Fatigue, Red Skin, Hot Flushes and Waves of Nausea are some of the common side effects that I am now experiencing. The morning after just like the last time, my neck and face were as red as a baboons arse, as Lee has kindly put it. I didn’t feel well; my stomach was churning (probably and mixture of chemo and wine) and I didn’t really feel like eating, but knew that I had to eat something, not only for the nutrition side of things but also to prove to myself that I could. So after taking my medication I took the plunge and had a light breakfast that consisted of a slice of toast, with a dollop of Jam spread evenly across it, again like last night, it didn’t taste right. It was dry and tasteless, not like the normal fruity Jam that I was used to.
I have always enjoyed my food even to the point of falling asleep in it when I was a young child of around 2yrs of age. This was one of them stories that my mother always liked to embarrass me about by telling every friend or boyfriend, as soon as she met them. Other embarrassing stories she insisted on telling everyone were; that I would be in tears if you took my food away from me, or took me away from the table when there was food still on it. Then there was the time when I was given a cow heal and after eating all the meat, she tried to take it off me, only for me to start screaming and had to walk through the village with me sat in the front of the pushchair still clutching onto the my cow heal bone. Then there’s the one, at the age of 3, while stood at a shop door with my younger brother in his pushchair, while my mum was quickly purchasing a few items, she got back outside to us and after setting of for home noticed that brother and I were eating chocolate. Apparently I had seen the chocolate on the bottom shelf that was in the doorway of the shop. I wasn’t greedy though, I had got my brother a bar too. I had stolen 2 bars of chocolate the size that is priced today at Ł1.27 today. My mum panicked and ran off down the street dragging me behind her.
Do you know, listening to the stories from my mum I’m sure I should be weighing about 20 stone and probably locked up with the key destroyed for safe keeping. She has said that she used to worry and thought that if she hadn’t kept an eye on me, regarding food, then my weight would have been totally out of control. I didn’t care and still wouldn’t care if it tasted right. I love my food. Cream cakes and crisps are usually my downfall along with diary milk chocolate. I have had people comment to me quite often of how I could stay so slim with all the junk that I ate, as it seemed that every time anyone saw me I was stuffing my face with something or other. So much for the modelling diets hey? Mine was the See-Food-Diet. See it and Eat it.
Even though my food seems tasteless I am having an impulse to eat. I am eating to prove that I can eat. I am eating from boredom to give me something to do that doesn't involve moving too much and I'm eating to make my mouth feel better, Sucking on ice pops, sucking on water melon, having large portions of tinned pineapple chunks with the juice and double cream poured of it, and topped off with endless amounts of ice-cream. These few items have really helped with the dry mouth, but only on a temporary basis as half an hour later my mouth becomes dry again and so I’m downing more pineapple, melon and ice pops and ice-cream. Think at this rate if I’m not careful with the cream I will finish up looking like a blooming very large water melon.
I have been waking up a lot through the night which is very different for me. Usually once my head hits the pillow I would be out like a light until the next morning. These days though I am waking several times a night either to have a drink because my mouth is so dry that my tongue has stuck to the roof of my mouth as if by super glue or, waking up to go to the toilet to get rid of all the fluid that I’ve drank and the worst one is the hot sweats. I know everyone hears about the hot sweats during the menopause but no-one really tells you what to expect. You see the main thing for me is that these are a lot more severe during the night. I wake up red hot and my body becomes so clammy and sweaty that the bed sheets become wet. After the hot sweat has subsided I then begin to shiver from lying on the wet sheets, so the nights have become long and tedious. Sometimes I lay looking at Lee, so snug and comfortable and in such a deep sleep that an air raid siren wouldn’t wake him. On some occasions I have had to wake him, the nights when the sheets are so damp from the hot flushes that there has been no alternative but to change them. I always feel awful when I wake him, disturbing his sleep like that, but he never moans, he just smiles at me, gets out of bed, gets the clean sheets and changes the bed. He has however started to joke about it now and insists that I have in fact pee’d the bed. And that is sometimes just how it feels; if it wasn’t for my whole PJ’s being wet through and the top half being wetter than the bottoms I think I would be worrying and wondering if I had. Saying that even though he jokes about me waking him and him having to change the bed it still doesn’t change the fact that I feel awful for doing so. He does after all have to be up at five in the morning for work.
