Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Today is chemo day, and I've spent remarkably little time thinking about what to wear. Not sure what that means. It will be my first deliciously fragrant infusion in Hershey's new cancer center It has WiFi, so there is a chance you may see me on the interwebz (however, it also has cable, and I'm really hoping Bravo will be showing the deliciously trashy looking NYC Prep or Miami Social).

Also, I have to take steroids on the day before, day of, and day after my treatment. While I have yet to experience 'roid rage (settling merely for 'roid 'rritation), it does screw with my sleep, and therefore writing, habits. If you see extra typos or things that don't make sense, just imagine me whipping out the cancer card.

So, onto Week 2 (electric bugaloo) after the infusion.
I'd say that Week 2 is a misnomer (which is sad because I came up with it, but, well, cancer card), because it really starts around Day 5 after treatment. By Day 5, most of the nausea/stomach yuck, fatigue, and weird limb fire has abated, and we get into the really strange side effects. Without the fatigue to sideline me all of the time, these side effects tend to have less impact on my daily life, which is nice. However, they tend to be much more unusual and grosser than the Week 1 side effects. Since I love gross things, I thought I'd describe them for you.

First gross side effect - oral thrush, the yeast infection for your mouth! Apparently, this is one of the most common side effects of immunosuppression. Essentially, my wacked out body can no longer keep my oral flora in check, so yeast (which lives in everyone's mouth, including yours, right now) decides it's time to subvert the dominant paradigm and make its move for supremacy. Which hurts. A lot. When I was in the hospital that time, they kept telling me about how scary shingles are and how I needed IV antibiotics so I didn't die, and my only thought was, "Can you please give me something for this thrush?" Thrush can spread to your esophagus, which causes a quick, gross, and painful death. Unfortunately, I can't really gargle with Monistat (boys, those are the commercials you look away from when you watch Grey's Anatomy with your lady), but I do have some antifungal pills I can take now.

Second gross side effect - sores on the inside of my nose. I have NO idea what this is about, but it's happened twice now. I'll give you an update on it if it's particularly gross or weird after I've talked to my doctor to get the 411. Basically, I just get sores all along the inside of my septum. They are bloody and crusty, and they sit right inside my turbinates (those little flappy things that are right on the inside of your septum), and the crust rubs up against the tubinate every time I move my nose. They are more irritating than painful, but make me fidget with my nose a lot (which is classy). Reading the internet, which is ALWAYS a good idea when looking for medical information, seems to suggest it's a side effect of Avastin, one of the drugs I take for my clinical trial.

Third gross side effect - hair loss. So, you mostly know about this one. I started losing my hair on Day 15 after my first treatment and it stabilized around Day 18. The weird thing is that it happened again on Day 15 of this cycle. This is AWESOME! My hair was already a lost cause, but now I have even less leg hair to shave. Someone on one of the boards I post on was saying that she works in a cancer center and a lot of people's body hair never recovers, while their head hair does. If I can get out of cancer with smaller boobs and no leg hair, it will have all been worth it. If you are the praying type, this is the ultimate goal.

I'd like to talk about the hair loss thing because I've been having "feelings" about it. As many of you know, I'm not generally one of those people who has a lot of "feelings," but somehow I manage to soldier through. Many of these feelings, such as feeling conspicuous and unattractive, are pretty normal and just need some time and working through. However, one feeling has really surprised me, so I thought I'd share it. When the wind blows through the sparse stubble on my head, it is the most amazing sensation ever. Twice, I've caught myself lying in bed feeling sad that so many people never get to have the wind flow through their stubble and wondering if there is a way to induce the same level of thin stubble without going through chemo so that I can share it. I imagine I'll become less enamored of this once Winter hits, but for now, I really pleased that I've gotten the chance to experience it. Perhaps balding men get to go through the same thing.

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