Well, today we reached the end of the second full chemo treatment. Tami took my empty poison bottle off, flushed my port and took the needle out of my chest this afternoon. (With both of us lamenting the irony of having so many medical professionals in the family and choosing to do all of this ourselves...)
There were a lot of lessons learned this weekend. It wasn't the best weekend, but we did a lot of things differently that made certain parts of it better. We also learned that there are just some things that are beyond our control and that we simply have to learn to manage the best that we can.
Lesson #1 - The second day of chemo is the worst. This is the biggest lesson that we learned...the hard way. During our first chemo, you might recall that I attributed the intense abdominal pain on the second night to my total screwing-up of my nutrition and hydration. This time we had timers, the right liquids and decent nutrition, although I'm still struggling with that one. Unfortunately, none of that helped the afternoon into evening abdominal pain that gave a big middle finger to the pain meds that I'm taking. I told Tami that I had never experienced such constant and intense pain in my life. The best way to describe it is to imagine an elephant spending a good 20 minutes stomping on your midsection and turning everything in it to mush but miraculously not breaking any bones. It's like every organ between your ribcage and groin has been severely damaged and is in intense pain for about 18 hours. It turns into a pretty dark time, so I'm immensely grateful that my parents had the dog AND the kid last night. It would've been hard for Myah to see that.
Lesson #2 - Organization is key! We were so much better this time around than we were two weeks ago. When I needed something, it was there. We didn't have to make do and we didn't fall behind (much). I have a big issue with things that are cold for several days after treatment. I don't remember if I've referenced it before, but it's called Peripheral Neuropathy. On a basic level, it's damage to your nerves starting in the hands and feet and eventually moving to your arms and legs. It manifests as slight tingling to sharp shooting pains depending on the stage that you're in or the items that you touch. Mine is set off by cold things. I can't touch, eat or drink anything even remotely cold for several days after my treatments. Also, going outside when it's cold makes everything freakout. So we stocked up on bottled water and Gatorade that stays out of the fridge. There are gloves by the fridge so I don't have to have people always grab things for me and we have heating blankets on both floors now. :)
Lesson #3 - We need help. There I said it. We discussed the items that needed to be accomplished on chemo weekends and have decided to get a house cleaner for those items. On non-chemo weekends we're good. On chemo weekends, things just get too challenging. So, during my infusion day (every other Friday) we are hiring someone to vacuum, clean the bathrooms and kitchen, dust and do the laundry. This will make the remainder of the weekend, particularly the second day of treatment, so much easier to tackle. We initially resisted, because we felt lazy. But really, it is just going to allow us to function so much better when we really need to.
So, now that we know that second chemo day is just going to be a hard day no matter what, we can set better expectations and be even better prepared. There were more lessons learned, but these were the big three. I'm still working on nutrition, and I don't see that getting any easier anytime soon. My nutritionist had a very honest talk with me on Friday. She made it very clear that, as my body works to repair itself, it will gladly take protein from my muscles to fix what I'm killing with the chemo. That means that as I lose weight, it's not the fat that I WANT to lose, it's the muscle that I can't afford to lose. That gave me some motivation to push through these barriers. Hopefully I'll have some good news on that front next week.
Make sure to support your team whether they win or lose. GO PACK GO!!