Chemo & Gas

Guess what this post is about?

It’s about gas.

Farts.

Everybody does it, so why can’t we talk about it?

I posted in the beginning about chemo brain, how I didn’t know if it was a thing, but if it wasn’t it should be. (And for the record, it totally is a thing that people going through chemo understand, and those close to them understand as well.) Well, the same goes for chemo farts. I don’t know if they’re a thing, but if they’re not they should be.

And they’re terrible!!!!!

This cycle they were the absolute worst though. I think I nearly killed Brad a few times. It’s not intentional, it just happens.

Something to understand…when you’re dealing with the lower digestive issues I’ve been dealing with, you have to be super careful when passing gas because there’s always the chance that it’s not gas.

Some of Brad’s wisest words were, and still are, “If you have the squirts, don’t fart.” Maybe not something someone should be memorialized for, but it’s very good advice nonetheless.

But yeah, chemo farts.

It’s a thing. A terrible, terrible thing.

And there’s not a thing you can do about it either!

It’s been a while!

Happy New Year!!

Sorry I haven’t checked in since before Christmas. I was chemo sick during the holiday and haven’t had much new stuff to report.

I can say that I didn’t have the texture issues with food that I have had in previous cycles, with the exception of potatoes last week. I had steak fries at lunch on Friday when we went out for Brad’s birthday, and the texture of the fries felt gritty and gross. Same problem with McDonald’s fries when Brad and I were road-tripping. I’ve been avoiding French fries ever since. Probably not entirely a bad thing, but I can’t say I’ll never eat another French fry again. Ha. Right.

All in all, the fatigue this cycle has been brutal as always, and I’ve had this insane sinus garbage going on. The sinus issues are causing an evil post-nasal drip that will not go away, and subsequent dry cough, particularly in the AM and late PM. I tried a humidifier, and I’m not sure if the humidifier doesn’t work, or if the humidifier just isn’t helping. So there’s that. I’ve also tried a variety of meds. Most alleviate some, but not all, of the symptoms, so it’s just not worth it to take them. I have enough of a cocktail going on.

I took the generic Prilosec for heartburn this time around, and it either worked or I didn’t have heartburn, at least not in the beginning of the cycle. I started taking it the evening of chemo as sort of a preventative measure, and like I said, it either worked or I never had the heartburn, which works for me either way. I did have heartburn a couple days ago, and a combination of Tums and Prilosec knocked it out. Yay.

Diarrhea is still super present. It’s been the one constant through this entire experience. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I’m finally regular again. It has become the new normal for me to be irregular, but I’ve learned how to manage and alleviate some of the less than desirable things associated with diarrhea (which, let’s get real here, is pretty much everything associated with diarrhea). Vaseline is my best friend. I even bought one of the small tubs (normally used as lip gloss) to keep in my purse for emergencies.

My last chemo is January 8th. I’m super excited for that part of this journey to be over and done with. I’ll still have to go for injections for the hormones, and I’ll find out the schedule for that on the 8th, but the days won’t be as long and the side effects won’t be as bad (except for the hot flashes, yuck!).

I hope everyone reading has had a nice holiday season! Despite feeling utterly crappy on Christmas, I had a nice day. And despite falling asleep before midnight last night, I had a nice evening yesterday as well.

The Crappiness Has Set In

I’ve struggled this week, mornings in particular. Sore throat, low grade fever, stuffy nose, runny nose, stomach issues…it’s almost over.

Almost. Over.

This is the beginning of hell week for me, and it’ll last about another week. Then I have one more cycle of chemo and it’s all over.

There will be other issues then, I’m sure. Surgery, recovery, etc.

I feel like those problems will be nothing though, compared to all this chemo sick.

I got satin sheets. My chemo nurse this week suggested trying them for the hot flashes since they tend to be cooler than cotton sheets. I’m laying on top of them, having a hot flash, so we’ll see about that.

