It’s getting more and more difficult to talk myself into going through these treatments and this last one was the hardest so far.
I started to feel bit a little queasy the night before chemo which has never happened before. I didn’t think much of it and blamed it on my dinner because I had taken my sister and niece out for pizza. This was the first time I had eaten pizza in a very long time. I was following a strict vegan diet for about 7 months before I got sick. Vegan=no cheese. Maybe I’ll talk about that more another day. Anyway, that night I felt like I needed to get out of the house and eat some comfort food to pump me up for treatment the next day, so that’s exactly what I did.
Thinking I would be feeling better in the morning, I got up and got my bag packed with my laptop, charger, medicine, and some granola bars to munch on. On chemo days, I spend anywhere from 4-7 hours in the hospital so I try to bring things to keep me busy. This day was going to be one of the longer days- around 7 hours. Unfortunately, I started to not feel so well once again as my mom and I were driving to the hospital. I remember telling her, “I really don’t want to do this.” In that moment, I would’ve done anything to not have to go, but looking back, that was the best I felt all day. I slept almost the entire ride there.
Walking into the hospital only worsened my feelings of nausea. Thinking of anything chemo related would make me feel like I was going to actually get sick so I tried to distract my mind by thinking of other things, but how do I not think of chemo in a hospital full of cancer patients? I kept my mind busy the best I could.
When I go to these treatments I first have to get blood work done. After, I meet with my doctors and talk about all the new symptoms I experienced with the previous treatment (so far, every dose has brought along some new side effects to add to this already long list). Lastly, I go into my chemo “suite.”
Talking to my doctors that day was really hard. Don’t get me wrong, I love my oncology team, but at that moment, I guess just talking to anyone was hard. This was especially true since my doctors specifically talk to me about chemo which is what I was trying to avoid thinking about. I felt myself growing more and more anxious, getting more and more sick, and just overall feeling really bad. We had talked for quite some time, but just when the PA was about to leave, I brought up how I was feeling because it was almost unbearable by this point. I asked her if it was normal to actually feel sick before I even had chemo. She said it was and went into a long explanation which I think I unintentionally tuned out. All I was thinking is “I hope she leaves soon because I can’t talk about this anymore.” I felt my face getting hot, my heart starting to race, and tears swelling behind my eyes. She looked at me funny and asked if I was ok. I was barely able to nod my head yes. She gave me a concerned look and left. I bolted to the door and behind me I could hear my mom ask, “are you really ok?” This time I shook my head no and went into the first bathroom I could find. I closed the door and leaned against it while a steady flow of tears streamed from my eyes. I let myself cry for what felt like an eternity, but a quick rush of panic went through me when I realized I didn’t want to walk around the hospital with a tear-stained face and puffy eyes. I wet a paper towel with cold water and put it on my eyes. I think I read about this trick in one of those teen magazines when I was in middle school, but I found out that day that it doesn’t work.
I walked out of the bathroom and my mom told me it was going to be ok. We went to the chemo waiting area and eventually got called in for treatment. It took every bit of energy I had to walk into that room. Everything I was looking at and hearing was showing my body that I’m getting closer and closer to having this poison injected into me and my body was making it known that it was not happy about it.
I sat down and asked the nurse for something to use in case I got sick. She brought me a plastic bucket, an extra pillow, and another blanket. They told me I could lay back and sleep during treatment and to me, sleeping was the only way to not have to think about what was happening. I think I fell asleep within 5 minutes.
I woke up, minutes before treatment was over, to my mom reminding me about taking a picture with my countdown sign. If my dad hadn’t put so much effort into making it I might have even skipped the picture this time (Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t though). She handed me the sign and I somehow managed to force a smile on my face. Usually I post the picture while I’m still in the hospital and before I start feeling sick, but I didn’t even look at these pictures until the next evening and even then I didn’t want to post it. You can just see in my face that I wasn’t my normal self. You can tell I was tired and just overall didn’t look good. I didn’t even have the energy to put makeup on that day! But, I promised to keep it real with everyone and that picture was about as real as it gets… well besides maybe adding a filter 😉
As soon as I got home from the hospital I went straight to bed and didn’t get up for a full 24 hours and even then, I was only up for a maybe an hour or two. I had my usual symptoms plus a new one (I told you, I get at least one new symptom every time!). This time I added neuropathy, or tingly hands and feet, to the list. I also looked a little more into the nausea and anxiety I was dealing with prior to this treatment. Apparently it has a name and it’s a pretty common thing. Taken straight from the American Cancer Society’s website:
So not only is chemo making me sick, just the thought of it makes me sick. It’s a constant mental battle that I feel like I can’t win. Oddly, the “anticipatory” nausea is still an issue for me even a week after my treatment and over a week before my next one. Just last night, my mom mentioned the word “ice” to my dad and I instantly felt queasy. The feeling lasted for hours. Why ice? The nurses make me chew on ice chips during treatment to prevent mouth sores so I guess now my body associates hearing the word “ice” with chemo. I didn’t even know that was a word that bothered me until it brought back all of those feelings again.
I have been looking into ways to deal with the anticipatory nausea and if I find something that works I’ll share it here in case anyone else is dealing with it. If you know of something that may help, please comment below. I’m willing to try anything at this point.
If you know me, you know I can’t just talk about negative things all the time so here’s some good news- my doctors have agreed to give me a longer break between treatments this time! It’s a mental break for me and as you may imagine, it’s very much needed right now. To take advantage of this, my family and I are going on a short vacation next week to Long Beach Island. We are all really excited!
Also- stay tuned for my PET scan results. I’m hoping I’ll have some great news to share by the end of the week 🙂