Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Break" week one

The chemotherapy drugs I'm taking are all inflammatory; the steroids are given to help counteract that. The steroids also made my normally dry skin not like moisturizer for a while, and cleared up the eczema patch on my left elbow that I'd had since July. By Wednesday of this week my skin was liking the body butter again, and on Thursday I found a new eczema patch on my right arm.

My last dose of steroids was Friday night, and by Saturday morning I could tell I'd gone off them: I started to swell up and be tender to the touch along the back of my neck and up along the back of my jaw, along the top back part of my shoulders, down both sides of my spine, and down both sides from my armpits to my hips. This continued to get worse most of the weekend, and on Sunday the worst headache I've ever had in my life was added to the mix. Not realizing how bad the pain from the swelling was going to get, I waited way too long to start taking pain relievers.

The inflammation was better on Monday, and had completely cleared up by Wednesday. I'm not sure if it was my body's reaction to the chemo drugs themselves—so it will be just as bad next time—or if it was caused by the amount of dead tumor cells in my chest—which should mean it would be less severe next round. I guess I'll find out soon enough.

Saturday also saw the start of jaw cramps. If I put anything in my mouth - liquid or solid - the back of my jaw would cramp for a few seconds. The second bite or sip would also cause some cramping, but not as bad. By the third bite or sip, I could eat or drink normally. This annoying effect continued through Thursday.

I've been having lower back pain this week, too. Possibly from sitting on the couch with bad posture so much, and losing muscle tone in my back from not exercising for the past few weeks. I've also been getting a shot every day to help my bone marrow recover, and these can cause bone pain. One of the oncology nurses said the shot might also be the reason for the pain in my lower back.

The fatigue has been just as bad as last week, but I haven't had the need to sleep so much. With my extra time (and now that I've regained most of my range of motion in my right shoulder after having a port installed near there) I started doing some of my easiest workout tapes. They seem to have helped reduce my pain levels, and it feels like an accomplishment to be able to get back more of my normal routine.

Friday I had my hair cut into a pixie style. I'm ambivalent about how it looks, but have been really happy with how low-maintenance it is. I used to enjoy taking care of my hair, but the fatigue the past several weeks had turned it into a chore. I also like that my hair now doesn't move around very much: I had some scalp sensitivity during my chemo week, and am expecting that side effect to be worse next time.

This week has not been as much of a break as I was hoping for. Still, I'm encouraged by how few side effects I've had (I never have been nauseous, for example) and it is absolutely fantastic to be able to lie on my right side comfortably - something I hadn't been able to do since the beginning of August. Things are looking good.

1 comment:

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

I'm glad to hear that things are looking good, all things considered. I bet the pixie cut looks great -- it sounds pretty tempting, actually.

Thanks for the updates!