Something funny I remembered about chemo day this week…I sat next to a nice lady who also has breast cancer, hers is triple negative. We claimed the space between us as a neutral zone. Anyway, moments after we introduced ourselves, like less than two minutes, I forgot her name, and she was calling me Amy.

It was kind of a relief to actually experience a fellow chemo brain.

Duh… (& hot flashes)

I spent a few minutes today looking for my phone that was in my hand. I was at chemo, and wanted to post something snarky, but by the time I found my phone (smh), I forgot what I wanted to say. So I figured I’d just say: “Hey! Today is my second to last chemo treatment! Woohoo!” Then I forgot to post it…

The chemo brain is strong with this one!

Aside from that, I’m doing well but super tired!

I may have mentioned that my liver numbers were a little high at my last chemo appointment. Well, they’re still a little high. So Dr YB reduced my taxotere dosage, as that can sometimes be a side effect. So we’ll see if that changes how I feel this cycle since taxotere is the nasty one. It would be nice since Christmas falls right smack in my bad week, so it would be cool to feel not as bad.

It was a long day, but I chatted with my recliner neighbor and listened to a book on tape, then did some word games and puzzle books. Tomorrow I’ll go for my Neulasta shot, and I don’t have to go for one week labs next week since my white and red cell counts have remained well throughout treatment. Score! One less thing to do the week of Christmas!!

After the Neulasta shot, the next thing I have to do is chemo on January 8th!

Oh! And I did talk to them about the evil hot flashes. Since my liver numbers are rising, the doc didn’t want to add any news meds to the ever growing cocktail I already have, as that can make those numbers worse. As it is, post-chemo I’m taking meds for: heartburn, nausea, and diarrhea, plus a steroid and Claritin for the Neulasta bone pain. And then I have other meds to take for more random symptoms that may pop up. It’s bananas, but I get it. So I’ll deal with the hot flashes. They’re a result of the hormones, since I’m basically in an induced menopause. Once I come off the chemo on January 8th, I’ll be continuing some hormone maintenance stuff until September. So once the chemo stops and the side effects slow down and those liver numbers go back up, we can look at treating the hot flashes.

I can’t really complain, I mean I’ve finally found fixes for most of what I’m experiencing, except the fatigue, lightheadedness, and hot flashes. It could be worse!

Ok, I’m going to crash! Have a great evening!!

Tonight, We Waxed

If you remember my first hairless photo and corresponding blog post, you’ll remember that I was left with a bit of a buzz (or click here for a recap).

So I’ve been living with the buzz for a while now, slowly losing some of the little spikes, occasionally using tape to rip some of them out…but nothing was really doing it and it has been getting more and more frustrating. Mostly because the same problem is present now that was present when I finally lost all patience and decided to shave my head in the first place. They hurt! The follicles are getting irritated because they want the hair out and that results in soreness, particularly when I lay down to go to sleep and my head hits the pillow and rubs against it, thus irritating the follicles.

I’ve officially had enough.

Today, Brad and I hit Ulta searching for the perfect wax. And seriously, visiting Ulta in a busy shopping center one week before Christmas was not the smartest idea, but fortunately it wasn’t too horrendous.

There was a sale, so we bought three kinds to try. One is a sugar something, one is strips, and one is a gel.

I got the strips to try on my legs. I can’t remember if I mentioned this or not, but I shaved my legs around the time of my first chemo. The hair grew back a tiny bit and has been that way ever since. I’ve read some cancer blogs and websites and all of them say not to shave after the hair loss starts because it will be harder for the hair to fall out and that will cause irritation. Well, I’m currently getting occasional bumps on my legs where the shorter hairs are, sort of like razor burn, so I was looking for an alternative. I know waxing is a long shot because the hair is so short, it would be hard for anything to grasp it and pull, aside from a tweezer (I am not going to tweeze my legs – no way!). Anyway, the strips didn’t work at all. I even tried them on Brad to see if it was just me, and they didn’t work on his fur either. So wax strips – waste of money.

