29/12/15- Home: I have been so very, very lucky with my first chemotherapy infusion. I feel generally pretty well throughout and for this I am beyond grateful.
In the early days I am unable to tolerate coffee, garlic, olives and wine! The mere thought of these most favoured items makes my stomach heave!
Mushrooms, spinach and pasta, usually part of a staple diet for me have all fallen by the wayside along with most of the other things I would normally enjoy.
Microwavable porridge oats however, go down a real treat!
I am also unable to drink the fresh lemon and ginger tea or the beetroot and orange juices I have become accustomed to since surgery!
I do however have a constant craving for chocolate, cheese, crusty bread and crisps- the latter two not easy with sore mouth and throat but the heart wants what the heart wants and so crisps and crusty bread are what I ever so cautiously continue to cram into my mouth to settle and satisfy my nauseated stomach!
My personal chemo pattern consists of the following stages: coma, hibernation and finally liberation.
The coma lasts till day 5, hibernation till day 12 with liberation bringing up the rear. During these stages I also experience a variety of relatively minor symptoms of my struggling immune system.
This is my take on the way in which chemotherapy works.
The toxic chemotherapy cocktail acts like a band of assassins sent into my body by Field Marshal Oncologist on a shoot now and don’t bother asking questions later, mission.
Trouble is, these ‘guns for hire’ have only been given a very vague description of the target they are after: ‘rapidly growing cells’. Unfortunately this describes both my cancerous cells and a vitally important group of my healthy cells as well! Cells specifically designed to grow and regenerate with haste as part of my body’s incredible, immune defence system and as such I am in no doubt that there will be many innocent civilians taken out in these raids too.
Field Marshal Oncologist however, on balance considers this additional loss as necessary collateral damage.
The main areas where healthy cells are highly active- repairing and reproducing themselves are in the hair and nail bases, the bone marrow, stomach and gut linings and at the exits/entrances to the body: mouth, nose, genitals, urethra, anus and also the skin- your body’s first line of defence.
These orifices and surfaces all work hard to ensure bad bacteria is dealt with before it travels internally and causes infections in and along the routes to places such as the bladder, bowels, throat, chest, lungs, stomach, womb etc.
What this means essentially is that the chemotherapy ‘rebels’ will be taking out my body’s own natural immunity defenders, along with any of my antisocial cancer cells they can find…so I have to help wherever I can…eating cautiously- food that is not out of date, washed and prepared carefully and cooked thoroughly, plenty of rest, avoiding picking up bugs and infections from people, pristine hygiene and orifice patrol!!!
For the latter task I have armed myself with ‘weapons of mass destruction’ also known more commonly as throat wash, haemorrhoid cream, laxatives, antiseptic ointment, Vaseline, antibacterial hand and shower gels, sensitive tooth paste and softer brush…lotions and potions for every orifice and surface in fact!
And as my immunity drops during the second week post chemo, the small scale skirmishes commence!
I develop constipation, painful piles, swollen urethra, labial sores, mouth and throat abrasions all of which I have to say, are very mild and manageable within the grand scheme of things.
Alert-I spring into action.
I am the ‘Home Guard’, only on steroids!!!
I’m on lookout duty ready to stamp out fires as they occur, giving them no opportunity to blaze unattended into raging infernos.
‘Captain Mainwaring’ would have been well proud and by the time I’m due for my next round of chemotherapy all fires have been safely stamped out and I’m ready for round 2!