Wednesday, September 4, 2019

9 month update

weaving

Is it just me, or are the times in this country just getting heavier and heavier? The recent shootings in Texas, the situation at the border, all of it has me feeling pretty down. But I honestly have to ask "Is it just me?" fairly often, thanks to having started Tamoxifen three weeks ago.

I was more worried about starting Tamoxifen than about doing chemotherapy, if you can believe that! I had read so many horror stories online, and I personally know someone who's been on it who struggled with emotional mood swings and just feeling run down all the time. But I knew I had to give it a try - I had the option to take it the first time I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I didn't, and the cancer came back. To me, that was good enough reason to try it.

I've had numerous side effects, some common, some not so common. Hot flashes, although they're not as bad as I experience on chemo. Achiness, but that was more within the first few days, and it has since subsided. Clouded vision, dry eyes, and eye pain, which is worrisome, as my vision was already affected by chemo. Extreme fatigue, which thankfully is helped by staying active and moderate exercise. I'm thirsty all the time, which is good since I drink more water now. I also struggle with dizziness and brain fog which comes and goes - I don't get it every day, and when I do get it, it passes after 1-3 hours. But while it's on it is so hard to concentrate and I make silly mistakes and can't think clearly. Sleep disturbances - I'll wake 3-4 times a night, wide awake, and have trouble falling asleep again - but again, this is helped by exercise.

And last, but not least, the mood swings. The best way to put it is that I feel extremely emotional, almost all the time. I was always teary eyed in sentimental scenes and sad commercials - now I have tears running down my face. Thoughts and memories at random also make me want to cry. I do my best to talk myself through it, so I'm not a mess in public. I've also experienced moments of depression, that thankfully pass, but when they pass I am amazed at how low I felt.

So, I now understand why Tamoxifen gets such a bad rap! I'm going to do my best to stick it out at least six months before I decide what to do next.

Also, I'm trying to see the positive side of being on a medication that makes me unusually emotional - I find myself remembering things from my childhood, and experiencing the emotions I felt at that time, all over again. It is fascinating, as these are sense memories I thought I had lost. And maybe being so emotional is helping me emotionally connect to others in my life? I hope so.

I hope everyone is doing well, and thanks to those who read these updates - I hope they are helpful to you in some way!

Monday, June 3, 2019

6 month update

experimenting with English Paper Piecing

Thought I'd update you again - I like the idea of these updates being all in one place, for my future reference. :) As you see above I am dipping my toes into English Paper Piecing with hexagons - something I NEVER thought I'd try - the idea of a hand-pieced quilt always seemed so intimidating!

I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew, crafting-wise, which leaves me frequently with half-finished projects and downcast spirits. So I was shocked at how well I took to hand-sewing these hexagons - my biggest inspiration being a Creativebug class on English Paper Piecing by Liza Lucy.

She explained it so well, answering all the questions that mere diagrams in books left me bursting with, and I began!

experimenting with English Paper Piecing

I'll be doing a more in-depth post on this project on Feeling Stitchy, so keep an eye out for that!

6 months post-chemo
In health news, I am feeling better than ever, at my 6 month mark, post-chemo. Last week I had my first period since October 2018, which makes me so happy that my body is finally resetting itself. I wasn't liking the idea of menopause at 42, so I'm glad that everything is getting back to normal again.

Getting back to normal was a struggle, and I did have some false starts 3 months post-chemo. I had an odd series of episodes with fast, irregular heartbeats that sent me to the ER and urgent care, and ultimately to my doctor and a heart specialist. But happily, all the tests came back normal, the racing heartbeats subsided, and my doctor said that aside from a fatty liver (which I never recall having before chemo) and a vitamin D deficiency, I was doing very well.

My energy levels are finally back to normal, if not better than before! My achiness subsided as well - I've found that walking and keeping active is truly the best medicine for that. I've been working out again as of several weeks ago, so my arm mobility on my mastectomy side has really improved as well.

