Mmmmm, chemo!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Well it's been a weekend, a week and then another weekend since I enjoyed my first "chemotomy" (short for chemo lobotomy, of course).

As the photos above & video below suggest, I had absolutely no idea what the days after my first chemo infusion would be like. The following list summarizes:

1. VOMITING - None. They give you so many anti-vomiting drugs that it feels like your gut actually gets switched to "off" for about five days.

2. NAUSEA - No nausea per se, but because your gut isn't doing anything for almost a week it feels like you have someone else's guts in you. It's a very annoying feeling.

3. FATIGUE - Yes. Napping daily for the first week. Serious three hour naps.

4. DIZZYNESS - Yes. The chemo kills the blood to starve the cancer of what it needs to grow (I guess). What the chemo's doing to the cancer the chemo's also doing to everything else that needs anything from your blood.

5. LIKE BEING PREGNANT - I never really understood how annoying it can be to have something foreign take over complete control of your body. It totally sucks. After being pregnant with three our kids, my wife Nancy is my new hero! (Sorry, hon. I never new!)

6. CRANKY & IRRITABLE - Absolutely. Ask my poor family. I hope now that I know what chemo feels like I'll be mentally better prepared & not let the surprise put me in such a miserable mood.

7. THE "HUH, WHAT?" EFFECT - Some call it "chemo brain" but I like the term "chemotomy". All I can say is that for about five days all I did was wander around the house between naps trying to remember what the hell I just started doing two minutes ago. I now understand why people who get dementia also get mad. It's really quite annoying.

8. LOSS OF APPETITE - I wish! Instead of giving you drugs that turn off your gut they ought to give you something that turns off your appetite and your desire to engage in "happy hour" to make the misery go away.

All in all though, since I wasn't puking my guts out or curled into the fetal position for a week I'd say the whole chemo thing went a whole lot better than I thought it would.

RECOMMENDATIONS - For those of you reading this blog & freaking out in advance of starting your own chemo I humbly pass on the following:

A. Eat Light & Skip the Spices - For some unknown reason my stomach was not happy unless it was full. Think of the hour after Thanksgiving dinner. Stuffing your gut is not something you want to do when your gut is closed for business for about five days. Plus, I used to eat hot sauce and spices on everything. No more. Trust me, I tried.

B. Skip Exercising for a Couple Days - Unless you like that dizzy, almost-falling-over feeling.

C. Just Smile, Don't Speak to Your Poor Children - If that "hey look at me" noise teenagers love to make every waking hour of the day isn't something you're crazy about to begin with, chemo doesn't make that sound more pleasant. Buy some soft foam earplugs (really), and go take another nap behind a closed door.

D. You will Feel Normal Again - Like I'm an expert after one chemo infusion, right? I can say that by the beginning of the second weekend (I had chemo on a Thursday) I felt pretty much back to normal.

E. Skip Lots of Direct Sun - For some reason my face turned beet red after being in the sun just a little bit the first couple days after chemo.

Video Anyone? Speaking from personal experience, I know that for the month or so between the time you think you might have cancer ("Oh shit, I'm gonna die!") and the realization that having cancer is not a lot different that getting a second (or third) job, ("Like I got extra time in my life for one more stupid, time-wasting activity"), "cancer people" have an unquenchable thirst for any and all information about what they're about to go through. For all you happy cancer campers out there in blog-land I humbly offer about 12 minutes of my life in the chemo chair. (Videograpy services cheerfully provided by the "always ready for the next adventure", Mrs. Cancer Dan AKA my loving wife, Nancy.)

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