While struggling with the GI side effects of chemotherapy, I’ve probably thrown out more food than I’ve eaten. Great amounts of food. Either I don’t have the appetite to finish it, or what looked good when I started fixing it lost its appeal before I was finished, or it tasted funny, or I decided it really didn’t satisfy whatever craving I thought I had, or I decided I couldn’t eat another banana if my life depended on it and trashed those remaining.
I quickly developed an insane admiration for other women who endure the same chemo side effects, or much worse, and still manage to run a household and/or hold down a job. And I feel grateful and a little guilty that I’m retired and my sole responsibility in life is to lie around at home following doctor’s orders.
My son offered to clean up my disaster of a kitchen one day and I discovered after he’d gone that he did a better job than I ever have.
My trash cans are filling up two or three times as fast as usual because of all the wasted food, packaging, shopping bags, and assorted sick room detritus. My fridge and pantry are overflowing with food that I might like, that might taste good, that would be good for me, or that I should try to eat. No way I’ll ever eat it all. There’s only one of me here and my appetite approaches normal only one week out of three. My living area is full of items of clothing, pill boxes, latex gloves, drink mixers, and other items proffered by family because they might be something I can use. I feel I’m no longer in control of my own home.
If I’m not careful, my little house quickly starts resembling a sick room because of all the stuff I try to keep within easy reach. Not the best look for a living room when visitors arrive.
I accumulate so many empty Gatorade and Powerade bottles so fast that I’ve started wondering if I could build a shed or house from them. (Never fear, in lieu of a construction project, they all go into the recycle bin.)
I’ve realized a buzz cut doesn’t last forever; whatever hair I have left hasn’t stopped growing. Really need to get the sides and neckline cleaned up again. And I’ve started wondering how much hair I might still have if I hadn’t shaved it. Would a Mohawk have worked? But then I’d still have that longer hair falling out …
Early on I started keeping a detailed log of everything I eat, every pill I take, and every symptom and reaction I have, because the doctor and nurses ask and I can’t possibly remember all the details, times, sequences, etc. It’s proven very helpful, if a bit neurotic and hypochondriacal. I can look back and see exactly when something happened in Cycle 1 and Cycle 2, and be pretty sure Cycle 3 and 4 will be the same (or hope fervently they won’t be). Or see what foods disagreed. Or what medicine seemed to help. And when. Or when I finally started feeling better again.
My dog, totally dependent on my daily routine for hers, has been bewildered as my routine of years has been completely disrupted. Gone. Out the window. The only routine now is no routine. For example, she usually doesn’t eat unless and until I do. Now she’s torn between her hunger, the old normal mealtime schedule, and my new whenever-I’m-hungry schedule. And you know how dog’s muzzles tend to lighten and turn gray as they age? I’ll swear hers was lighter when I got home from the hospital.
I take so many different pills that I’ve occasionally reached a point where I can’t even look at them, much less attempt to swallow them. At least not right then.
I’ve wondered why we hear so often about “cancer survivors” as though they’re a special class but rarely “stroke survivors,” “heart attack survivors,” or survivors of other diseases. I don’t feel I’m part of a special class. I’m just doing what I have to do to beat the disease I happen to have. Maybe after another 10 months of treatment, I’ll feel differently.
A standard-sized bandana can be folded in a way that offers full head covering, despite what you may have read (you don’t need a 30″ square). The trick is to not fold it exactly in half but to leave one “half” long enough to extend over the top of your head and tuck under the knot in back. A few other tucks here and there and you’re done. Not exactly high fashion. But it’s cheap, and who doesn’t have at least one bandana lying around?
The jury is still out, but the dietitian last week started me on a probiotic, VSL#3. Never been an advocate of probiotics or using them to sell yogurt (don’t like yogurt anyway, and don’t like people making medicine out of my food or food out of my medicine). And I never liked smoothies or protein shakes with lots of healthy “additives” (icky tasting powders). But when she said this stuff was just a capsule, I agreed to try it. Can’t hurt, might help (I hope) because my gut was a mess last week and needs all the help it can get. Plus there are a few studies out there that indicate VSL#3 can be helpful with my particular problem.