This is all a case of answered prayers - there were so many scary times when I doubted I would bounce back and get back to normal - I am just beyond happy at where I am right now.

Project A Month
On Feeling Stitchy I've been doing a series called Project a Month where my one goal is simply to finish 1 needlework project per month. What I've found by scheduling my time this way, is, of course, I have way more time than I ever imagined. Last month I found myself finishing 2 projects, so I'm hoping each month I'll be able to learn how to schedule my crafting time better and better.

Ultimate needlecraft haul

Up above you see the massive haul of vintage needles, scissors and pins I found at the thrift store for $5. I won't be needing a needle any time soon!

I hope this post finds you all well, healthy, and inspired!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Dreaming of green

Dreaming of green a post by floresita on her blog unafloresita.blogspot.com
Dreaming of green a post by floresita on her blog unafloresita.blogspot.com
Dreaming of green a post by floresita on her blog unafloresita.blogspot.com

Here I am again, I know it's been awhile, just wanted to say hello and share a few images I'm enjoying lately - mostly I love when I am attracted to the same colors, over and over, unconsciously, in this case lime green.

I've been doing well, post-chemo - a lot of mysterious aches and pains, but every time I Google them, they seem to be normal side effects of women post-chemo. So, I'm just trying to bear with it, and each day I do feel stronger. Had a lot of pain in my hands last month, I've never had arthritis, but I imagine that's what it feels like. This month it's my knee and the ball of my foot, I just joke that chemo left me (I hope temporarily) with the body of an 80 year old.

Aside from that, I am keeping inspired - taking Karen Barbe's class on Color Theory on Domestika, finishing my Final project for that class (in lime green, as you see above), also taking Lisa Congdon's Creative Boot Camp class on Creativebug, which is SO MUCH fun, and starting on my next Project a Month for Feeling Stitchy. I'll give you a hint what the dominant color is on that one... lime green! :)

Hope you all are keeping well and inspired this Spring!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Chemotherapy update #15-16

2 lovely birds, made last year, given to chemo friends

Well, I am done with chemo! My last chemo was 3 weeks ago, and I couldn't be happier. There are no words to describe how happy I felt when I rang the bell, waved goodbye, and went home. Pure joy.

SIDE EFFECTS ON PACLITAXEL
- Swelling hands and feet, weight gain - a combination of the chemo, steroid, and lack of activity, I think.
- Light brown hair! I've always had near-black hair - an interesting surprise.
- Mood swings - the worst ones hit about 1 week after chemo, then got steadily better.
- Brain fog - off and on, getting better.
- Bloody nose - finally disappeared 2 weeks after my last chemo.
- Fingernail / tonenail changes - still weird looking, but getting stronger.
- Small spot of possible neuropathy on the heel of one foot - it's a small spot, at least. So glad I iced my hands and feet for Paclitaxel - it made a difference!

At 2 weeks, I was feeling better on all fronts, but at 3 weeks I am feeling the most normal since I started! Finally I am able to sleep through the night without issues, drink caffeine without being super wired, and walk at a normal, unlabored pace.

What can I say, but that I am grateful. Grateful to God for preserving me in this long, arduous trial. Grateful to my husband, my family, my friends. And grateful to all of you who reached out to me or left a comment to encourage me. Thank you!!!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Chemotherapy update #11-14

Piper Piping progress by floresita for Feeling Stitchy 12 Months of Christmas mmmcrafts stitchalong Dec. 2018
Progress on my Piper Piping ornament for the 12 Months of Christmas Stitchalong on Feeling Stitchy

Here I am, 14 total treatments in (4 AC and 10 Paclitaxel), and I'm almost done with chemo! Yay! It's hard to describe all of the things that I'm feeling, as I near the end of this part of my treatment.

I still have so much more to go - breast reconstruction, removal of my port, and through it all the lingering questions - will the cancer come back again, and if so, when? Will I have time to enjoy a married life, have a child, and if so, for how long? Of course, these are not the questions my husband or family want to hear, so I put them here, with a small layer of anonymity to protect them and myself. But I am overall doing my best to remain hopeful about my good prognosis, while maintaining a base of realism.

