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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2010-02-12 18:00
Subject: [cancer] Very nearly lost it today
Security: Public
Tags:calendula, cancer, health, personal
As an extended coda to the digestive issues of the past two days, I spent much of this morning struggling with extended constipation from the post-shedding Imodium dosage of earlier this week. (There's a reason I hate Imodium with the burning passion of a thousand suns.) I don't feel constipation as a crowding in the obvious place, unfortunately, so it can sneak up on me. What eventually happens is I stop being able to eat.

By around 9 am, I couldn't eat anything. I would just retch when I tried. At the same time, I desperately needed to eat, as I need to every 60 to 90 minutes, because when I don't, I crash out mentally and physically. Even multiple doses of Visicol didn't get me moving. Trying to pass, well, anything I began to retch and choke, and came within seconds of vomiting. I wound up flat on my back on the floor simultaneously speed-meditating to ward off the nausea and trying to biofeedback my colon into cooperation.

If I'd thrown up, I'd have called the oncology clinic. If I'd remained stuck at both ends, I'd have called the oncology clinic. In either case, I'd quite possibly have needed to go into the ER, as both situations would have been quite serious for me. (And I was certainly within moments of throwing up, for the first time during this whole chemo process.) calendula_witch brought me a Dulcolax suppository, which was my next step, when things finally loosened up in the lower GI.

The experience was miserable, painful, and frightening. I'm virtually certain the whole business was a direct result of the Imodium two nights ago, which gives me serious pause about repeating that. Except if I don't do the Imodium, I don't sleep. And that is medically risky. Damned if I do, damned if I don't.

Managing all this stuff is like driving a car on ice. Everything I do to correct for one thing risks overcorrection for another. This morning was about as close as I've come to a total spinout, and it was too damned close for me. And hey, I've only done three of twelve. So much more to look forward to.

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User: quantuminsanity
Date: 2010-02-13 02:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Is there an alternative to Immodium? (I realise this might be a dumb question because you probably would have tried it by now if there was)
But sometimes drugs that work the same way still affect the same person differently.

I thought nausea was almost a given with chemo, I'm surprised you haven't had it. One blessing at least.

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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-02-13 02:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, yes, even this crap (ahem) is better than nausea. Amazingly, the nausea has been virtual non-issue, except as a secondary side effect to constipation.
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dinogrl: Renegade Robot
User: dinogrl
Date: 2010-02-13 02:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Renegade Robot
OMG. What about smaller dosage of Imodium? Have you thought about fennel? Or is that just too much to deal with?
My thoughts are with you!!!
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-02-13 02:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
As it happens, I had to step through several doses of Imodium to get the other problem stopped in the first place. I seriously doubt an herbal will help, unless it's in pharmaceutical-grade concentrations. And then I get into the whole "does it conflict with the chemo drugs" thing, which is horribly complex.
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dinogrl: bill the cat takin a dump
User: dinogrl
Date: 2010-02-13 02:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:bill the cat takin a dump
In my case fennel was much more than any pharmaceutical could deliver. But of course, everyone is different...
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Judith Agrathea
User: agrathea
Date: 2010-02-13 03:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I had a frightening constipation scenario as you describe while Grant and I were in SA... I had taken Immodium for the flight over because of stomach upsets. When we got there I couldn't go for days. I could feel my lymph nodes swelling from toxicity.

Eventually we bought me some prune juice. I drank a twelve ounce bottle, despite Grant's caution to take it easy. Suffice to say, my problem was quickly over and I felt an immense amount of relief, though it still involved returning to bowel issues of a different sort. But because they were prune-juice caused, they passed quickly compared to my usual issues.

I can't fully relate... but I do have a lot of sympathy for your condition.
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vicki_rae: 15 Year Survivor Ovarian Cancer
User: vicki_rae
Date: 2010-02-13 04:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:15 Year Survivor Ovarian Cancer
Jay, hugs, gentle hugs. Managing the side effects of chemo is a bitch. Would it be possible to try to manage the constipation side effects sooner, possibly before they manifest?

My best friend is currently having significant success at doing that as she does once-a-week IV chemo (two weeks on, one week off) plus a daily terceva pill, for massively matastisized pancreatic/liver cancer.

She's been doing this since July and the constipation is still a real balancing act but she takes at least three dulcolax pills (one with each meal) every day. Some days, depending on how things go or don't go, she takes more than three dulcolax.

Different chemo has different side effects, and in addition to the anti-barf meds, the oxycontin also has a constipating effect, but this is what works for her.



Edited at 2010-02-13 04:15 am (UTC)
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Mary Dell: mama
User: marydell
Date: 2010-02-13 05:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:mama
Ow, sorry. Glad you got through it without going to the ER.

You might be able to replace the immodium, in part anyway, with some foods that bind up the stool - BRAT diet, that kind of thing. Rice & Sweet Potato are the ones we use around here (I have a small child with chronic tummy trouble, too young for digestive meds), and then we go with juice and Karo syrup for constipation. Your kid's pediatrician may have some ideas, since peds are good at making things happen without drugs. (Your innards are unlike a child's, but they may respond to some of the same protocols).
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Evelyn
User: jaborwhalky
Date: 2010-02-13 06:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have no clue what to tell you.
But I will say July cant come sooner so you do not have to go through all this crap.
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Perdix
User: perdix
Date: 2010-02-13 06:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Do you take aloe juice? The way it's made these days, it has a gentle laxative effect in addition to promoting tissue regeneration and reducing inflammation. I take 2 oz of it daily for gastroparesis and IBS-type problems.

