Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Good Times

On Sunday night I was hit hard with new symptoms: diarrhea and unprecedented gas & gas pain. It was incredibly unpleasant, especially since I currently have something comparable to sunburn on my backside. Regardless of how bad it stings to "clean up", obviously it still must be done and with multiple trips to the bathrrom, it started to hurt like the dickens. I had been using an ointment called Calmoseptine - a moisture barrier/skin softener - which did provide me some relief.

So, on Monday when I went to my radiation treatment, I asked that the Nurse Practitioner to have a look and see what could be done to provide me some relief from this "sunburn" issue. She had a look and said the rash on my my behind had now opened up and was getting raw - Nice, huh? She assured me they had some more "tricks up their sleeves." I went to an exam room and was seen by a nurse who provided me with two ointments mixed together - one is a numbing medication and the other is a antibacterial. That definitely helped give me some relief and it still doing a darn good job.

She also had a look at the sore that had developed on the inside of my bottom lip - a result of the 5-FU chemotherapy treatment. She gave me a numbing solution that provided a little relief, but it was the "Magic Mouthwash" - a serious prescription mouth numbing medicine - that provided me the most relief. I only need to put a dab of it on the sore on my lip and I can eat without pain for about 20 minutes. Prior to that I was barely eating and only eating cold foods and not much at that. It just hurt to much.

So after providing me relief for both of my stinging ailments, she examined me further and determined I have Jock Itch - a common fungal infection that really itches and definitely a result of the chemotherapy weakening my immune system. So, there I was with stinging mouth sores, abdominal/gas bloating/pain, a stinging/"sunburned" backside, soreness from the previous nights diarrhea, and then I'm told I have jock itch. Okay. Good times.

Well, Monday night was another bout of diarrhea, the mega-gas/abdominal pain, the stinging "entrance & exit" and now flu symptoms. I was almost ready to give up because it was just knocking me down hard. So on Tuesday, the Nurse Practitioner from the Chemotherapy Department took one look at my mouth and recommended a break from the chemotherapy until my mouth healed. As I sat with her and shared all of my symptoms, I felt like I had been beaten. Emotionally, I was losing my strength. So, to hear that I would get a break from the chemotherapy was music to my ears. Dr. Allerton also found some sores developing under my tongue and ordered the chemotherapy to stop until my radiation treatment was complete. My only concern about stopping the chemotherapy was the idea of the cancer getting a jump and starting to grow again. They both assured me that it was not a big deal and how necessary it was to allow my mouth to heal before it got real bad. The guy next to me in the chemotherapy room had the inside of his entire mouth become essentially one big painful sore. Yeah. He was admitted for 10-days, immediately taken off of 5-FU and given a temporary feeding tube. These mouth sores can definitely be a serious problem.

So, I spent an hour in the chemotherapy room with a Saline IV to rehydrate my system and the knowledge that I was going to be off of chemotherapy for a couple weeks. I had gotten dehydrated because the mouth sore was so bad, it was painful to even drink water. Amazingly, it's only been about 10 hours since I was ordered off of the chemotherapy and my mouth sore is already healing.

****You're not going to believe this. I was just in the bathroom doing a salt, baking soda & water mouth rinse (to treat my mouth sores) and after I was done, I wiped my mouth off with a towel and in doing so, took off the top layer of the sore on my lower lip. Oh yeah. That stung just a wee bit.

On a positive note, I only have seven radiation treatments left. Thursday May 15th is my last day. Remembering that has been a very effective tool in keeping me going. And I'm also happy to say that I have been forgetting to take my morphine for multiple hours at a time and haven't even realized it. I'm thinking the tumor is shrinking from the treatment resulting in less pain. I sure hope so.


  1. hey bert,karen steigerwald cummings here.(jims sister ).i have been checking up on you on your blog here , as my whole family does almost every day. it sounds like you are having quite a time with sores. i know of a conction that you can take for you mouth.its green,with lidocaine,maalox,and something else for pain but the doc can order it for you.keep drinking,use straws if you can.i am glad you are getting a break from chemo.as you can see im not a typist so please forgive. take care,love you and your family.

  2. Sounds like a chemo vacation is well deserved.

    Like you, while on chemo I found that a saline bag can make a huge difference, especially at the end of each week's cycle. It's so easy to get dehydrated while on 5-FU. Towards the end I didn't have a saline drip every week, but I had it more often than not. It helped me get through the rough days a little easier though I too eventually had to take a chemo vacation.

    In terms of the other pain you mention, I know what you're talking about. It can be extremely intense. There are lots of nerves in the area. It sounds like you're doing lots of good things to mitigate the pain though. Just a few more days to go!

  3. Hang in, hang on...count down those days. Every treatment brings you closer to the finish line. You have rings of people praying, thinking, affirming, and visualizing your complete recovery.
    Hallelujah to less pain. Bye bye tumor!

  4. Jock itch?

    I think there is a joke in that somewhere, but I will leave it alone.