Here's a few updates on the side effects I've felt while continuing on my weekly Paclitaxel treatments...

SIDE EFFECTS I'VE HAD ON PACLITAXEL

- Hair regrowth - after my eyebrows thinned to about 20%, they started growing back! Also, the hair on my head is coming back as very soft baby fuzz. Still no considerable hair regrowth anywhere else.
- Eyelashes falling out - still have most of my top lashes, but the bottom have almost completely fallen out.
- Crusty eyes on waking - maybe a symptom of sparse lashes + extra dry skin?
- Dark and white spots on fingernails.
- Extreme exhaustion, dizziness, loss of balance.
- Hot flashes - these are worst at night - one second I am cold, the next sweat is pouring down my head and I feel like I'm on fire - ugh.
- Vision changes - foggy vision, hard to focus.
- Hearing loss - I'm always having to ask everyone to repeat themselves.
- Chemo brain - forgetfulness, etc.
- Bloody nose - every time I blow my nose, there is blood on the tissue.
- Bleeding in my mouth - 1 small spot on my inner lip - no pain, just blood, keeping an eye on it.
- Very erratic sleep patterns - think I can blame this on the steroid.
- Mood swings - again, the steroid.
- No periods - only 1 very long period in 6 months, after I started Paclitaxel.

Positives of my chemo experience so far

- No serious life-threatening reactions so far - and I'm very grateful for that!
- Clear skin - no skin reactions (other than dry skin) and clear skin throughout - only 3-4 pimples in 6 months!
- Vivid memories of things that happened long ago - pretty sure this is chemo related.
- Strengthening of relationships with family and friends.
- Becoming that person that people feel comfortable telling their problems to.
- Wig fun. :)
- Caring less about the little crap, and even some of the big crap that doesn't matter in life.
- Slowing down and becoming aware of others around me who are also sick, struggling, and in need of encouragement.
- Becoming ever more aware that God is watching over my every step and sustaining me in all of this.

An important thing to remember is that in spite of the laundry list of symptoms above, I am thankfully still functioning, still able to work and do things for myself. There are good days and bad days, but overall I am getting through it.

I'm very fascinated by the vivid memories I've been having from the past, so I wanted to describe that more. At times, they are so vivid, I feel like they are happening in that instant - it's amazing. I had a really sweet memory of myself as a very small child, looking up with excitement at the Christmas turkey, and it just filled my heart with warmth and thanksgiving.

So, I am pulling through - thank you for your comments of encouragement, for all of you who read this, and all of you fighting this fight as well, may God be with you! <3

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Chemotherapy update #6-10

Maid a milking ornament as stitched by floresita for her blog Things I've Made

I took a break from religiously cataloging my symptoms, because it got me down. But I still wanted to give you (and the future me) an overview of how I felt. :) This image seemed fitting to me, as it pretty aptly describes how I feel right now - it's the Maid-a-milking pattern I'm working on for the 12 Months of Christmas Stitchalong on Feeling Stitchy - she's pretty on the outside, but such hard work to put together, and many mornings I feel like this, sort of in pieces.

Carefully, I draw on my eyebrows, add some color to my face, cover my dark circles, put my long, pretty wig on, and dress carefully to hide my uneven left side after my mastectomy. This is all important, and this all makes me feel better when I interact with the world, but I am so good at what I do that often people don't know that I am sick or going through anything at all. And I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I would rather look better than I feel.

After a week break from the AC regimen, I started my weekly doses of Paclitaxel, of which I have had 5 so far. Here are the main things I've noticed.

