Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[cancer] Chemotherapy, the first two weeks

calendula_witch and I are off to the infusion center in a couple of hours. I'm up, walked and more or less ready.

Over the past two weeks I have weathered a host of side effects. None of them have been as bad as expected, except the exhaustion, though I still managed to walk every day, and write most days, and squeeze in a trip to Seattle. I did mismanage my spoons yesterday. Was feeling pretty good, so never quite got around to stopping and resting as I should. Compounded this with a food crash heading into the lunch hour. By yesterday evening, I was stupidly tired, and had a small emotional meltdown.

Basically, I've learned to live with chemo. I'm told the first round of side effects typically sets a patient's pattern going forward. It's my expectation that the side effects will get worse as the sessions go on and the drug effects build, but really, I can live with this, and it's less frightening than I'd expected.

We did produce a side effects worksheet last night, with consultative input from shelly_rae. This is so I don't forget to report anything to the oncologist this morning. I'll put it here under a cut for mild medical TMI, for those who are interested in the details.
Side EffectDurationIntensityRemarks

HeadacheDay of infusion, 24 hoursHigh to mildUnusual for me

ConfusionDay of infusion, 3 hoursModerate

Extreme fatigueOngoingHigh to moderateDiminished somewhat over 2 weeks

OversleepingFirst 6-8 daysHigh to moderateFrom 10+ hours down to my usual 6

Bowel distress/severe diarrheaDays 7-9ExtremeIndescribably foul odor, very loose stool, possibly related to pre-existing intermittent lactose intolerance

Bowel distressOngoingModerateSlightly looser and more frequent than normal

NeuropathyNone observedn/a

Cold sensitivityFirst 5 daysVery mildLimited to back teeth

Impaired short term memoryOngoingMildLike I often am, just a bit more

Impaired long term memoryOngoingMildUnusual for me

Impaired thinking skillsNone observedn/aOther

Slowed thinking skillsFirst 5-7 daysMildAll my faculties, just slowed down

Impaired observation/EQOngoingModerate to mildDiminished somewhat over 2 weeks

Loss of appetiteOngoingHigh to moderateDiminished somewhat over 2 weeks

Food 'crashes'OngoingHigh to moderateDiminished somewhat over 2 weeks

Nausea10 minutes, day 3Mild

Sexual dysfunctionOngoingModerateLibido largely intact, erectile dysfunction, difficulty reaching orgasm

Excessive dental plaqueIntermittentModerateCould this be a sign of thrush?

Some of the side effects are distinctly unpleasant, some are socially embarrassing or difficult to discuss (especially the bowel distress issues and sexual function issues), but they are all very real parts of the cancer experience.

We're keeping today's infusion low key, just riding it out and seeing how I do. shelly_rae will be back down tomorrow, with a quiet weekend for all three of us here at Nuevo Rancho Lake. I'll update as I can.

Tags: calendula, cancer, health, personal, shellyrae

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