Thursday, March 15, 2012

Now I Feel Like I Have Cancer

Rereading that last post I see that true to my grammar warning I've made some embarrassing mistakes ("steak through a vampire's heart"... I hope it was bone-in or frozen.  I assure you the needle went through my skin much easier than a ribeye), this post and all future posts (I'm sure the past ones have them too) will probably have its/their fair share of those same issues.  So know that I see them later on, but I'm too lazy to fix them, and I sort of enjoy the time capsule nature of being able to go back and see just how poorly my brain was functioning at a particular moment.

I can also see that I might have left the impression that I'm in constant misery.  So far each day, even a day like this past monday with the 9 hours of chills and fever, there are several lucid and reasonably pleasant hours when I want to talk, laugh, can enjoy a little food and drink, enjoy a 20 or 30 minute walk with Bica, etc...

But mostly I don't feel good, or normal.  I don't feel like myself.  I probably said this last year during radiation treatment but now I feel like I have cancer.  It's the treatment that makes me feel rough, not the cancer.  And as bad as radiation was, I was still able to run, work an almost full schedule, eat & drink, etc.  Chemo is a whole other beast.  It's not just the more severe side effects like nausea, fatigue, diarrhea.  There are a whole host of other, annoying and uncomfortable side effects that you deal with on a daily basis, even those periods when I feel otherwise pretty good.

One of the strangest side effects is that my sense of taste and smell is so off.  With radiation I had a strong metallic taste in my mouth immediately after treatment, that was awful.  No metallic taste with chemo, but my tastes are completely off.  Things I normally do not eat or have not eaten since I was a kid (american cheese comes to mind) are some of the only things I can eat.  While things I normally love (coffee) I can tell you I'll never have again until well after treatment is finished.  That chicken soup Julie and I made the Sunday before treatment began?  I ate it Monday and Tuesday, and never again.  The very idea of something even as comforting as homemade chicken soup is enough to turn my stomach.  Even writing that sentences is hard for me now, I start to feel nauseated.  There are too many examples to list, but for whatever reason some foods that you might think would cause me problems (milk and dairy products) go down fine.  I've continued to enjoy milk and cheese (well american cheese anyway) with almost every meal.

The sense of smell is even more bizarre.  Everything I smell seems to be coated in a thin layer of years old cigar smoke.  It's like everything that comes near my nose has been sitting in an old cigar bar waiting for me to pick it up.  Clothes, skin, blankets.  This smell/sensation was much worse during the week of full chemo, it's lessened this week, so it must be from the etoposide or cisplatin and not the bleo.

One constant side effect since this began has been that I don't wake up normally either.  Overnight or just a nap, I might sleep peacefully but prior to waking I have this sort of twilight period where (no dreams that I can remember) I'm fighting to get up.  It's frightening and confusing, I'm flailing around and making muffled sounds (according to Julie).  In fact last night I elbowed her in the face when I was startled waking up during one of these episodes.  Julie's fine, I should note, luckily she was barely inside my elbows reach.  I felt (and feel) terrible about it though (happy birthday Julie!).  Every time I sleep this sort of jerking around happens, and since I now sleep in shifts it's happening 3-4 times a day.

Those are some of the stranger side effects. But there are a host of others.  My skull (which has yet to lose any hair, although I know that day is coming) is covered in acne like blemishes which are painful and unsightly.  I say acne like b/c I'm not sure if they are really acne, or ingrown hairs, or just sores.  There are no pimple heads on them like a normal zit, but there are a lot of them and it's really uncomfortable.

I also have been getting sores in  my throat every so often.  I have one now and each time I swallow it's slightly painful and makes falling asleep (and staying asleep) difficult.  Sort of like having a sore throat I guess, the first one took about 3 days to heal. I only had two days off before this next one came along, so I might be dealing with these throughout treatment.

Well no one needs to read an entire catalog of my problems, I know, but there are still so many others I can list.  My heart often races along suddenly for a few minutes out of no where.  Sort of a crazy fluttering that then goes away.  Other times I feel like I can't quite control my fingers as I try to type.

Cancer treatment is certainly no fun.  The hell of it all is that these are all just short term side effects and at some point treatment will end and I'll start to feel like myself; but then I'll always live with the fear in the back of my mind of the possible long term side effects.  The scariest of those is a secondary cancer caused by the treatment I'm receiving now.  Extremely unlikely of course, and nothing I should worry about now.  But that's easier said than done.

1 comment:

  1. When I think about what you are going through, what pains me the most is the silly fact that the cancer was (seemingly) painless to you. To the layperson, you were in great health. Now, your make a overt choice to make yourself sick, really sick. It's like bizarro world. The cure for the disease brings your cancer out of the dark into the light. Confusing and scary.

    Love you.