Side effects I've had on Paclitaxel

- Eyebrows falling out
- Extreme constipation (I'll leave the details out, just trust me, it's gross) :)
- Exhaustion, weakness, dizziness
- Dehydration - I'm always thirsty, and want to drink liquids constantly
- Bone aches - minor, but there, and mainly first few days after chemo
- Fingernails flattening and nailbeds darkening, tingling in fingertips (before they reduced my dosage)
- Very dry skin

Things I've enjoyed about Paclitaxel

- More energy than on AC, but dizziness and exhaustion can hit at any time
- Able to eat more foods than on AC, still sensitive to spicy foods and coffee, but I can have a little
- No nausea
- Less chemo stink :)
- More energy to craft and be creative
- Slightly clearer head
- Less sinus issues

Day 1 - Chemo day - 5th treatment
I DID NOT enjoy the first treatment of Paclitaxel, as I was receiving it. I was given a heavy dose of Benadryl, which made me feel really sleepy and out of it. They put the cold mitts on my hands and feet to keep me from getting neuropathy in my fingers and toes. Having hands and feet so cold they ached for over an hour was pretty unpleasant.

I went home, slept for several hours, and woke up feeling much better. I was able to go back to work the day after chemo! The first week after I felt positively glorious, probably the combined effect of being off the AC for 1 week, and enjoying the lovely energy boost the steroids gave me.

Day 1 - Chemo day - 6th treatment
This time I wasn't given Benadryl. I was more alert and awake throughout the treatment, which I enjoyed. The cold mitts and booties were not very cold, which I thought was a good thing, but I felt more side effects after my treatment. Again, I felt very tired, fell asleep, and felt better. Again was able to go to work the day after chemo.

This week was very difficult - once the steroid wore off, I was so exhausted. Every time I tried to get out to the supermarket or to run errands, I felt I was dragging my feet to even lift them, and I often felt I was going to pass out. Also felt a lot of tingling in my fingernails, and could see the whites of them expanding, as if they were separating. They also seemed to flatten out and change shape, which was freaky, too. My fingertips look permanently pruney, as if I've just climbed out of a bathtub.

My eyebrows began falling out bit by bit. At my doctor's appointment I mentioned my extreme exhaustion and tingling in my fingers and she reduced my dosage a small amount, which made a big difference.

Day 1 - Chemo day - 7-10 treatments
After the dosage was reduced, I've felt pretty similar each time - exhausted right after chemo, then plenty of energy the day after. Second and third days after are pretty low energy, sometimes the fourth day after as well.

Overall, Paclitaxel has been easier than AC so far, but it's still hard. Looking forward to all of this being over soon!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Chemotherapy update #3-4

Here were my experiences after doing my second Chemotherapy treatment- this was the third and fourth of 4 doses of AC, every other week, after which I will do 12 weekly treatments of Taxol.

Day 1 - Chemo day - 3rd treatment
This chemo hit me really hard - I think it's because I forgot to load up on lots of water the night before, and take a mug of water with me. Instead, I'd been drinking a lot of tea, and had tea with me. I won't make that mistake again.

The last dose they gave me - of Cytoxan was pretty uncomfortable. Really felt it very strongly in my nose and neck and sinuses. Typically it goes away as soon as I leave, but not this time. My nose and sinuses were very irritated for days after. I also felt a stinging sensation at my port as we drove home. Felt very tired and cruddy all evening.

Day 2
Had an ok appetite in the morning. Took a Claritin right before the Neulasta shot. Felt tired mainly. Aches and pains started that night, along with a little trouble swallowing. Took an Aleve, which seemed to help a little.

Day 3
Saying that I feel less cruddy - well I still feel cruddy, right? It's hard to appreciate feeling less like crap, when you still feel like crap. :) I think the bone pain and aches were definitely less, but it was still uncomfortable and really a drag. So, even though I felt better, I still didn't feel well enough to do more than sit on the couch, which was frustrating. Took an ibuprofen, and the Claritin, which helped somewhat.

Day 4
Still very tired and a little sore - mornings are the toughest, and I feel better later on. The sinus issues stuck around, going through boxes of tissues. Took a short walk in the evening. Heat really affects me, as does bright sunlight - starting to feel like a vampire. :)

Day 5
Tired and dizzy. Find myself fantasizing about my favorite foods, but at the same time, don't feel like I can eat them. It's a weird feeling.