My favorite brand is Aloe Life Aloe Gold whole leaf juice concentrate, although Lily of the Desert makes good products too. Just be sure you buy aloe juice, not gel; it's almost exactly the same, nutrient- and taste-wise, but the consistency is VILE.
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User: hkneale
Date: 2010-02-13 08:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:wraise babies
Had an interesting thought the other day.

Chemo is like massive editing. You're ripping out the bad bits of a novel because they don't belong there.

Result: due to the changes, some scenes, some characters aren't making much sense, so you've gotta go in there and tweak 'em. Sometimes the changes mean that a character's gonna go, or be combined with another character. And this scene's gonna change, and that scene's gotta change becuase of the first scene, and so on.

Everything's chaotic for a while, but it's gotta be done, because you know the novel's gonna be better than if you'd left the bad bits in.

Don't worry that you're not out there writing another novel (though you'd like to be). It's okay to focus on editing the one you've got right now because you know, in the end, you'll have a better book.

It's okay to edit right now if it means you'll get the job done.
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horace_hamster
User: horace_hamster
Date: 2010-02-13 08:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm so sorry to read that you're having these nasty side effects.

IANAD, but I've found Maxolon to be very effective for nausea without any noticeable side effects. MDs in New Zealand regularly recommend Kiwicrush to elderly patients for constipation; it's a dried product made from green kiwifruit that has a strong laxitive effect. Fresh green kiwifruit acts in a similar manner (gold kiwifruit doesn't).

Would it work to daily eat something like prunes or kiwifruit that will, er, keep things moving?
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horace_hamster
User: horace_hamster
Date: 2010-02-13 08:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oops, forgot to add:

With regards to sleeping, perhaps old-fashioned benadryl would work. It's largely gone out of favour for treatment of hay fever because it knocks you out and makes you so sleepy you're not safe to drive, but it does work well as a sleeping pill without any addictive properties. It's what my doctor actually prescribed for me when I was having chronic severe insomnia with depression.
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2010-02-13 14:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If I could send you relief from this through sheer positive thinking, I'd do it right away. I'm so sorry you are enduring all this. I have a friend who has diabetes, and she has this same issue of needs to eat/cannot eat, and it's hellish.
On the woo-woo side, some forms of yoga are good for moving the digestive system along: lj user="calendula_witch"> may well know more than I do on this. It's odd, but it does sometimes work, I'm told, and it doesn't involve any extra medication.
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scarlettina: Jewish: Matzoh
User: scarlettina
Date: 2010-02-13 16:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Jewish: Matzoh
Oh, honey, how awful! If there's any good in this at all, it's that you had someone with you with whom you could work through this. But I hate that you had to go through it. ::hug::

On the subject of binding foods, matzoh is a great binder. In fact, I'm of the opinion that the only thing better than chicken soup when you're unwell is matzoh ball soup because, believe me, those matzoh balls will bind you up but good. And I'd bet money they taste better than Immodium.

Edited at 2010-02-13 04:48 pm (UTC)
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e_bourne
User: e_bourne
Date: 2010-02-13 17:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Every person is different, and every chemo is different because of the cancer it's treating. My mother had slight nausea, my sister was very ill during her chemo, but then her cancer had metastasized (breast cancer) and she was on very heavy doses. While I visited her, she would "forget" to take some of her drugs, and her husband would follow her, scolding. Fear and misery. She's had one scare since, but is fine now. Happy and well. Hold that picture in your mind. This woman nearly bled to death on her bathroom floor after accidentally ripping her port out. She is happy and fine and travels and has energy and no sign of cancer after it metastasized. That is your goal too, and if she can do it, you can do it. This misery will end. Hugs and love.
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User: brownkitty
Date: 2010-02-14 01:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You've probably heard a lot more treatments/cures for being constipated than any human being wants to know exist. So I'm not going to offer any, though I've got a couple of ideas.

However, do your docs know that it can get this severe? I know I'm having an interesting time making sure that all the docs I've been seeing in the past year are caught up and on the same page, and I've been dealing with an issue much less complicated and serious than yours. Maybe one of them, or maybe all of them, would have ideas that would be useful.
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Erin
User: perimyndith
Date: 2010-02-14 05:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Are you taking Zofran to chemo-related nausea? Though it's intended for chemo patients it's also frequently prescribed for pregnant women suffering morning sickness. Nearly everyone I know who's taken it suffered from constipation. In my first pregnancy, before anybody warned me, I had a couple bouts of "might need to call an ambulance to get me outta this bathroom" type stoppage.
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alumiere
User: alumiere
Date: 2010-02-14 22:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm sorry. And I so empathize, although my guts have not been shortened which must make this even harder to deal with.

Hopefully you'll get better at the balancing act. And 18 weeks til you're done with this, hopefully forever.
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