I’ve been putting off writing about chemotherapy because that would make it ever so real wouldn’t it? I would have to actually engage with the reality of the situation instead of stoically soldiering on with my funny quips and anecdotes (you can take my hair but you can never take my quips!) So here we are, shortly after my second round of toxic goodness (oxymoron much?) and things are feeling a little more material, a little less bizarre and out-of-body experience-esque.
So far, and I say so far because who knows what lies ahead, I really do believe I haven’t had things too bad. And for that I am hugely grateful. But there’s a fair bit to be utterly fed up about too. I present to you my ‘what in gods name is going on with my body today?!! list:
- Ohhhh taste buds. How I miss thee. You made food taste like… well, food. The week or so after chemo is a sea of beige. Everything tastes beige. Top tip; slather everything in chilli sauce. Or lemon juice. Or garlic. Unless you have mouth ulcers/fuzz mouth. In which case I’ve been told liquidising everything helps. Mmmm appetising. And before you say ‘well that doesn’t sound that bad, there’s a lot worse side effects’ – yes, there are. But being stripped of sensory enjoyment alongside all of those other side effects is a huge kick in the goolies.
- Gurgling guts. Without being too graphic my insides take a week to decide if they are coming or going. Or both.
- Where is my mind? Honestly. Has anyone seen it? I feel like a fog is shrouding my very being like a third cardigan (currently always wearing two, old lady style). Words escape me. The long string of word things no come from my face opening proper.
- My old friend Insomnia! Sweaty, anxiety driven bouts of disturbed ‘sleep’ interrupted by panic filled, chemical galvanised awakenings.
- Muscular aches and pains with no particular pattern. Which at first I decided to ignore (my pain threshold is so high blah blah). Sigh. I’ll learn eventually.
- Tinnitus. Yes readers, a bizarre one I know. I have very mild tinnitus anyway from idiotic youthful bouts of speaker stack hugging at concerts and the like. But right after a dose of my chemo – SQUUUUUUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. For at least a week.
- Just generally feeling like you’ve been stripped of you va va voom (as Thierry Henry so titillatingly put it), your life essence. Finding yourself staring at the wall with no brain flow for a good 20 minutes. Feeling utterly husk-like.
- And yes, the hair loss (will talk about this more in another post). So far this hasn’t traumatised me at all (unlike my poor mother who goes all wobbly bottom lip when I willy nilly pull tufts out). But, this could be due to the whole dissociation as a coping mechanism thing. Let’s see how I feel when I’m presented with a small Buddhist monk when I look in the mirror.
By week 3 of my cycle most of these have gone or faded (just in time to do it all over again!) But when they do fade, it makes every mouthful of food, every burst of energy, every glass of wine, every stretch, every push up, every step, every breath seem utterly blissful. Almost as though I never realised or appreciated how beautiful all these little things could be. So well done little body, you are a constant source of amazement. *
*and well done to all the staff at the Brighton Cancer Centre. How the hell they manage to stay so warm mannered, smiling and supportive all day is beyond me. I’m still utterly grossed out by sick people. And I am one.