It’s been 12 days since I finished chemo and radiation. I won’t lie to you, people, it’s been a rough 12 days.
Recovery from the chemo was better, and worse, than my other sessions. It was better in that I was able to stay hydrated this time because of the feeding tube in my belly. Every day, no matter how badly I felt, I made sure I ingested at least 6-8 cups of water through the tube. That made a significant difference in my recovery. I didn’t get dehydrated like last time and, thus, avoided the hospital.
It was worse this time around because the nausea hit me immediately. The last two times, I had a 2-3 day wait before the meds wore off and I felt sick. This time, I was sick the same day and it didn’t relent for over a week. I vomited several times a day.
To top it off, the radiation side effects reached their peak at this time. My throat and esophagus were so traumatized from the radiation that the pain was a constant companion. Additionally, the wounds in my throat “seeped” slime and mucus, causing me to gag every few minutes, thereby increasing the likelihood that I would vomit.
I have to carry a cup around with me, because the thick mucus and healing seepage can’t be swallowed else I will vomit. I look like a redneck with a dip cup. It’s so disgusting. My salivary glands haven’t kicked back in yet – but I still make mucus. I didn’t know that mucus and saliva are two separate things. Without saliva to dilute it, the mucus is so thick and nasty that it grosses me out to even think about it.
As you can imagine, I haven’t had a fun week. As I predicted, I did lose weight. I dropped to 155lbs. I have a 29inch waist now – amazing. My skin is hanging from me, though; I now know what they mean when they refer to someone as a “bag of bones.”
The good news is that I turned a corner yesterday. My throat, while still painfully letting me know that it’s healing, has stopped “seeping” quite so much. I still have thick mucus, but the “green” seepage is starting to go away.
Also, I’ve started eating more through my tube again. As I recovered from chemo, I was lucky to get four cans of the tube feeding formula in me a day – the doctors want me to have seven. I’m back up to five cans.
I went to my oncologist yesterday for a followup. My blood counts are, of course, in the toilet. I need to be very careful for the next few weeks until they climb back up again. The doctor examined me and was very pleased with my status, but told me I needed a few more weeks of recovery before I could return to work. He’s worried about my general weakness, my throat issues, and of course my blood counts.
So, although I had tentatively hoped to go back to work in a week, it looks like it will be 3-4 more weeks of disability. I am not happy; I am stir crazy, but I know it’s for the best. I was so worn out just from going to the doctor yesterday that I fell asleep in the car on the way home.
I get a new set of PET scans and MRI scans in about 8 weeks. My oncologist is confident we dealt with the cancer, but these scans will definitely confirm that. Of course, I’ll be getting these scans every 90 days for a while – but I have high hopes that it will be, as my doctor said, another 38 years before we have to deal with this again.