My third round of chemo was Tuesday. And I’m delighted to report that four days later, my GI tract is still behaving itself. No ongoing attempt to self-destruct. Reducing the Taxotere dosage seems to have worked. Hurray!
But that doesn’t mean there’s been an end to the side effects. It just means that now that I’m not so focused on my gut, I’m noticing other fun things.
Like “chemo fatigue.” It’s very common, almost expected, but I hadn’t taken note of it specifically until yesterday. I woke up and lay in bed aware that I could barely move. I was on my back, not my favorite position, and yet it took me several minutes to summon the strength to roll over. I thought about my breathing and deliberately drew a few deep breaths just to see if I could. I could, but it was a huge effort. Made me very glad that breathing is an unconscious reflex.
I struggled later to find a way to describe it to my doctor and could only come up with lame analogies like “wet noodle.” Then I read on chemocare.com (a great resource, by the way) that many cancer patients describe it as “paralyzing.” Yep, it was just about that bad. And yet I had to get up, get dressed, and get to the cancer center for my scheduled IV fluids. And that was tough. I should have summoned a wheelchair when I arrived, but decided to walk instead. I realized at some point I was using my little old lady waddle — short steps and a wider stance — that I tend to adopt whenever I’m unsure of my footing. The whole experience was pretty unnerving.
Then there’s the fluctuating body temperature. Again, something that took a back seat to the GI problems until now. I get chilled, pile on more clothes, a cap, blankets, etc., and then five minutes later am taking things off because I’m overheated. I guess that would fall under the “flu-like symptoms” that are another side effect of chemo. Along with the occasional sniffles that seem to come out of the blue.
Have I mentioned changes in taste? Lots of foods taste funny; favorite foods don’t taste as they should. I’ve noticed most recently and distressingly that tomatoes don’t taste right. I love tomatoes. Kill tomatoes and there goes salad, salsa, pizza. All kinds of things I’d previously taken for granted. So depressing. Oh, and something I learned today. If you love tacos but your taste buds are betraying you, don’t watch Chef Aaron Sanchez’s show, “Taco Trip.” It’s an exquisite form of torture.
The cough? The cough is still with me. Maybe not as bad as it was, but hard to say. Today is my fifth day on Prilosec and if it’s going to help, it probably should have by now. I’ll keep taking it, and keep crossing my fingers.
If only that were the end of it. But no, it seems there’s been one more fun thing lurking in the wings. I’ve been vaguely aware of it and meaning to ask the doctor about it. Then my daughter-in-law mentioned it Friday and now I’m getting fixated on it. “Hyperpigmentation.” Or in my particular case, what looks like a big age spot (pinky nail size) on my upper lip. I know, I know, “vanity, thy name is woman.” But it’s conspicuous and it won’t be easily covered because of the pre-existing wrinkles. And in truth, there may actually be two more spots there, smaller and fainter (so far). I intend to ask the doctor if it’s permanent, and will hope for the best. But some of what I’ve read indicates that it could be permanent. Damn. The scars are under my clothes. The hair will grow back. The digestion will return to normal. But this … so not fair. And so petty of me to complain.
Sep 20, 2017: Very belated note: The age spots on my lip faded away months ago.