Next I tried the natural hair removal gel on a small patch on my head. Victory! Of course, I have some stubborn hair (it has always been stubborn, might as well be stubborn in the end, too). Not all of it came out in the first round, so we’ll have to do another, but it has worked beautifully. I’m impressed.

I did some spots in the front, Brad did some spots in the back, and it’s progress.

I may try it on my legs when I’m done with my head, just to see, but I’m pretty sure I’m SOL with my legs since the hair is so short. I just don’t think it’s going to catch. I wish I had read ahead, or someone had told me, don’t shave!! That’s such a huge piece of advice!!

Anyway, chemo is tomorrow! Only one more after this. 😁

Chemo Pimples :-/

I thought I got over breakouts when I exited puberty.

Well, that’s a lie. It seems I have never been completely without breakouts, but they certainly haven’t been puberty level bad in a long, long time…like 20 years a long time.

Until now.

Thank you, chemo. Thank you for the chemo pimples.

What is a chemo pimple? I’ll tell you. (And no, I promise this isn’t going to be a gross post…well, any more gross than talking about pimples is in general.)

So, chemo pimples sort of look like regular pimples, only they are hard and they hurt and they can’t really be popped. They feel like a little grain of sand under the skin. And they are little red devils from hell.

And they turn up everywhere!

I have them on my face, my forehead, my head, the back of my neck, my back, my chest…everywhere.

They show up near the end of week two, beginning of week three, of each of my chemo cycles, so about 2 weeks post-chemo.

They don’t respond to acne treatment, these mutant chemo pimples. And I have tried to pop them, but even if I make progress on that front, nothing really happens. They don’t go away.

It figures they show up right when I start to feel well enough to rejoin society.

Concealer, foundation, scarfs looooooow on my forehead…

Gah!

I mean come on, chemo…..we’re already bald, pale, and generally feel like garbage, gotta make us pizza faces, too?

So there…that’s my rant for today. ❤

For sticking with me, how about a free book? Click here.

Peanut Butter is Kind of Cool

Why, you ask?

Because it kind of, sort of, almost (but not entirely) masks the metallic taste in my mouth the week after chemo.

So, one of the other side effects that irks the heck out of me is the metal mouth taste. It ruins the taste of food and is all together unpleasant.

I noticed the other day that when I’d eat Reese’s Puff cereal, don’t judge, the metal taste wasn’t as persistent. It was still there, but it was covered up a bit. So I proceeded to eat the heck out of the cereal. First, it tastes like it’s supposed to, and second, it kind of hid that metallic taste. Win, win.

Of course, I can’t whip out a bowl of Reese’s Puffs every time I want to get rid of that taste, and (unfortunately) it doesn’t really have a lasting effect on the metal mouth.

What’s the alternative? Peanut butter! Straight peanut butter. Right out of the jar, with a spoon. Yummo.

Again, it doesn’t eliminate the taste, but it masks it pretty well. And the straight peanut butter is thick enough that it lasts a bit longer than the Reese’s Puffs taste. It helps before bed, because there is nothing worse than trying to sleep with a metal taste in your mouth!!

And mouthwash, gum, Biotene, etc. does not help at all. If anything, mint makes it worse. So I do brush before bed, but after rinsing that mint taste out, I opt for the peanut butter chaser!

Hot Flashes Suck

One second I’m cold, the next I’m hot. One minute I’m comfortable, the next I’m crawling out of my skin.

Hot flashes might be one of the most annoying chemo side effects.

Why? Why is something that seems so non-evasive in comparison to other side effects so obnoxious?!

Well, for one, because they happen all. the. time. All the time. Day, night, awake, asleep, home, out, etc. All. The. Damn. Time. And the lovely weather here in South Carolina isn’t freaking helping. The temperatures fluctuate between 50 and 70, day and night.

