If I had to sum up all of the thoughts, feelings, and experiences I had during my first round of chemo it would definitely be “expect the unexpected.” The day of my first treatment I went into it with high hopes and nothing but positive thoughts to calm my anxiety. It was my first round so each medication I required had to be injected separately in case I was allergic or had a reaction to any of the medications. The pre meds I was prescribed were extremely easy and took about 30 minutes. Now here comes the “Chemo” my chemo consists of 4 different drugs which I won’t even attempt to remember what they are called, but man are they powerful. Each one has a different time frame for how long it’s injected into my skin, and then there’s the really fun one that the nurse manually has to put into my IV and I call it the Red Devil. The Red Devil is what causes hair loss in chemo patients. My treatment overall took about 3 hours which isn’t bad considering some patients sit for 4 or 5. The nurse finally leaves and I’m just thinking to myself “well that wasn’t so bad.” Little did I know tonight was the calm before the storm. Being stuck in this hospital bed I have a pretty routine time that I fall asleep, and it’s about 9 PM and I’m starting to feel the nausea hit me. I call the nurse for medication and my sleeping pill so I can call it a day. The next morning the nurse comes in and tells me that hopefully today will be the day I’m released for the hospital and I’ve never been so excited in my life. I get out of bed and take my version of a shower these days. Not so easy with an abundance of cords and an IV connected to you. About an hour later the nurse comes in and says I have officially received the approval to be discharged and go home! The feeling I had goes beyond excitement it has been a long and exhausting 2 weeks. I know this is just the beginning but being able to be home with my fur babies and not having people take my vitals all hours of the day and night. I go into the bathroom and very excitedly take off this awful hospital gown and put on my new black leggings, and my “fight cancer” shirt that my step mom made me. I feel a weight lifted off as I get to finally be back at home and focus on my new “normal” I underestimated the overwhelming feelings of emotions I would experience as I walked outside of the hospital just coming to realize I hadn’t been outside and felt fresh air in 2 weeks. I hadn’t seen any people other than my family, doctors, and other patients. I hadn’t been in the car or been stuck in traffic. As my husband begins to drive away from the hospital I start to cry as I’m looking out the window, not because I am sad but because I just came to realize all the little things we take for granted on a daily basis and never realize it. I began to realize and have a new appreciation for the little things and stopped viewing it as “I have to do this” and instead changed it to “I get to.” I get to go home and continue my treatments every two weeks. As we pull into the garage I am so excited to see my two fur babies! My husband and I don’t have children yet so our fur babies are our entire world. I am taken over by the jumping and excitement and it’s then I realize I’m not as strong as I was and the car ride home and just 5 minutes with the dogs has me exhausted.
The side effects begin…..
I feel like as human beings we always have hope that we will be the “exception” to the rule or “that could never happen to me” well when it comes to Round 1 of my chemotherapy and side effects the only way to explain it is Murphy’s Law. Whatever could go wrong would go wrong, and let me tell you it did. I woke up the next day with excruciating mouth sores and a sore throat. On top of that the nausea was like something I’ve never experienced before, put it this way, take the worst hangover you’ve ever had and multiple that by about 25 and that’s the stomach pain I experienced day 2 after chemo. They tell you in the hospital to make sure you’re constantly eating and drinking water, so I thought to myself I drink more water than most people and all I think about is food so I got this. Well no I didn’t have it, not only did I not have an appetite for anything I recently discovered that water and just about everything I was attempting to eat either hurt so bad because of my mouth sores or it just tasted disgusting to me. With that being said I wasn’t eating or drinking enough fluids which resulted in me losing about 7lbs in 4 days. For most of you 7lbs doesn’t seem like it would even mean anything, but for me I started to see my legs get skinnier and I could see the outlining of my ribs, and this only caused more stress on myself and my husband especially. I have weighed 111 lbs for the last 6 years and to lose 7lbs was a reality check that this is going to be a rough ride if I don’t figure out how to take care of myself while dealing with these treatments. The next few days involved a lot of medication and sleeping for hours and hours. A week later I am starting to feel somewhat “normal” again. It’s finally time for my follow up appointment since I’ve had my first treatment and been at home. We pull up to the parking lot and instantly I’m filled with anxiety. It’s my turn to see the nurse and I explain to her all the side effects I’ve been having and everything I’m mentioning is unfortunately completely normal, but she hands me a binder filled with information about chemotherapy (which I wish I had from the start) and it explains EVERYTHING it’s honestly the holy grail of figuring how to navigate treatments. I am relieved to know everything I’ve been going through and feeling is normal and she prescribes me more medications to hopefully take care of my side effects. Next we go over my blood work and my results aren’t the best, so they advise me to be cautious about being in public places and to make sure I avoid any one who is sick. Finally we schedule my next round of treatment and I get to go home. The next few days I really start to feel like myself again, and I begin to think I’m getting the hang of this whole thing.
Until next time…
Xoxo Bechtold Badass