Chemo is kicking my ass this week

I suppose I should be grateful that it took four sessions for chemo’s full-force to hit.

All those pointless positivity cards would tell me to look on the bright side, that at least I made it through halfway relatively unscathed.

But it is hard to find any gratitude when you’re in so much pain.

For the first three chemo cycles I was on FEC and I dealt with it better than I could have hoped. The steroids and copious amounts of ginger tea, did I mention I don’t like ginger?, kept nausea to a minimum, regular cat naps meant I could stay awake most of the day and I knew that I had to crawl to a snail’s pace when walking up hills if I stood any chance of making it to the top.

So far, so bearable.

Before starting chemo I had a few people tell me it wouldn’t be as bad as I was expecting it to be. Of course, they had to be lying. A little white lie to allay some of the terror of what was ahead.

But then waddayaknow, it turns out it was bearable. Not pleasant, but bearable. There was no throwing up in a bucket, collapsing at the supermarket or weeping mouth ulcers. I would cross my fingers when someone asked me how I was doing and reply, “surprisingly ok.” Just in case I ran out of luck.

I felt guilty, like I had cheated chemo. If all these side effects hit others so hard, then how did I escape them?

Then on Friday I switched to Docetaxel and my luck ran out.

I knew about the potential bone and joint pain, but the side effect I was most scared of was losing my nails. Right now though, I would gladly give up all my nailbeds to get my body back.

I feel like an old woman.

On Monday I could barely make it from the bed to the couch, on Tuesday I physically couldn’t get out of bed.

It felt as if my limbs were leaden and I was attempting to drag them through thick, gloopy honey. I knew what I had to do to make them move, but going through with it was just too hard. The trek from the couch to the bed was so arduous I slept for an hour to get over it.

My biggest achievement yesterday was summoning the strength to shower at 3pm. Even then, I had to sit down halfway through.

I was so sore, so heavy that I was genuinely surprised to look down and see that my skin was still smooth and white. I expected to discover big, blotchy bruises all over. How could my insides be screaming at me while my outsides were just fine?

Today I’ve managed to stand in the shower and I’ve even left the house, my legs wobbling down the stairs as if this was a new activity they were doing it for the first time.

And I have The Boy to thank for that. My painkillers weren’t touching the sides, so he suggested I call the chemo nurse, who faxed a prescription for Endone to my pharmacist.

Genius. If only I had thought about that yesterday. Guess I can add chemo brain to my new list of side effects.


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16 thoughts on “Chemo is kicking my ass this week

  1. Wow, that sounds totally shit. I guess if anything, you feel less guilty at skipping the symptoms now??? Pray you’re feeling a mite better today, big hugs xo

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  2. Oh yuck docetaxol is the pits. I had the same reaction to FEC as you and thought I was doing well. On docetaxol everything fell apart for a week after each dose. Warm baths with epsom salts helps a little . Pain relief and sleep will be your life for a little while. My GP told me that it was good I was sick as it meant the chemo was working. (Helped a little) Hang in there and get all the help you can. Sending hugs.

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    1. It’s like they give you the easy drug first to lull you into a false sense of security and you think, “Hey, it’s not too bad, I can do this.” And then just as you’re getting comfortable with it, they slam you with the really shit drug.
      I’m six days in now and starting to feel a bit better. Endone working like a dream, will try the baths and epsom salts next time. I was avoiding hot baths as I’m scared it will kick off lymphoedema, did you have any reactions?

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  3. Damn. I’m really sorry it is so crap. I’m hoping like you did that Docetaxol will be as bearable as FEC but now I’m not keeping my hopes up! Hope the pain killers help. I already have tramadol here so am kind of prepared.

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    1. I’m on endone rather than tramadol, so not sure how strong it is, but would recommend having the strong drugs within easy reach. I’m kikcking myself that I waited a few days before asking for them.
      I don’t want to scare you, but days three and four after docetaxel were the worst. If you can get through them with lots of sleep, drugs and baths according to these comments, it will be ok.

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  4. Bleh. Can I just say I know EXACTLY how you feel, as annoying as it is when people say that. I did FEC-D and it’s just the worst. I never want to tell people how bad it is because I don’t want to scare them, but I’ve read so many stories just like yours where you’re sailing along and then BAM. It is an awful drug and I had the most terrible time with it 😦 I say that not to scare you but so that you know you’re not alone and that it will all get a lot better soon. My best friends during that time were imodium (not sure if that’s an issue for you!), warm baths, my couch, and heavy drugs.

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    1. I actually like it when people say that Steph, as long as they really know what they’re talking about instead of just trying to make me feel better. And seeing as I’m also on FEC-D I’d love any advice you can pass on.
      I was hesitant about posting this, because I don’t want to freak people out, but on the other hand if I had known how bad it was going to be I would have had the really strong drugs handy and ready to go.
      I haven’t needed immodium yet, I was warned about constipation instead. All over the heavy drugs and my couch, but steered away from baths because of potential lymphoedema side effects. Did you have any issues with that?

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      1. I didn’t, but I only had sentinal nodes removed, so very low-risk for any lymphedema. And I also don’t think that was even on my mind, I just needed the pain to stop!

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      2. Fair enough, the pain is a bitch. But at the same time I don’t want to add another ailment to my already long list, so trying to avoid lymphoedema.

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  5. I had no problem with lymphodema (yet) and I had all my nodes removed . I kept the bath warm not hot and soaked and soaked for the pain. I have always been a water baby so it was really helpful. Pain killers that helped me sleep were also a necessity.

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    1. I’m eating as well as I can, but staying away from supplements at the moment. I’ve been told that there are quite a few ingredients that can interfere with chemo, so playing it safe.

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  6. Omg I feel for you I also had FEC but bang within 2 hours my head was in a bucket had to get the doc out for an injection then slept for 3 days. Woke up.to a raging temp taken into hospital with an infection. Had to be put on strong sickness tablets that had to be taken a hour before even chemo session then for 2 days after. Then my veins gave up so had a PICC line put in,also had blood clots 1 in my neck and 3 in my leg. Hey that’s not all had 2 stop chemo as my.liver was failing so know I’m waiting for Radiotherapy.

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    1. And I thought I was getting my ass kicked, it was nothing compared to what you endured Sarah.
      Starting radiotherapy in a few weeks too, something else to look forward to.

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