Breast cancer lesson number 51: Where there’s a will, there’s a way

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What would you crave after a steroid-induced sleepless night? A really good shower. What does a PICC line usually prevent you from enjoying? A really good shower. That is, unless you, like me, have a new plastic protection sleeve as part of your chemo kit list! Meet LIMBO.

Ok, so it looks like I am about to enter a radioactive zone. But, as a sleeve for keeping my arm dry, this rather odd tube is pretty effective. And, most importantly, the shower was really good (worth mentioning I did not shower fully clothed, but I don’t think you’d want to see the rest!). I won’t dwell on the fact I am now over-analysing every part of me to make sure nothing is falling off – or the fact I cut my legs shaving for the first time in about a decade.

If I’m honest, the last 24 hours is not something I would like to repeat (only 21 days to go until I have to sadly). I think I have got off lightly so far, but here’s the side effect list. It’s steadily growing…

a)    A nasty bout of nausea lasting from 4.30pm until about 11pm (but my ‘three vomits in a lifetime’ record is still in tact thankfully). We had some emergency extra anti-sickness meds, so these were taken and made me feel a lot better.
b)    A bright red face (maybe hot flush, maybe drug reaction, definitely not temperature). More a source of amusement rather than a pain.
c)     A sleepless night (for me, Duncan and mum). Steroids made me wide awake, but my body was screaming for sleep. Too weary to read or get up. Too bright-eyed to rest.
d)    An ice-cream headache. Easing this morning thankfully.
e)    A dry mouth. I feel like I have consumed two bottles of wine and haven’t drunk any water for days. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
f)     Weird taste sensations. Tea still tastes good, but it feels like it has been diluted down (if that makes sense). The taste is there, but my palate has been suppressed. I know Weetabix tastes like cardboard on a good day, but today it was hideous.

The chemotherapy hangover on its own is not particularly exciting. Add in the continuing effects of surgery and the ‘trying-to-get-comfortable’ game is not particularly pleasant. I roll onto one side in bed and find PICC line. I roll onto my other and the odd sensations in my bad arm and new boob kick in. I lie on my back and my tummy pulls through the body corset. In the end, I ditched the corset in favour of some Bridget Jones-style pants and felt a little better. Thanks to more than 30 wonderful university friends, we have a new mattress arriving today (the last one was given a shelf life of 10 months when I bought it more than a decade ago), so hopefully that will help us as we search for sweet dreams tonight.

Of course, it’s not all bad. I don’t have a temperature. The pink pee is getting lighter. My appetite is still there (even if the food tastes weird). There wasn’t a strand of hair in my sleep cap and I’m even getting chemo tips from the boss. Plus, flat lemonade is really exciting. The weirdest part is just not knowing what to expect next. Thankfully mum and Duncan aren’t staring at me constantly for the next reaction.

Having popped eight pills this morning, I am hoping for a quiet and better day. The queasy drops are working, the baby toothbrush is kind on my mouth, and today’s mission is fresh pineapple (before settling down with a good book and a film).

I’m still smiling. If this is it, I will be very lucky. If it isn’t, I may need to dig a bit deeper and cling on to every bit of positivity I have. Here’s hoping for a better night.

4 comments

  1. Still lemonade is interesting 😃
    Glad to read this and see you’re still strong and positive. Well done Jack

    1. Trust me, I’ll try anything to keep the nausea away. Weird taste in my mouth today, so might be back on the ‘flat’ stuff. Don’t knock it, until you’ve got nasty nausea. Could be a real friend to you Mr B. Hope you and H are doing well and enjoyed your trip. Take care and thanks for following. Means the world to me. J x

  2. Hi there! I’m on the reverse track from you—chemo first, surgery second. The nausea is horrible, but my oncologist, as most do here in Canada, prescribe anti-nauseants prophylactically—you take them before and during and immediately after chemo infusion, and continue to do so for five or so days. I do that, and have only had nausea when I ran a little self-experiment and stopped pills before the five days were up!

    I love your sleeve idea—did you wrangle that up yourself, or was it in your kit like that?

    And mouthsores were very quick to set in after the taste/palate changes, so eat all the fresh pineapple you can now just in case. I couldn’t eat pineapple now if you paid me, it is so acidic.

    I love your blog—you are so positive. I’m slowly reading back to catch up, and may have a question or two for you as my treatment progresses.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story. Sounds like you are a pro when it comes to tackling and overcoming chemo. Always good to hear how others cope with everything. The sleeve came from a company called Limbo and has been a real lifesaver. I don’t know how far they ship, but if you can get over the rather interesting look of them, they are great: http://www.healthandcare.co.uk/cast-protectors.html?gclid=CITvreDbxr0CFUsUwwodumsANQ

      Thanks for the heads up about the mouthsores. Weird taste sensations continue today! On the pineapple chunks and juice.

      Thanks for your kind comments about the blog. Keep following and sharing and do let me know if you have any questions. Would love to help you as you continue on through your journey.

      Take care, Jackie x

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