Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Side Effects of Chemo

I thought the side of effects of chemo ended when the drug stopped pumping into me.  Turns out the post chemo side effects tend to be worse. While you are on the drug they also pump you full of powerful anti-nausea drugs that move to oral on demand meds post, but the chemo stays in your body for 48-72 hours after it stops (halfway through that point). The nausea has been hitting me hard and am not sure if it is chemo or infection/fever related but ready for it to end.

I have not lost my hair. It is not a common side effect with this chemo drug but my reactions to drug have proven non-standard. If anything I think my hair has gotten smoother. (Can't tell if this the drug or the fact I spend 23.5 hours a day laying down, more likely the later.) I have started to subscribe to my daughter, Katherine's, form of hair brushing which consists of running her fingers through her hair. Don't tell her I told you this because I still think she needs to use a hairbrush before she goes to school! But for me on solitary confinement in my hospital garb, floating in and out of fevers, it does the trick.

One side effect of my chemo drug, cladribine, is aneorxia. My mysterious weight gain was all steriods related and went away as fast as it came. I feel so sick I have no appetite now hence the crazy milkshakes, but expect that to end with the fevers and lingering chemo drugs in my body.  I love food. One of the reasons I accepted my offer at P&G was it was the only company where I interviewed where my dinner host ordered dessert. One of the reasons I feel in love with Chad is he is always willing to go halfsies with me so we can both try two things, and he ate desserts with me. We have driven (literally) miles before to go to restaurants for meals and have rarely been disappointed. So I have a hard time imaging not wanting to eat but for those of you that will be seeing me more often after I am out of the hospital please remind me to keep eating.

I also feel humbled as a side effect of the chemo. So many small things I have not even thought about are so hard now. I am a fall risk because with low platelet count. If I fall my body does not have enough platelets to heal bruises, or stop bleeding, so falling and hitting my head is especially dangerous (could cause a brain bleed). So I get an escort to the bathroom. I am still allowed to shower but there is a seat I am helped into, a bar for me to hold onto and a cord to pull if I feel dizzy.  It feels like my sturdy, strong body is on hiatus and hoping it finds it way back soon!

Each day we seem to be learning more and more. This has definitely been a crash course for us in hairy cell leukemia and chemo. Hoping for days where I feel better more often than not to return soon...


  1. Sweet friend, keep trudging up the hill (you know the feeling, or maybe it was just me feeling it as I chased you up Baiyun or when we first started running together and I would collapse on the stone floor of our villa and tell Scot that I thought you were trying to kill me). I am so sorry I am so far away but you are thought of several times a day. I agree, many things have been put in perspective, you made me stronger as I left the boys for 5 days to travel to Guam with the XC team. I love you dear friend, soon we will be picking out another 1/2 marathon in the States that we can run together, and we invite anyone else who dares to have a 2-2 1/2 running conversation to join us !!! :)) Q

  2. So sorry you are going through this Beth. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Hang in there.. The Lewis Family