Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Day After

In all fairness, they did try to warn me. The nurses, I mean. Oh, sure, these women were offering up all their advice and knowledge to me about chemo, but how much did they really know? They've worked in the chemo ward for 15 - 20 years. Yeah, so? Have they ever had the poison pumped into THEIR bodies? Heck, no.

Why the bitterness, you might ask? I'll tell you why! Because I was told this isn't like the olden age of chemo! You don't receive your treatment then spend the next few months sick as a dog. There are far too many types of anti-nausea medications out there. If the four we give you this week don't help, by golly, we have a bazillion others to choose from. We'll tweak until we get it right. That's all well and good, ladies, my dear nurse friends who have never gone through this, but - What. About. Me. Right. Now?

It's Saturday! I'm suffering! All day long. Ok, I can't get comfortable. My whole body feels like it's been chewed up by a wood chipper, spit out, glued back together, run over by a steam roller, then bounced on like a trampoline - which is all perfectly normal. They're sorry I'm aching and tired, but we'll control your urge to hurl. Well, guess what? YOU DIDN'T. It was 4 or 5am that I woke up sicker than I've felt in possibly my whole life.

It was before Christmas I was told it was nothing to worry about. Now three months later I'm sitting on the potty with a trash can between my legs - thinking about all the doctors and nurses who down played this all the way. Would I have really wanted to know in December - almost exactly three months ago - I would be sitting sitting like this? Would I have wanted to know that I would end up typing on a public blog about a most humiliating position?

It takes a very close friend to discuss your diarrhea with, but I sit here tonight telling the world that I not only had diarrhea happening to me, but I was projectile shooting out the other end at the same time. All this with four different types of anti-nausea medicines engulfing my body. My brain is unable to wrap itself around how bad off I'd be if I had not been on any medication at all.

Knowing I had cancer in December? Not knowing how I would have felt to find out that early? Which meds might have worked? Right this minute? I don't know the answers - and it doesn't matter anyway. The best advice I've been given so far is 2 things: first is to start a countdown to my last chemo treatment (it's somewhere down on the bottom of the page here) and the second is along the same line - don't look at it as day by day, but as 5 minute by 5 minute.


  1. Sheri, I've got a very strong stomach so I can't say I've been where you are. However, I had awful headaches the first round from the antinausea pills and I was ready to throw in the towel just like you. I had intestinal problems throughout chemo and breakthrough nausea as well as terrible indigestion. I'm still on a prescription antacid to help with the leftovers of the damn chemo.

    Antinausea is like a dance. It's very hard to find the balance but one thing you need to do is make sure you're taking those pills like a religion at the correct time. Many of these pills have multiple side effects. Most people take antinauseas for 4-7 days after chemo and during this time, you'll have a wealth of intestinal issues with nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. The pills seem to shut the intestines down for a few days to combat the nausea, then your body wakes up with a purge.

    While it's just awful to go through what you are going through, you'd feel awful if nothing was moving too. It's a double-edged sword. Without a doubt, you need to let your chemo nurse and oncologist know exactly when you took the pills, which ones, and your physical reactions. They know the most about this and they can juggle your meds.

    This first time is a nightmare. I'm with you there. And your anger is justified. You need to be monitored by medical professionals so call them with this immediately. That's what they are there for. Someone is always on call around the clock and frankly, I think some of the office nurses are more clued into how patients are feeling than the oncologists themselves.

    I totally believe the docs downplay this whole thing so we don't balk. The pain from he mastectomy, the stupid lymphedema, the nausea from chemo. My suggestion is to find someone to help you through this who has had chemo themselves, if at all possible. For some reason, this just makes the coping a little easier (case in point, I take care of my Mom now.)

    My prayers are with you.


  2. my sister too had sickness with her chemo.. i guess the amount of dosage and the amound that your body can actually tolerate makes a huge difference... but my sister at times was violently ill... I wish you comfort.. sending my thoughts and more so my prayers.. I don't know what else to say.. only wish there was more I could do for you.. stay strong Sheri, don't let this beast get the best of you..

  3. Sheri, sweetie, this is part of the chemo process. I know this is hard, but each one of your breast cancer sisters, especailly those of us who have been through chemo, have walked this road before you. So we do understand, we really do.

    I ended up in the ER and then the hospital because my diabtes and my body could not handle to first round of chemo.

    Trust your nurses and do not alienate yourself from them. You want them on your side. And yes some of them may have walked this road before you. I know I had one who had. they are not there to cause you pain, but to fight this beast with you!

    Your doctors will get it right eventually, but everyone's body is different. I know, because I have been down this road once.

    I know we have talked about this before you started this route, but it is another thing altogther to actually make it through your first chemo. It is not easy, but it is the price we pay to save our lives sweetie. You will get through this but not only for yourself, but for your children.