Day 6
Tired and dizzy, was finally able to get back to work. A lot more sensitive to strong smells - I had to throw out my bathroom soap bar because it was really bothering my nose and making me feel sick. I loved that smell before, too!

Day 7 and on
Recovered bit by bit - what I learned is that it always took my body a full week after chemo to begin to feel normal again. Not completely normal, but better.


Day 1 - Chemo day - 4th treatment
Loaded up on water the night before and I indeed felt much better throughout chemo, and immediately after. Had good energy and appetite that day.

Day 2 and on
Yes, I gave up on chronicling the every day aches and pains - but I experienced nothing new - just the same gripes, at different times. Soreness and pain from the Neulasta shot for an entire 24 hours afterward, as well as dizziness, nausea, severe acid reflux, throat pain, and exhaustion. Again, I felt that my body never really went back to normal until 1 week after my AC chemo treatment. Also, my period showed up almost a month late, but at least I had one, I guess.

Now that I have experienced the Taxol treatments, I feel like they are also difficult, but there are far fewer side effects than the AC. If you are on AC, or someone close to you is, just be patient, it will be over soon, and you will feel better when it is!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Chemotherapy update #2

Here were my experiences after doing my second Chemotherapy treatment- this was the second of 4 doses of AC, every other week, after which I will do 12 weekly treatments of Taxol.

Day 1 - Chemo day
Everything went well again, I had no reactions, and I was out around 12 PM again. When I came in they did a blood test, and showed me how much my white blood cell numbers had improved after the Neulasta shot. Then they followed with the treatments. Only the last thing they gave me gives me any reaction (which I now know is Cytoxan) - a tingly headache, and weird feeling in my nose, like water going up my nose after a dive.

I was anxious to take my anti-nausea meds as soon as possible, so they told me I could take them by 1:30. I was so hungry! I kept having visions of huge meals, and every food sign we passed made my stomach growl. I knew it was probably the steroid and other meds, so I tried to eat lightly. So glad I did, because by 2 PM the super hunger changed to dull nausea, which hung around all day. I'm beginning to realize chemo days are going to be a bust for me - all I could do was lay around and feel miserable, unfortunately. The nasty feeling didn't subside until 10 PM, so I stayed awake awhile to enjoy feeling better, then went to bed. Took a Claritin to prepare for the Neulasta shot the next day.

Day 2
Felt great - just a bit dizzy. My stomach was turning flip-flops every time I was due to take the anti-nausea meds, so I took them on schedule. That afternoon I had the Neulasta shot - I immediately felt dizzy and out of it, but mostly ok. Ate pretty well that day, although slowly. Around 10 PM was when the aches and pains started.

Day 3
Looks like the day after Neulasta is going to be a bust, too. I was in so much pain, from the waist up, especially in my neck and shoulders and back. Feels like you've been punched all over - I kept expecting to see bruises, but it was just aching. Spent the entire day in pain, took a Claritin around 10 PM, and then the pain slowly dissipated.

Day 4
Still a bit achy and dizzy, but better. Had to take my anti nausea meds again, with my stomach doing somersaults. Was able to eat pretty well, spent most of the day resting, took a short walk in the evening.

Day 5
Woke up achy and dizzy, so I had to stay home. Felt better towards the evening, when I took a short walk and saw a movie.

Day 6
Back at work, but feeling pretty dizzy. Stomach a little fluttery, but got by without the anti nausea meds. Didn't take the Claritin to see if that's what's making me dizzy. Ate well.

Day 7
Back at work - not dizzy, and much more alert. I'm thinking it's definitely the Claritin which has made me so spacey. Ate well, but acid reflux is keeping me from enjoying coffee - feels like I'm swallowing a lit match. Boo.

Day 8
Had a tough time sleeping, after waking up at 2:30 AM with a sore throat and acid reflux. Didn't have much appetite, felt nauseated, was only able to do a half day at work.

