I had my final chemo infusion last week, and had yet another different scenario of side effects. Dudes...
I was looking over the information they gave me back at the chemotherapy class, checking my notes and shit and comparing what they prepped me for in terms of possible side effects with what I actually experienced. Verdict? HAHAHAHAHA! They should have just given me the middle finger, shrugged their shoulders and said “Mr. Huttsez, we have no fucking clue because every patient is different. Good luck, LOL!” In fact, I would have really appreciated that kind of honesty. It would have helped me manage my expectations a hell of a lot better.
To be fair, they hinted at the “we have no idea” approach but fell short and pushed “fatigue” as the most common side effect of chemotherapy. I guess I don’t really blame them though- if they DID say “We have no clue”, a lot of patients would probably freak out, I get it. But don’t blow smoke up my arse, you know?
Here’s what the head bollocks infusion nurse said in the class- “If I were to ask all the patients I’ve had over the years what the main side effect of their chemotherapy was, the answer would OVERWHELMINGLY be fatigue.” She then proceeded to play down nausea and vomiting, “It’s not the bad old chemo that it used to be, we’ve come a long way. It’s no longer the norm, and we work very hard to avoid it. Fatigue will most likely be what you experience.”
Again- HAHAHAHAHA. I dream of lovely, gentle fatigue in all it’s “taking a nap” glory! Guess what? I’ve had no fatigue. In fact, I’ve more often been jacked and tweeking on the 10 bajillion mgs. of steroids they’ve given me. Fatigue?! Last time I checked, meth doesn’t make you sleepy. Guess what else? I’ve vomited more in the last 50 days than in my teens and twenties combined. That’s a lot of Boone’s Farm and Jaegermeister hangovers, people.
Three chemo infusions, three different reactions, same drugs each time.
First time- vomit all night on the day of infusion.
Second time- no vomiting, nausea for 5 days. Please note that I just wrote “no vomiting”.
Third time- felt fine that night and the next day. I FELT FINE! They had me in two days after the infusion for iv fluids and more anti-nausea meds because my oncologist didn’t like the five days of nausea from the second infusion. That night? Pukey good times. The next three days? Vomiting hijinks and gnarley nausea. Dafuq?!
I wrote to my oncologist, asking him about why I reacted differently each time, he answered “It’s a chemo effect.” Translation? Shoulder shrug with an “I don’t know why, lol!”
You know, it’s probably not fair to rag on them so hard, they’re trying. Cancer’s no joke, I’ll cut them some slack. Whudahyahgonnado?
Well, let’s do-
WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM CHEMO SO FAR
There is no common side effect, and there is no predicting what each individual may experience. Every single cancer patient will react differently to their chemotherapy. In the chemo book I got at the class they talked about constipation and diarrhea being possible problems. Nice and vague and open- just how I like it. I didn’t get the diarrhea because the anti nausea meds they fecking blasted in to me bunged me up tighter than a Scotsman’s wallet. Anti nausea meds may cause constipation, they said. Drink plenty of fluids, they said. It feels like I’ve been visited at night by Evil Pharmaceutical Company Elves that have been packing concrete up my arse at an alarming rate. Like those fucking Stone Trolls out of ‘Frozen’ rolling around my bedroom with big tamping sticks for properly ramming that cement up my nipsy. Believe me, I’d really like to “Let It Go”. Sorry (cringe).
The steroids are no joke. Big doses with big effects. I get pretty jacked up by the end of the 5 day course, and it’s never easy for... any of us here at Casa Huttsez. The steroids are a big factor for us. In fact, I think I’m in the middle of a bloggers “Roid Rage” right now. Sorry if I’m a little agro- I’d much rather be chill. I’ve been working on breathing and getting stoned to ease the rage. All Hail Mighty Cannabis, the one substance through this process that I trust to actually help me. I haven’t told you guys to go fuck yourselves, have I? Just gotta check ‘cause, you know, “Roids”.
Hair loss is a bit random. I haven’t gone the full-on-cancer-chrome-dome-no-eyebrows-alopecia yet, and I may not. I’ve got a dodgy sort of patchy looking thing going on, like a stubbly old half plucked chicken. Head and beard. It seems that a lot of the gray stayed on my beard and the darker hairs fell out more often than not. And the hair on my head has come back a bit patchy. I’m like the human equivalent of the worst factory farmed, steroid steeped chicken that you’d buy at ‘Smart N Final’ clearance warehouse, a chicken version of naked, old, shriveled and bald Arnold Schwarzenegger. I could still lose all my hair, we’ll see, but it just goes to show that side effects will vary from person to person. There is no way to tell what’s gonna happen...
I have developed the olfactory senses OF A FUCKING BLOODHOUND! Every little whiff, good or bad, has been delivered like a hammer blow to my nostrils and when you’re feeling nauseous to start with, those smells will send you right up to the edge, if not straight over it into Vomitville. I’ve heard that people compare it to pregnant women’s morning sickness, and the resultant sensitivity to smells. Now that I can smell the litter box from my neighbor’s house INSIDE MY BRAIN, empathy with my pregnant sisters is at an all time high.
Every good moment is a joy. Every good day is a triumph. Look, I’ve had some utterly shit days so far, but I’ve had way more good than bad. There’s no need for me to be a miserable old bugger about this- Mrs. Huttsez and the kids need (deserve) more from me. That’s how I keep my focus as strong as I can, because it’s hard. I have doubts and fears. I’ve yelled at the walls when the nausea was... testing my patience? Yeah, ok. The not so good bits make the good bits really, really good. That’s how it works. All this positive, cuddly shit brings me to the last- and most important- thing I’ve learned.
There are times through this process that my body will give in to the marauding bezerkers of The Clan RCHOP. Chemo is just too gnarly to get out unscathed and going into my treatment I never thought it’d be easy. Lo and behold, I’ve had different reactions from each individual infusion without rhyme or reason- my body gave in to the chemo. Ok fine, have the body. It’s only temporary, I’ll get it back thankyouverymuch. What the chemo can’t effect is my spirit. It can’t stop me from being a father and husband, or from saying “I’ll feel better tomorrow.” to Mrs. H. I’ve learned that breathing, visualization, walking, stretching, smiling all help me get through the bullshit, horrible parts and it works. The most important thing is to stay positive. If you think I’m being all corny well... fuck you, you rusty cockslice motherfucker! Oh shit, sorry! “Roids” (G-shrug).
I’m incredibly grateful for all the side effects that I have NOT experienced so far in my treatment. I will not name them, for to tempt fate is a fool’s game.
You know, that’s the bullet points and shit, there’s plenty more that I have learned through this process, but nobody likes a ranty, roid raging old guy and if you’ve gotten this far then you’ve already had to wade through some fury. I think you’ve done really well and thanks for putting up with me.
I have an image of my inner self battling the steroids for control of my mind like the scene in Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ where the guys get in the sexy knife fight while Eddie Van Halen shreds his solo and I win control over the steroid and we dance together with Michael. See? Creative and positive visualization. Boom.
That’s it for now.
Thanks for reading, see you soon.
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