The first week after my second lot of chemo I have to admit that I had a feeling of loneliness and isolation. There was no way that I could go into work with the way I was feeling. I had telephoned the office first thing on the Monday morning to inform them that I wouldn’t be in and was greeted on the phone by my admin manager. The reaction seemed to be a bit abrupt, why do I say this well, because as soon as I explained why I wouldn’t be in her reply was a very sharp “OK” and that was the end of the conversation. I felt that I had done wrong and that I should have gone into work. I felt guilty for being sick but how could I go in, I felt like shit. I was tired, dizzy and very very nauseas. After each day that I rang in the response that I got made me feel more and more guilty. I would come off the phone, sit, stare into space and cry. Lee told me that I shouldn’t be feeling guilty and I know I shouldn’t but it was the tone of her voice that made me feel this way.
I spent the days laid on the sofa watching the TV but not actually taking anything in that was on. The steroids were still making my head whizz around at a thousand miles an hour GMTV, Lorraine Kelly, The Jeremy Kyle Show all passed by without me acknowledging any of it and then “Loose Women” Whey hey!! I had found my escape from this gloomy guilty feeling of not going into work. I found myself laughing hysterically to Denise Welch, Sherrie Hewson, and the rest of the cast, laughing whole heartedly at the comments and stories about everyday life. It was at this moment that I vowed to tune in to watch every day that I was too unfit for work, and over time I have to admit, became a little addicted to the programme, to the extent of where I even set my alarm clock just in case I fell asleep. So each day that I rang in work to say that I wouldn’t be in, I would come off the phone with the big guilt trip over me and would spend the morning dwelling about work, until my 12 o’clock fix of ‘Loose Women’ which would then perk me up and afterwards, would nicely fall asleep on the sofa.
Day 6 of chemo and again I started with the dreaded Diarrhea. This time though it lasted a good 4 days which in turn left me feeling even more weak and tired. I have never experienced tiredness like this before. The simple thought of getting up to go and get a drink would physically exhaust me. I just wanted to sleep. My oncologist had said that the tiredness would get worse over time, if this is the case then what on earth will I be like later on into my chemo. I’ve only just had my second course and I have six more to go. Still like Lee always says ‘Don’t dwell on it and take each day at a time”.
Lee has been so good, the usual check up calls, have now increased to double the amount and I am now actually answering the telephone with “I’m fine darling” as soon as I answer his calls. His hair has calmed down now and is just shedding hair at the normal daily rate, but he still got the side effect of the Diarrhea and on exactly the same day. Luckily for him he just had it for one day.
After the first week I started to feel more like the normal me and returned back to work. In fact I was feeling that good I even put in extra hours by working some of my lunches. Tenders were being done and the normal typing and office duties that I would do, but something had changed. What’s changed? I have no idea but whatever it is I don’t feel like I’m part of the team now. Maybe it’s because I’d been off sick or maybe it hadn’t changed and that I was imagining it to have changed, but each day I got the same feeling. Project managers have started to come to me to do typing for them only if no one else is available, my admin manager doesn’t talk to me like she used to either which I am finding very hard to cope with as the majority of the time it is just us two in the office. Maybe it is me, maybe it’s because I have changed, I’m not the normal lively bubbly person at the moment, I’m tired and no matter how hard I try I cannot get this cancer thing out of my head, Is that what it is? No one really wants to know about the cancer. It could be that because I am no longer wearing my wig for work due to the hot flushes that they don’t know how to talk to me. Wearing a bandana and seeing this, could be a constant reminder that I have indeed got cancer. I am not hiding behind a wig now and have no intentions of wearing it just to please others. I have also noticed that I have started to drift off into my own little world and that I have to concentrate a little harder now on work, but surely this is no reason to be treated any differently. I am still me, I am still the same person with the same likes and dislikes, and I am still the same person with the same feelings and still the same person that can be hurt