39. When your own phlegm tries to kill you.... Or Week 1 Chemo Round 3
They say the effect of chemo is cumulative, that with every session it hits harder. Coming into round three, I would say this definitely true, but again “harder“ is relative. For me harder has meant I was more tired out of the gate. Instead of having the “‘roid rage” that lasted through the first three days, I just felt weary and ready to sleep.
DAY 1: Infusion. Not fully hydrated so veins are hard to see. Manage to find one in my bicep that moves and hurts. Move needle and get a better flow - Yay! - except there is now a giant bruise on bicep - Ugh! I feel really tired, go home and sleep.
DAY 2: Still tired. Where’s that ‘roid rush? The one that gave me all the energy to be super productive for two days before crashing? Manage to focus but mostly rest. Bone pain starts to set in.
DAY 3: Super weary, but pull it together to teach my classes. While I have 48 hours of paid sick time, I’m only allowed to use 24, which I’ve already hit. (Bureaucratic BS, don’t ask.) My students are great with coaching so it’s not as if I am a “participant,” so I suck it up and find my zone. I am super sweaty but it makes me feel better overall. Later I start to get a headache but some Tylenol knocks it out.
DAY 4: Bone pain still present, and sinuses are super dry again. Apparently this is just a part of my side effects. Pound water, Gatorade and Pedialyte but have to hit the sheets early.
DAY 5: Feel better than yesterday. Fluids and Mucinex seem to have mobilized my congestion so it doesn’t just sit and get infected. Sadly the mucus train seems to be once again draining like I have crazy allergies. Or maybe I have caught a cold? It’s hard to really tell.
DAY 6: Feeling even better, as I managed to get a decent nights sleep. Thank you MedMen!! Also manage to get our Xmas tree up and do laundry HUZZAH!!! Bedtime is still 9:30.
DAY 7: Usually this is supposed to be the point at which your white blood cell count is the lowest. And I have to say I woke up thinking “Yup, I feel fully shitty today.” But the thing is I am co-hosting a Xmas party, so I need to pull it together. I spend most of the day resting, and much like a performer, get into costume knowing that I want to do this. If there is anything I know I’ve inherited from my mom, it is I have an incredibly strong will.
It goes fine. But by8 o’clock, I am pretty much toast, so I help clean up a bit and head home. Collin is properly schnockered (Editors note - this is correct) and unfortunately because of all the chemicals in my system, my sense of smell is enhanced so the booze coming out of his pours is enough to make me gag. We get home and after wiping off my “warpaint” I go to lie on the couch and see that he has already curled up and will probably be drunk snoring within the next 10 minutes.
I am correct, so I wake him up and tell him to go to bed. I stay on the couch because this first week I sleep restlessly thanks to the aforementioned side effects as well as hot flashes (YAY LADY CANCER) . I fall out and wake up to the sound of myself choking. Yup, of all things, I seem to have inhaled some of the phlegm that has been traveling down from my nasal passage and I CANNOT FUCKING BREATHE! Collin can’t hear me, because he is dead asleep in the other room, and for a moment I realize: “CANCER MAY KILL ME AFTER ALL. I MAY ASPHYXIATE ON THIS SIDE EFFECT PHELGM!”
Luckily, I have learned from experience that I work well under diress, so I manage to heimlich myself, and shake the offensive phlegm loose, reassuring me that I will survive another night. I prop myself up with my full body pillow , remembering that I read somewhere that keeping your body upright helps people with sleep apnea etc, and it works. I wake up alive ready to teach my classes.
Well, I survived the evil phlegm threat. With a couple more weeks and three more treatments God only knows what freak thing will fly it’s flag next.
I guess like everything else, I’ll just have to wait and see.