Anyway, this combo of chemo is designed to attack everything from mouth to anus, all your white blood cells, and the nervous system. The side effects are delightful. “First Bite Syndrome” is a condition where every time you take your first bite of food after a break, your saliva glands do an “Animal” (of Muppets fame) drum solo. The pain is wild and intense, but fortunately quick. The issue is, you keep forgetting, so it gets you every time. Then there is the weird affliction to the cold. You cannot handle anything from a fridge – your hands will literally lock up. I can only imagine it’s like having severe arthritis. And then there is the weird muscle spasms – my legs look like they should be in a scene from Alien. Check it out:
This is soooo weird. Then there’s the bleeding nose – never had them before, but every now and again it just starts bleeding, and doesn’t stop. For ages after the chemo you wake up with blood congealed in the nose – bloody, snotty tissues for most of the day. Its disgusting. Oh yes – the steroids are fun – they keep you buzzing for a few days to keep the nausea and inflammation at bay – so night one is always sleepless – handy to have something interesting to keep you going. I recall I had chemo on election night – even that didn’t help me fall asleep! So, as the steroids end, the fatigue hits and you basically crash for a few days. It’s not like being tired – its somehow different – like someone has pulled the plug. The problem is partly that your mind wants to do stuff, but the body doesn’t. Or sometimes, your mind gives up too and you just want to stare into space – not talk, not be talked to. Just sit. It’s probably at this point, while just sitting, you notice your heart beating through your chest. This will be the massive increase in blood pressure. Like the bad diet and lack of exercise isn’t enough, the bloody drugs will give you a heart attack. More pills. Hopefully during all of this the anti-sickness drugs have worked. If not, it’s a living hell. Nausea is simply hideous. Many people not on chemo can relate to it and will know how bad it is. Throw in the rest of the shit and these are the times you are tempted to throw in the towel and throw yourself in front of a train. Although getting to the railway would be too tiring. Hanging? Maybe too complicated for the chemo brain. Oh well, grin and bear it. And then finally, after all this you start to feel a little better – it supposedly takes 8 – 10 days post chemo for your blood cells to replenish, and to start feeling a little more normal. This is lucky, because the next cycle is about to start! So, you get maybe 2 or 3 days a fortnight when you feel ok. That’s a lot of activity (and drinking) to fit into a very short amount of time!!
I see why some people opt out.