Days 9-14
The main thing that bugged me was acid reflux - can't tolerate anything with tomatoes, or even a little bit of pepper. A real bummer because I love spicy food and pizza, both of which are too hard on me now. Hair loss is still happening, but patchy. I have a funny cap of shaved hair going strong on the top of my head - which is great because with that natural velcro top, I don't need a wig grip. :)

Friday, August 17, 2018

Chemotherapy update - Wigs!

Here's another post I hope will be helpful if you or someone you know is losing their hair. I knew nothing about wigs and hair loss before this, so here is what I've learned so far!

I did a lot of online research about the hair loss process, so I would know what to expect. It really helped me to have a plan - I did my wig shopping in advance, knowing that when I was on chemo, I wouldn't have the energy or emotional stability to get through it.

Haircut and Hair Buzz
First, I cut my hair into a cute, short bob - I knew my hair would fall out, but there would be less of it to fall out. 2 weeks after my first treatment, it started falling out in handfuls, so I took the plunge and got it shaved off. I had no idea what to ask for, so, I asked for the shortest setting on the clippers, which is a 1. I didn't want to look like Mr. Clean just yet. :)

   

It is hard to look into the mirror and see a shaved head, but I was a lot less emotional than I thought I would be. I won't be winning any beauty awards, but it looked a lot less terrible than I thought it would. I kind of felt like Ripley in glasses. And my head was a lot less lumpy and awkward than I had imagined. Ugh, but all those spiky little hairs as they fall out and poke me in the head are a real pain!

Wig Shopping
My goal was to have at least 1 moderately priced, good-quality wig, and a bunch of other cheap fun wigs for running to the store, going out, etc.

After a lot of research on Youtube, I settled on a cute side parted bob by Estetica called Jamison:
Jamison by Estetica

Jamison retails around $216, but many online stores have good sales that could put it in the $150 range. After wearing this wig for several days, I do think it is a nice quality wig that looks very realistic. It is very light and pretty comfortable, even for people with large heads like myself. The permatease in the scalp is pretty scratchy, but the bonus is you get more body in your hair if you want it. You can also manipulate the part a bit and the mesh / lace makes the scalp area look very real. Everyone who has seen this wig says it looks like real hair. I had some quality issues with the wig I received and had to exchange it, you can read more about that farther down.

Color Issues
Color is a challenge - because all you have is this one small photo of someone with a hair color not even remotely like yours. Being Hispanic, there is a real lack of models who look like me, so I really have to use my imagination and go out on a limb when ordering.

The first color I ordered, R4-6, looked like my hair color in the tiny thumbnail:
 
But when I received the wig and tried it on it just wasn't right - it was way too brown, and kind of a golden brown, that doesn't really show in the thumbnail. Again, I think this reveals a limitation for Hispanic, and Asian wig shoppers - there aren't a lot of colors with the right tone for us.

On my second try, I ordered R2-4, and that was a better match, but still a lot more brown than it appeared in the thumbnail:

But seriously guys, look at those tiny thumbnails - do they not look the same to you?

My best advice is to go into an actual wig store and try on to find the right shade. But in my experience the saleslady refused to give out style numbers and colors, assuming I would order it online. That was really off putting because I would happily order in person, and pay more if I had a good experience with her.

Ordering Wigs Online- Exchanges, Ugh
Exchange policies - do your research! The Jamison wig arrived with damage I could not see, but since it was shipped directly from the wig manufacturer Estetica, I have no way to prove it was damaged by them and not me. When I sent it back to the store they saw the damage and assumed I was responsible. I have been going back and forth with the store for 3 weeks - they are charging me for 2 wigs, even though I only have one. The customer service people have been very unsympathetic, even though I told them I was a first time wig buyer and a cancer patient on chemo with a limited budget.

So my advice is do your research on the store return policies and ask as many questions as possible upfront. I think I could have saved myself a lot of time and money that way. Based on my experience I would not recommend the store I purchased from, I don't even want to name them, but I'll let you know when I have a better experience.