    Let me say this, plese do not dismiss the pain our sisters payed before us. Those sisters in arms who paved this path before us years ago did suffer more then we do now. Many died to open the new roads before us now.

    Yes, let your doctors know that this is not working, but realize this is your bodies fist introduction to this poison. Give it time and keep pushing until you find the right anti nausea meds. You may never feel completely well, I didn't , but you must find a way to over come your bitterness. If you do not sweetie it will over come you.

    The beast is an angry monster but do not let her anger strike you down. This is not a humiliating process, but an enpowering one. Believe that sweetie and you will rise above the beast. Fight her with hope and difiance. You are strong Sheri. I believe in you and I am here for you.

    Take care of you and know you are not alone!


  4. I agree with my fellow TNBC sisters and non-TNBC sisters that you need to keep a journal of when you take the meds and your reactions. Take the meds faithfully and on time. If the vomitting or nausea continues, call your Onc immediately and get a another prescription. If that doesn't work get another anti-nausea med.

    It sucks to feel like a guinea pig trying to each drug to see if it works. I finally received medial marijuana (pill form) and a transderm scop patch that did the trick for me.

    The med/food/water log that we kept - we being my sweet hubby too - helped tremendously. If I was too out of it, he watched the log, would wake me up to hand me a pill. The log also allowed me to see if I was eating and drinking enough. I used the log for the first 2 chemos, by then I was a pro. Or so I thought. . the chemo brain happened and I couldn't remember anything - so the log helped again.

    Sharon says it well . . .you may get bound up (isn't that a nice term) from the anti-nausea meds, so you take Ducolax. After a few days, your body swings the other way and you are grabbing for thed Emodium AD. It's a fine balance to figure out.

    I am so sorry you are going through this! It's definitely no fun.

    So - in short - take the drugs faithfully, have your family help with the log, and call the Onc no matter what time of day or night it is.

    Hugs my friend!


  5. Hi Sheri,
    So glad you are enjoying the goodie-package. Wear your crown in joy and silliness! It is truly all about you, girlfriend!
    Have to relay a ridiculously silly situation from the past (and there were too many to recount) when Steve was in the middle of his 9 months of chemo.
    He used to get his chemo every 30 days and he'd be at St. Joes in Burbank for the weekend when he was administered the drugs. (Cisplatnin was the worst.) Usually in the middle of the night, so he could "sleep through it". They always set up a bed for me in whatever room he was in so I could sleep over. Not a good sign when a hospital does that "out of the goodness of their hearts", but it worked for us because we were sure he would be fine eventually. Patience. And he was!
    Here's the ridiculously ironic part. Steve was playing the part in a Canyon Country Theatre Group production as Dr. the play "Arsenic and Old Lace".
    Well, every weekend he would lose more hair (until he finally shaved it all off), and the prednisone gave him what the nurses called a "moon face". But after every chemo, he would go in and play his part and be in fine feddle.
    I asked him why he was driving himself so hard. Just prepare an understudy, hang at home and cool his shoes. Relax, heal and then go back to the theatre.
    His response: paraphrased....was that he was now perfect for the part of Dr. Einstein! He was bald, a little "off" and oddly different looking. The steroids put so much water weight on him, that he appeared huge. He was, in effect, in perfect character.
    We later learned at the end of the show, that many folks had come weekend after weekend just to see how the crazy Dr. Einstein was continually changing tho it was part of the play. ; )
    Beautiful lady, continue to throw yourself into those things that you are passionate about, .... your family, your joys, hobbies, those things in life that make you the awesome woman God made you to be.
    Steve told me once when we were in the worst parts of his cancer that he wished he could pull a zipper from the top of his head, all around his body and up the other side of his head, so he could jump outside his body until it was fixed. Then he'd jump back in when everything was perfect, zip it back up and he could carry on as he always had.
    Well, that was 19 years ago. And minus a right lung, 1/2 tyroid and thymus is GRAND. But not as it was before.
    Life is richer, deeper and full of people we would never know, if it had not been for the hard times.
    We are not the sum total of our body parts.
    Steve says that's why God pretty much gives us 2 of everything....but 1 heart......because it's more than enough....
    One thought, one minute, one hour, one day at a time. One decision at a time. Then deep breath. First foot forward. And your steps are "ordered by God".

  6. Sheri I'd so hoped and prayed you wouldn't be that sick.

  7. I have been in this position before too. Then once you get the Diahrea and you take the other meds you get constipated. A friend actually recommended the activia type yogurt and I did think that helped on my last few rounds. I started drinking them a few days in advance. I'm also a bit crunchy so I took something called slippery elm bark which helps all typed of irregularity so I wasn't swinging back and forth. Chemo is really horrible. It really is helping you though. My cancer was totally gone after chemo so just remeind yourself it is doing its job! Hang in there. Many prayers!