. I'm as ready as I can be. And besides, it is just hair - it grows back!
Stay tuned for the journey!