Inexpensive Wigs
I found a great local wig shop with really affordable prices and the best part was that all the wigs were in the middle of the store and I could just put on a wig cap and try on every single one! I highly recommend visiting a local wig store like this because you really can't tell from a photo if a wig will look good on you or not. It's a great way to find which styles work for you.

My favorite inexpensive wigs so far are Bobbi Boss wigs:

Bobbi Boss Jesse wig - Color 4

Bobbi Boss has full price wigs in the $50-$60 range, but you can usually find them on sale for $25 and less. Their color options are a much better match for me, they do have lighter colors but their strength is dark colors.

I had a great experience ordering from Ebonyline.com. They had a good sale going, and with their $4.99 Flat rate shipping, I ordered my wigs on a Sunday night and had them by Thursday. They also had the lowest prices compared to other stores I saw.

So that's my experience with wigs so far. Do you have any good wig recommendations? Please leave a comment and let me know, or ask me any questions you might have!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Chemotherapy update

I thought I'd try to keep a log here on my personal blog of my experience of chemotherapy. I'm too shy to do a video log, but I found it so helpful to read through other people's accounts of their chemotherapy experience, I decided to add my own thoughts, for anyone who is curious and wants some insight into the process.

I am having 4 doses of AC, every other week, followed by 12 weekly treatments of Taxol.

My First Chemo Treatment

Everything went well, and I was out of the doctor's office within 3 hours. My understanding is I had a steroid and several anti-nausea meds, in addition to the chemo. Aside from the very last thing they gave me, which gave me a weird, prickly feeling in my nose (like when your head goes underwater and water goes up your nose) I didn't feel anything at all during treatment. I was alert, awake, and very hungry during and immediately afterward.

About 3 hours later, the nausea and dizziness kicked in. I had 2 anti-nausea meds to take - one is Zofran, a 12 hour med, and another to take if that one wasn't working. I was so nauseated that I took the Zofran first, then the other within an hour. Neither helped and I spent the next 8 hours feeling like I was about to throw up, although I never did. This was my most miserable evening - I tried everything to distract myself - reading, music, tv, and nothing helped - I just had to wait it out. In addition, 1 of these 2 meds gave me mild hallucinations, which were not pleasant.

Day 2
The next morning I felt better, though still dizzy and lightheaded. My stomach felt fluttery - like I was about to feel sick, and I had very little desire to eat. Even the thought of food made me feel like I might be sick, and I didn't want to smell food. I went back to the doctor to get a Neulasta shot - that went very quickly. I felt lightheaded afterwards, but that could have been just the chemo. The nurse told me that people who take Claritin in addition to the Neulasta shot feel less bone pain, so I gave it a try. I felt great that day, aside from my stomach feeling fluttery and not having much desire to eat.

Day 3
Sometime in the night, I started feeling very uncomfortable as I slept. My shoulders ached, my chest felt heavy, and it seemed hard to breathe. By the morning, I felt like my throat was swollen, and I was having a hard time swallowing. There was almost a clicking sound/feeling every time I tried to swallow. I felt pressure on my chest, like something was sitting on top of it, and making each breath difficult. Naturally, I was scared - I called my doctor, but as it was a weekend, it was awhile before they got back to me. Several hours passed, and I fell asleep. When I woke, I was feeling slightly better. The doctor decided it was not a typical side effect, and because I wasn't wheezing, they didn't think it was an allergic reaction. They told me if I started wheezing to go to the ER.

I felt better after that scare, and my major complaint was aching shoulders and a slight headache, and the same feeling, that I just didn't want to eat. Interestingly enough, as soon as I took my second dose of Claritin, the aching disappeared, I had more energy, and I felt much better.

Day 4
My main feeling was tiredness. I slept a lot later than usual (I never sleep in) and had pretty low energy. Still had very little interest in food.

