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!