I approached this week with trepidation – it was to be my second chemo treatment and I had no idea what to expect. The protocol had changed. The third drug, what I call the “Red Menace,” was dropped from my protocol. Why the “Red Menace?” It was definitely red, in two wide tubes, and pushed through with a syringe into my IV. It lived up to its nickname, and had horrid side effects, with what my doctor said was likely very marginal results. It also is the “bald” drug, which means it causes you to lose ALL of your hair. The other two cause a lot of thinning. While the hair loss does not bother me, the side effects were awful. I am happy it is gone.
The other change was that the drug I took in pill form was going to be administered to me via pump for 48 hours. I hoped that with the Red Menace gone, I would not have such a bad reaction. I did know that the pumped chemo did give me nausea because when I took it in pill form I started feeling it within a couple of hours. My protocol also changed because now I am getting chemo every two weeks, with slightly lowered doses. Not happy about that, but I have to do what is needed.
My third week after the first chemo was heavenly. I actually felt hungry, enjoyed eating, was strong doing yoga, and felt about 90% of normal. I worked some full days, and had energy. I even was able to eat fish and some salads, both of which I usually love, but which had no appeal until late last week. I knew that I would be starting over with chemo, but decided it had to be better. That week was the calm before the storm in my mind. I tried to enjoy every minute of every day. By Sunday night, I was feeling worried but optimistic it would be better this time around.
The better was not much better. Chemo was Monday, the pump was put on (I wear it in a waist-pack) after infusion and I went home. For three hours I felt fine. I cooked dinner with my son, Alex. I ate well. Things were looking up and I was optimistic I would not feel as badly as last time. But then, the nausea hit and hit me hard. Not as unbearable as after the first round, but absolutely unrelenting. It was unrelenting for two very, very long nights and one long day and morning. None of the anti-nausea drugs worked. The only thing I could “eat” on Tuesday was Ensure and I did not keep the last one down. The nights were the worse – I could not sleep and simply laid there waiting for the night to end, while suffering in agony from the nausea. Every time I heard the pump push the chemo through me, I felt more nauseated. Only alternative remedies helped a bit, knocking me out for two hours at a time. That was an incredible relief. I frankly would love to be sedated for two days and wake up when the pump is gone…but that is a dream that will not come true.
On Wednesday morning, the day the pump was to be removed, I could not wait to get to the clinic and get it done. Like last time, I then spent two mornings at the clinic, getting hydrated and getting more anti-nausea medication. Only after that did I feel relief from the nausea although my stomach continues to be uneasy.
Today, Friday, is the Fourth of July. I actually felt stir crazy this morning after four days of a lost week, and went for a walk with the dogs and my husband in Birmingham. That is a good sign I am coming back to life after this chemo. So, it appears my new normal with the new protocol is two days of hell, two days of recovery, and finally some semblance of being okay. Tomorrow I will do yoga, and Sunday we are going to the theatre to see The Book of Mormon. While yesterday I was not sure I could make it through the show, today I know I will and will enjoy it.