Day 5
The same - I tried to wake up and get to work, but a wave of dizziness hit me, and I stayed home. This was the first day I didn't take the Zofran, and I was pleasantly surprised to find I was no longer nauseated. I started being able to eat a bit more, but I kept my diet very plain and simple - I just didn't crave anything else. I ate vanilla Greek yogurt, juice with a banana blended in, jello, applesauce, and something very small like a bean and cheese taco - for some reason that is the one normal food I HAVE been craving. :)

Day 6
I was able to go to work, but my walk from the parking lot was a struggle. I went up 1 flight of stairs and felt like my heart was going to pop out of my chest, I can't remember ever struggling so hard! Very short walks were likewise a struggle. By lunchtime I was wiped out so I went home, and actually felt so dizzy on the way home I wondered if I should be driving.

Day 7
A replay of the day before, again I was wiped out by noon, and had very little energy for short walks and stairs. But this was the first day I started craving normal foods - to celebrate, we ordered a pizza. I struggled to get down 2-3 slices - which is very weird for this pizza-lover!

Day 8
I dressed for work and was hit with another wave of dizziness and nausea, so I had to stay home. I spent most of the day sleeping, off and on. I had a bit more energy and appetite. I cooked our first real dinner that night, and ate well.

Day 9
Today is the first, most "normal" day I have had so far. I slept well, was hungry for breakfast, hungry for lunch, and for the first time craved coffee (which I normally love).

Updated to add:
Days 10-13
Feeling pretty close to normal - normal energy, able to multi-task. Main thing that has stuck around is the noisy stomach and acid reflux anytime I eat anything with tomato, drink coffee, or have anything spicy.

Day 14
Today, the day before my second treatment, was when my hair loss began. I'd been losing little bits here and there, which seemed normal but this morning, every time I ran my hands through my hair, hair came out. Every time. I'll let it stick around for a few days, and maybe get it buzzed this weekend.

Weird Things I Have Noticed While on Chemo

  1. Sudden exhaustion - One minute I'll feel fine - the next, completely winded and exhausted.
  2. Slow walking - I feel like I walk like an 80 year old. 
  3. Hard to focus - Particularly the first few days after chemo, it was hard to multi-task. I could only keep track of 1-2 things at a time.
  4. Not wanting to eat - It's hard to describe - sometimes my stomach will be growling, but I don't want to eat, or even think about eating.
  5.  I stink! Literally! There is a strange, unusually nasty smell coming from my armpit (but only the normal arm, where I didn't have lymph nodes removed.) I know, TMI, but I felt so freaked out, I'd like other people not to be taken by surprise.
  6.  Acid reflux, noisy stomach, and very frequent trips to the bathroom. I have to sleep propped up, or I'll get a burning in my throat. Some days, especially right after chemo, I felt like I lived in the bathroom. :)
  7. Dark under-eye circles - I noticed these right after my first treatment, because I have never had dark circles before.
  8. Hot flashes - Yup, I'm getting them.

I didn't want this list to be totally negative, so I thought of a few things that I see as "good things" that have come from being on chemo.

Things I Have Enjoyed While on Chemo

  1. I appreciate little things much more - when I do feel good, I feel so happy about it that I can enjoy it more.
  2. Reading - I've been reading through the Little House series of books. It's not difficult, and strangely comforting.
  3. Not being online - I go online as little as possible when I'm feeling poorly, and it helps me stay calm and focused.
  4. Not stressing about things that don't matter - when my energy is at a minimum, I put aside the things that are not deal-breakers, and don't let myself worry about them.
  5. Prayer and quiet time - When I'm feeling most worried, I pray. I also find moments to sit and just "be" without having any plan or goal.
  6. Walking slowly, you see more - Slowing down has made me more aware of what's going on around me.
  7. No energy for anger - I can't muster up the energy to be super-angry, so I'm not. :)
Well, that's the breakdown of how I am feeling so far after my first chemo treatment. To anyone going through chemo who is reading this, I hope it won't be a source of fear or discouragement, but maybe it will help you feel less alone if you are feeling the same things. Everyone is different, and not everyone will react the same way, so don't let this scare you! Another thing I have noticed is I have no energy for stitching and crafting on my weak days, so I just try to make up for it on days I feel well.