I had my second cycle of chemo a week ago now, so I’m able to compare how I felt after the first round to how I felt after the second round. I will admit to keeping what is essentially a “cancer journal,” which includes all the tests I went through and how I feel each day after chemo. This helps me, personally, since I am a scientist and am curious to see if there are patterns. It also helps because I can’t remember exactly what happened three weeks ago, but it’s easy enough to look it up in my book and kind of know what to expect.
So, the take home message for round two of chemo is it wasn’t as hard as round one. Now there are several possible explanations for this (again – note that scientist bent). First off, my mother and mother-in-law were gracious enough to take the kids for four days after chemo, which meant I had much less to do and therefore didn’t get as tired throughout the day. Secondly, I’m trying much harder this time not to do too much, since I discovered it set off my nausea last time. I have much lower expectations of what to get done in a day in this week after chemo, since I know the answer is going to be “not much.”
Even with those two energy-saving activities, though, I don’t think it completely explains the lack of crushing exhaustion and need for multiple naps a day. My current hypothesis is the chemo killed so many cancer cells the first time around that my body was overwhelmed trying to flush the dead cells from the system and was exhausted. My tumor shrunk a good 1/2-2/3rds in size after the first chemo, with not near so noticeable changes this time. So, my body hasn’t had to deal with quite so much this time around.
I have been much more aware of the taste changes and metallic taste in my mouth. The faint nausea I feel much of the time is really due to the nasty taste in my mouth, which luckily can be removed by sucking on some hard candy. I just have to remember to do it. I also end up brushing my teeth a lot to get rid of the taste. I’m becoming quite a connoisseur of Gatorade. Or at least I’ve discovered I really only like the Lemon-Lime flavor.
Yesterday was probably the hardest. It seems that six days after chemo, the digestive tract finally recognizes that some nasty drugs were injected into the body, and it starts to rebel. Luckily, the Zofran works better than the Compozine, so I only needed an hour or so of quiet time on the couch to quell the rising nausea. I didn’t even need to employ the “Daggers of Hate” from the eyes in order to be left alone. Amazingly, I even managed to eat a bit for dinner. Not quite up to usual portion sizes, but at least I’m still eating consistently and even have an appetite for most meals.
Overall, it’s been easier this time around. It’s two down and four to go. One-third done, and the next one will make it half done. Counting down the days.