Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A post for Beth :)

Hi everyone. I thought I'd make a whole post about Beth's comment asking for other side effects still present after 7 months. So if this post sounds like whine and cheese - blame Beth!!!!! Haha - just kidding...

I can hear the complaint department door creaking slowly open...

Alright, let's start with my head. You all know about the hair. I have enough to go without a hat now although my head does get hot. I use baseball caps sometimes and my hair is unruly. Remember the hair coloring incidents (see earlier blogs) and learn from my mistakes. Chemo hair takes color differently than it did before.

Eyebrows are wispy - this bugs me although Mom gave me a good Maybelline brow pencil that works well.

Tamoxifen has its very own set of side effects. Thin eyelashes, facial fuzz and my undereyes are puffy like they've never been before. No, I haven't been crying.

Hot flashes are a regular occurrence between 8 and 9 every night. And cold flashes, if that makes sense. I shudder when I get cold now. Pretty bizarre.

Working out doesn't work as well as before. I exercise every day even if I don't have much energy. Even if I only ride a mile on my exercise bike, I do it. I guess the accumulated steroids and chemo makes the cells very different. These buggers are quite resistant to toning and cardio. It's like shoving a square peg through a round hole.

Bone pain isn't as constant now but it's still there. Hip pain is much better and only occurs once a day. The concentrated pain lies below my knees to my ankles and the tops of my feet. Maybe this is my version of neuropathy. Doc says exercise will help - so I do. This pain is excruciating at times, so much so that I can't walk well.

I get these flashback-types bouts of intense nausea. Like a reminder of chemo. It lasts for about 1/2 to 1 hour and I'm miserable. The stomach pain, back ache, full feeling - all the sickness of chemo. And then it goes away. It isn't in my head and there's no apparent time that it kicks in. Just random - once or twice a week. I think I'm one of the very very few people that didn't puke once while taking chemo. I have a cast iron stomach so these little recurrences really make me miserable.

Concentration is very hard for me. I'm reading more, since I believe this is a very good exercise for the mind. I can't multitask and I do hope this skill comes back. I test myself during the day with chores, doing multiple tasks at once to get the juices going.

I've also noticed my coordination is funky. I can actually write whole sentences with my fingers shifted on the keyboard and it comes out as gobbledly gook. So I need to look at the keyboard now when I type - which slows my writing down a little. Again, I do feel this is a coordination issue that will resolve as I distance myself from the drugs. I make some serious typos sometimes and it can be hilariously funny. Of course, it won't be funny if I send something bad to my editor :)

It's funny, I don't think about my missing boobs. Yes, I've had to adjust to wearing looser shirts but I'm not feeling rushed into getting the final reconstruction. I've decided to wait until November. I need a break from the poking and prodding. A long break.

Skin has changed - on my face and body. I get dehydrated very easily. It's like the chemo sucked the moisture out of my skin. I coat lotion on after my shower, right onto my wet skin. This is starting to make a difference but it's annoying. My lips get dry quickly too. I'm a chapstick queen here but I may have to switch to lipstick soon.

Fatigue is a given now. I get really tired and conk right out. It doesn't matter if I was meeting the Pope, I'd fall sleep if I was tired. This really worries me if I ever go back to work. I'm very afraid of getting run down again.

Radiation effects: I still feel tighter skin on my right breast, especially where the boost radiation treatment occurred. The skin is soft again but still tanned. All around, I'm pleased with how fast and well I healed. It just looks like crap but then, my whole chest does ;0)

Beth and everyone going through chemo - please, please beware in the first year after chemo that you are exceptionally susceptible to germs and viruses. I picked up a cold from Jackie and it's kicked my butt. Bill actually stayed home from work with me on Monday to take care of me. I've never had to have someone care for me during a cold. Plastic bubble - here I come!!!

Here's a little tidbit that I discovered today that I must share with all my sisters (and brothers - Armand!!) in cancer. I have found the miracle product that helps with eyelashes. Yes I have. I'm getting some Monday when Bill gets his paycheck. I had an at length talk with the cosmetologist at the drugstore and she's been using it. I can't remember the name but she says it works. And I saw her eyelashes to prove it!!

You cannot imagine how excited I am. I'll take eye pictures so you guys can follow my progress. I'm SO doing this next week. This one thing will go an extremely LONG WAY to making me happier. I can't remember the name of it now but I'll post it here as soon as I can.

I'm sure there are other "leftovers" that will occur to me as soon as I hit the publish button. I'll add them when I remember!


Holly said...

it is such an uphill battle we all fight, but worth it (i hope!). i am nearly 2 years post treatment and still feel worn out a lot of the time. i went back to work 4 weeks after my final chemo and worked full-time throughout radiation is exhausting...all of it...every little bit...blessings on all of us!

Beth said...

wow... thanks for the post :0)

It is really good to have this info to set expectations. One thing I've definitely learned is the effects of chemo are cumulative (at least for me) so I can tell the recovery is going to take a while. Thanks for taking the time to document all of this for us...


JD said...

Hey, just a little tip on hair growth. I have thin hair and a long time ago my beautician suggested using sea breeze on my scalp. She said it opens up the pores and allows for thicker hair growth. She said for one week, apply to the scalp and leave for ten minutes before rinsing. After the first week, apply the same way once a week. I immediately noticed a lot of new growth to the point where I had all these wisps that were a little irritating, but that proved that it worked. I don't know how that will work with your dry skin issue, rather if that would irritate your scalp since your skin is dry, but it might help it grow quicker and thicker.

Also, when my skin is really dry I apply half lotion, half baby oil to my damp skin after my shower and that really helps retain the oil longer. Maybe that would help your skin?

Hang in there. I feel for you. You are so strong for getting out there and fighting even though it sucks! (Rule #1 of my bloggin rules...I can say sucks even though it's not lady like!)

Denise said...

Enjoyed your blog!

ANother cancer survivor