I’ve already written about my emotions regarding receiving my sixth and final chemotherapy and, in particular, that I didn’t know whether to feel elated or terrified. So, this post serves more as a record of the ‘process’ and side affects, rather than my emotional response.
As promised I documented my last chemotherapy in the traditional style taken by many cancer warriors before me, and I’m sure many after me, I wrote a banner proclaiming my milestone and posed for many happy pictures. Of course I included my own flare with some bubbles and a fake unicorn tattoo because you are never too old for a bit of childish fun!
Receiving my final dose was of course much the same as with previous doses and following my 8 hours in hospital I returned home armed with a bag of my usual pharmaceutical drugs ready to aid any side affect chemotherapy was going to throw at me.
I had been told during my chemotherapy infusion that my magnesium levels were still very low (0.51 to be exact) and that I’d have to return the next day for a magnesium drip to try to get my levels up. I wasn’t best please about this as, in honesty, I like to hide in a corner after chemo but I understood that it was a necessity if I was to have any hope of my legs not aching from low magnesium.
That night my side affects were minimal. Yes I was tired and aching but I’d experienced worse with previous chemos and I went to bed content in the hope that this one would be easy. Or so I thought.
When I woke the next day I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Every bone ached to its core. The kind of dull pain associated with tooth ache was coursing through my body. I accepted that it was part of the process and ran myself a hot hymalayan salt bath to soak in, confident that it would help.
The pain, sadly, wasn’t the worst of it. Before long I was lying on the bathroom floor, my stomach so upset I was unable to move from the bath mat for over an hour. I’ll spare you the details – if you’ve had chemotherapy you’ll know what I’m talking about and if you haven’t just rest assured that some things are best left unsaid.
My husband called the hospital to let them know we would be late. My magnesium infusion was scheduled for 10am and by 11am I was sleeping curled up on the bath mat with a towel over me.
Finally finding the strength to actually take some of the lovely drugs designed to combat my situation, I recovered enough to make the journey to the hospital with my husband. I was in joggy bottoms and a hoody, no makeup, no head scarf, nothing. I was there and that was all that mattered…I took confidence in the fact that I’m sure the nurses have seen people looking worse!
Returning home that night I was still exhausted and dozed on the couch with my fur babies. Happily, I was able to eat which was a highlight I’d missed on most of my previous chemotherapy sessions.
However, in the following days I experienced more fatigue, exhaustion and breathlessness that with previous sessions. I’m told that chemotherapy is aqumulative and that with each session the fatigue gets worse. I’m asking told that Paclitaxel (one of the chemotherapy drugs I’m on) is one of the harshest forms of chemotherapy…although who knows? One of my chemo nurses told me that ‘ordinarily’ recovery from this would be about 6 months but that with the addition of my surgery it could be up to 12 months. Great! 12 month of feeling exhausted just doing simple tasks. It’s amazing how tiring doing something as simple as brushing your teeth can actually become.
As I write this I can happily report that I have regained some strength and that I’m starting to feel less tired. It’s only been just over a week since my chemotherapy and I’ve managed a walk with my rescue dog and a couple of outings on my own which I think is happy progress!..its just hard to remind myself that I do recover from chemo whilst actually experiencing the side affects. This is probably what lead to my recent feelings of vulnerability. Thankfully these too have passed and, once again, I am feeling my usually happy and positive self.
Although I’ve received my last chemotherapy infusion, my treatment has by no means finished. I still have months of hospital treatments for which I am very grateful as I know many women are not given the same opportunity – more on this later.
Until then, love and light, Fi xxx