Should we have the heat on? The AC? Nothing? Fans? Blankets? What thickness of blanket? Sleep pants, a night shirt, shorts? It’s so uncomfortable! What I think will work might work for about 20 minutes, then I need a complete readjustment. Then by the time I’m comfortable again, my stupid internal temperature shifts and I need something else. But it’s like I don’t have the hot flash until I’ve adjusted myself, until it can be considered inconvenient. “Oh what perfect timing for a hot flash!” said no one ever.

So yeah…layers. Lots and lots of layers. Day clothes, pajamas, and even bed sheets. Everything must come in layers.

Bronchitis?!

As if I need more medical excitement in my life.

So yeah, my cold-like symptoms have persisted and yesterday Brad called the oncologist for me (I had completely lost my voice) to see what I could take to alleviate the coughing, congestion, etc. They said it sounded viral, and recommended I call my primary care doc. So I went to the nearby Roper St. Francis Express Care (a super nice doc-in-a-box type place that is also networked with my oncologist-added bonus is that it’s like 2 minutes from my house).

So now I have cough syrup and an antibiotic to add to my medicine cabinet. The antibiotic is sort of preventative. Bronchitis is viral, so an antibiotic is typically not needed, but I’m a special case and we take added measures.

Oh yeah, and when I went for my CBC blood draw on Monday, everything was fine (why we knew none of the sick stuff was due to an infection). Since I was feeling pretty blah and not getting a lot of fluids in me from being sick and having diarrhea, I got some fluids while I was there.

So yeah…coughing, no voice, still have that horrible post-chemo taste in my mouth (and I’m salivating like crazy, which is just great with that taste!), I’m doing fabulously!

It’s also raining outside, which sounds wonderful. I love to listen to the rain.

So I’m hoping I feel well enough to go to class tonight, but we’ll see. I can’t take the cough medicine and drive, so there’s that. I also can’t speak…

Saturday I’m heading to Columbia for a book signing! I’m super excited since I couldn’t go to the one last weekend, so I’m hoping I feel at least 80%! We’re just planning to go for the day, which is no big deal since it’s only a little over an hour away.

What else is new? Nothing really that I can think of. I’ve been binge watching Sex and the City on Amazon Prime video. I also joined Passionflix, a Netflix type service that’s making some romance novels into movies! I watched Hollywood Dirt, Which was written by Alessandra Torre, and Afterburn Aftershock, which was written by Sylvia Day. Well, the books were written by them, not the movies. They were pretty good! I read Hollywood Dirt, and the movie was pretty true to the book. I haven’t read Sylvia Day, so I don’t know how well it translated. Anyway, the service offers one new book to movie a month, and there are some more good ones in the works! There is also a small library of some other romance movies available to watch while you wait for the new releases.

I’ve also been playing a heck of a lot of Song Pop 2. A heck of a lot.

The first few sick days I’ve had to take off were kind of nice, like a little vacation from reality, but I was still sick so it wasn’t exactly fun. But now I’m feeling the ants in my pants start to dance. Boooored. I’m probably going to take a nap so I don’t have to taste this awful taste in my mouth…

(I’ve tried soooo much to mask it, and there’s just nothing! Mints, Listerine, toothpaste, food, drink, Biotene, etc. If you have a recommendation, bring. it. on!)

Jinx!

I knew it. I knew I’d jinx myself talking about how awesome I felt. 

I started to go downhill on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, I guess. It’s when the fatigue really hit. I woke up miserable. I was able to work my second session and go to class, though I probably should have stayed home. Friday, I met with a classmate for an assignment at the library in the morning. We worked on it all day, and after that, I was pretty much done for. I made it home and crashed in my bed. 

I spent the evening and overnight hours monitoring a low fever, the highest it reached was 100.2. If it hit 100.5, then I have to call the doc. It didn’t, thank goodness. 

I have felt like crap most of the day. Pretty sure it’s a just cold that has hit me like a freight train. Lots of coughing, runny nose, headache, and body aches. I laid low with soup and sleep today, some Tylenol. 

My appetite has been fine, and I haven’t had any other chemo side effects, at least not at the moment, so we’ll see how the rest of the cycle goes…maybe it’s just a cold after all.