Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tips for the Chemo Traveler

What a different me on the new chemo, even though it's weekly.  On the good days, mid week and leading up to Friday, I am doing a little more each day and for longer.  I am not on any meds to tolerate it, no shots, no pain killers, nothing.  If you are unfortunate enough to ever go through AC chemo, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and although the first couple of weeks on Taxol had some problems, it is so much easier to tolerate and cope with.  Like night and day baby.

While on chemo, I notice these are some of the ongoing issues:

Dry skin.  You have to use a great moisturizer,  especially your arms, hands and face.  You need something really gentle though, like Lubriderm.  Forget the fragrances and all of that.  While on Taxol, you tend to have allergic skin reactions, so keep everything really simple and pure.  I also use baby oil and rub it into my nails and cuticles.  It really helps.  I also like Bag Balm for my nails and feet.

Itchy, watery eyes.  Did you know that chemo drugs also pass through your tear ducts? I am constantly battling itchy, watery eyes.  I've tried a few drops, sometimes they help, sometimes they don't.  A cool washcloth is often enough for some relief.  Also, a sterile saline solution eye wash helps.  I also have light sensitivity too, so I always wear my sunglasses.

Fluid Retention.  Both chemo and hormonal changes can cause fluid retention.  My hands, feet, face and tummy often feel puffy and uncomfortable.  Ease up on the salty foods, and drink plenty of water.  I like to put slices of orange or lemon or cucumber in icy glasses of water.  It's very refreshing and seems to give some relief from the fluid retention.

Too Cold or Too Hot.  I am like Goldilocks and the porridge on this one, one minute, too cold, the next, too hot (and flashing like a streaker in the seventies).  Dress in layers.  Wear cotton clothing.  Make a cup of green tea to warm yourself up and get your antioxidants.  When you're hot, a smoothie with fruit and yogurt is great.  and popsicles.  Popsicles are a mandatory item in your freezer when you're on chemo.

Bladder Irritation and/or Constipation.  Oh goodie, aren't you happy to hear about these?  It makes sense that when your skin and eyes are irritated, you might also have some problems with your plumbing.  I can't stress enough how important it is to drink plenty of water while on chemo.  It really helps.  Use gentle soaps when you wash your Muffy (that's what my Mom called it, LOL), and wear cotton panties.  If you missed it, my first cancer joke was I would have to change Muffy's name to Buffy.  If you notice you are not "pooping like a rock star" as Midge would say, take a couple of stool softeners at night.  Eat foods like bananas, sweet potatoes, and oatmeal.  Stay away from carbonated drinks.

Fatigue.  This is my new "f" bomb.  Fatigue.  It's huge during chemo, and did you know it can last 6-12 months after you've finished?  If you have radiation, same thing.  You have to pace yourself.  Lay down when you need to.  There are times I just have to lay down, I'm not sleepy, I just need to put my feet up and close my eyes and rest for awhile.  Other times I am very sleepy, I think because of insomnia.  Yoga and stretching really help.  So does walking.  Don't be afraid to ask for help, and don't overdo it.  You really have to take care of yourself.

Chemo Brain/Menopausal Mermaid Brain.  This was unbelievable during the AC treatment.  It is so much better now on the Taxol.  I do notice I have to write things down, more than I ever used to.  I make memos on my phone, keep a pocket calendar in my purse, and whenever I talk to someone regarding insurance or care issues, I make notes.  I notice I transpose letters often while speaking, like asking Robin to get me a wottle of bater instead of bottle of water.  It is often difficult to articulate a thought or find the right word.  This is something I've never had a problem with.  I try and be patient with myself and remember, this will go away.  Well, except that being menopausal is like a double whammy.  Someday, in a galaxy far, far away, this will go away.

Port Tenderness and Pain.  I don't think most people have the trouble with their port I've had.  I am sure my port must be resting on the scar tissue from the first failed port.  I still have considerable discomfort, and since starting the Taxol, my incision site blisters.  One thing that really helps is an icepack.  Go to the baby section of the store, and get yourself one of those little freezable teethers.  I have a cute little butterfly that is about 2"x3" and I keep it in the fridge or frozen and whenever my port starts bothering me, I put it on.  Most of the icepacks are just too big.  The baby teethers work great.  Baby yourself baby.

So there you have it.

If you are undergoing chemo, I'm sorry, that sucks, and I hope some of this will help.

If you are not undergoing chemo, please hug and kiss a chemo patient the next time you see 'em.

Applause is also appreciated.

and chocolate.


1 comment:

kim said...

You will get lots applause Saturday morning. Everyone does as they are walking. See you then. Love you.

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