day 1. chemo. mostly felt drunk

OK: this will contain details of bodily fluids but not super gross ones, but mention of super gross ones that are likely to befall me in the next week. and also, medical procedures. needles particularly, and intravenous fluids going in.



ok, day 1 into chemo. after a three day bed wait of nervous anticipation/terror, i’ve now just finished my first full day of chemo.  as most of the doctors advised me, it was not nearly as horrifying as i thought it would be.  i feel mostly drunk. like, the drunk you feel JUST before you stop drinking because you know things are going to get bad, only without the sick feeling because i’m filled with NoPuking drugs.

i smell sort of weird, and i wee a lot.  like, a LOT. they’ve put about three litres of toxic fluid in me.  they have to measure it and check it to make sure my kidneys are ok and i am weeing a LOT, which means weird ‘i have to wee’ calls to the nurses every hour or so.

a lot of the reason i am so zonked out is that i am only on half the steroid dose. the steroids are supposed to keep me awake, but they also make you Very Awake. alert but not alarmed. due to bipolar, it make have been both alert AND alarmed, and fortunately, i’ve just felt really jolly about the whole experience, and done a lot of staring at my hands, giggling at my toy llama, and looking at my cup with overwhelming fascination.  and dopey. i would make either mildly amusing, or significantly irritating company.

the bad thing is, the huge amount of no-sad-things drugs are going to wear off in the next few days and that’s when it’ll get hairy.  i pretty much Will get the trots, and if the chemo is working, the cancer will likely be bleeding. which means… The Saddest Poos Ever.  and the nausea from beyond the dawn of time.  and the ‘yup, body is expelling everything horrific from you, including those silly white blood cells that you really didn’t need’ (no, wrong, you did need them).

the nurses are universally phenomenal, and i really like my doctors, and the intern-doctor (i’m not sure what she is… she’s a doctor, but she helps out my doctor?) she loves rabbits and had a great chat about bunnies. both were pleased by how well i was going. i think? i had a liver related freak out – there was something WRONG. what was wrong? one of my enzymes was marginally elevated.  like, probably within normalish ranges. they are just being careful, and my chemo was fine to go as planned.

the prospect of this continuing for some months is a bit daunting.  but it seems doable – i know it’s going to get continually worse, that it’s going to be a drain, and that i am not going to have anything resembling an enjoyable time. i know that, pretty much, most of my life is going to change in ways i didn’t understand it would. but today? today is a good day. i don’t know if it is the steroids talking, or the fact that the chemo was so much less horrifying than i thought it would be — but i feel like i am doing something! like there is a good chance that this might work, and i might get to have the resection. and then the recovery. i still feel like something of a burden on people like alex and friends – i am not much use right now, and i feel like no-one signed up for this when they became friends with me. that’s sort of an insane approach, and i know that This Is Life. i feel like i’m winning at Acceptance and Commitment therapy and CBT in relation to cancer today.  give me a week and i’ll be in the foetal position convinced i’m dying again. don’t worry.

the nurses are all baffled when they see me. i look fine, and healthy, and i feel fine and healthy. my bloods (apart from tumour markers) are fine and healthy.  they are baffled as to how i could advanced cancer, and still look and feel and have results like this. no difference, no change, just… well… normal 30 year old woman sort of thing with IBS.  asymptomatic cancer is scary.

the young woman next to me in the ward was my polar opposite.  poor health, did not look well, and was told she pretty much definitely had cancer 2 months ago.  test, after test, after test, couldn’t find the cancer.  she had a PET scan – cancer not found. biopsies – cancer not found. after weeks of this – her pain, her poor health, and there is no indication that she did, in fact, have cancer after all, and the doctors are back at the beginning. no idea at all after weeks in hospital.

she left me some magazines for me too. i hope they find the mystery illness and that she gets better. that to me seems more terrifying than the inability to move forward. she was remarkably resilient though.

current neurotic fear list:

blood clots

heparin shots – and the stupidest thing – the heparin shots REDUCE the risk of clots.  but they sting. like seriously elizabeth? they sting?  i have a piece of metal shoved in my chest, pumping chemicals into my body that are killing my cells.  and i am complaining about a Tiny Needle?  my fears are always about this neurotic though.

my cancer cells are SO SPECIAL that they will not shrink in accordance with chemo.  (no, that’s not true. i am not a special snowflake.  this is proven, normal chemo for bowel cancer).

the very long list of very bad things that might happen to me. at the moment, there’s a few odd ones – my hands are hot, and i am really sweaty. it’s the no-poo-disaster drug, which i’ve probably only got another day out of before the poo-mageddon begins. and then there’s the bowel ulcerating/bleeding. or the heart problems. or the… you seriously don’t want to see the list. then again, i’ve seen the lists for my psych meds. they’re on a par.

on the upside – the hospital has free wifi and my little sub room has a great chair and the patient in the other half of my room is a lovely Scottish woman named Pat who is a hero and is a long way into treatment and is a great example of Getting There.  so, yeah.




About elizabeth

various things.
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4 Responses to day 1. chemo. mostly felt drunk

  1. Dani says:

    Action is good. I’ve felt sick with anxiety about things looming over me that I’ve had to do, decisions I’ve had to make, things I’ve had to tell people. It has almost always turned out for me that the doing isn’t as difficult as the anticipating made it seem. We are all incredible in our ability to just do stuff when there is no choice about the doing.

    I’m glad that for now the chemo feels doable, now that that the mystery of it has gone to some extent and it’s fathomably real. Your earlier description of just trudging through this rather than winning some epic battle seemed so apt to me, and you’ve started on the day to day of just doing it. And you know that when you are in the foetal position convinced you’re dying again there are a bunch of people around to help you to trudge through that part of the doing too.

    • veritas says:

      yep. i think it’s like running, or a big big marathon! right now, i have just started and feel fine!!! it’s just a healthy little run at the moment. it’s going to get harder and faster soon — but i have a sense of what it happening, and i can keep going.

  2. It’s great you have good doctorish and nursing support staff there. They’ll be there when you need to lean on them. They are a good mob. Be brave, be funny, be unbrave and sad. Whatever works.
    Thinking of you.

    • veritas says:

      great people. lots of leaning. today’s definitely not as easy as yesterday, and tomorrow’s going to be a bit crusty i think! but thank you so much for your thoughts.

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