THIS IS WHAT CHEMO LOOKS LIKE
Hopefully, most of you will never see behind the scenes of a chemo treatment. So I thought I would give you a peak behind the curtains.
The chemo I’m getting this morning has a 50/50 rate of allergic reaction. These reactions can range from tightness in chest/difficulty breathing, to chest pains, red flushed skin in face to intense sudden onset of pain in low back. So, I started pre-chemo meds last night to help avoid any such reactions. I took 5 steroid pills last night, then 5 this morning along with two Pepcid pills and one Zyrtec. This seemed to do the trick last time, so I’m hopeful for a smooth ride today.
Upon arriving to the chemo cafe I was given a window chair, yay! Soon after getting settled the nurse prepped and then plugged into my chest port to get things started. After flushing out the port (it’s still working great!) two nurses verify my identity, date of birth and ensure we have the correct chemo on board before getting started.
Because of the potential allergic reactions to the chemo meds, there is a slow process of increasing the dosage every 15 minutes while monitoring for reactions. If no reactions occur, once we reach what the chemo nurses call “cruising speed”, the chemo will go in over three more hours, taking about four and a half hours all together with no reactions. If I was to have a reaction, they would treat me with appreciate anti-reaction meds, wait 30 minutes, then start again at slowest speed I tolerated before reaction. In that case, it would take five to six hours all together.
The chemo does not make me sick instantly. Instead, the side effect creep in slowly in the hours and days after each round. If round 5 was any indication, I anticipate being pretty sick by Thursday afternoon. Sick with this chemo means severe muscle aches, intense bone pain and inescapable nerve pain in back, hips, shoulders hands and feet. Headaches, hot flashes, and incredible fatigue. The worst of this pain will likely last 6-7 days, then I will start to crawl out of the pain, one day at a time as I prepare for round 7 in two weeks.
I’m in awe of the human body as I navigate chemo treatments. Each time I think I’ve reached my limit and can’t take it any more, the recovery begins, slow but steady, and my mindset shifts back to “I’ve got this”. And even as the dread for the pain that will inevitably come my way in coming days, I’m filled with gratitude. I’m grateful to live in a time where effective treatment is an option, grateful for my privilege to be able to access the care I need, grateful for the generous support I’ve received to afford this care, and I am grateful for this body of mine that, like the Energizer bunny, just keeps on ticking.
And, I’m grateful for each of you who join me on this wild rollercoaster of a journey, your Love and support give me the strength I need to keep fighting – to keep winning! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. More to come soon… 💗