Thursday, May 8, 2008

Side Effects

This morning I was hit with another bout of diarrhea. I am very hesitant about sharing this side effect because it's well...gross. Ya know? Well, the reason I mentioned it is because it was accompanied by cramps that were so painful they were nearly agonizing. Whenever I want instant pain relief, I take 5 mg of liquid morphine because it 's must faster than the 5 mg pill form. Well, this morning when the cramping was at it's worst, I took a 10 mg liquid dose and within about 45 minutes, I was asleep.

Daniela called to let the staff know I would be late to my radiation appointment and they kindly said, once I arrived, they would fit me in as soon as they could. Once we did arrive, my friend Adrienne, went in to let them know I would be in momentarily and asked that I be given a place to lay down. I got in and within a couple of minutes I was laying down on an examination table and soon fell asleep. About a half-an-hour later they gave me my treatment and we were on our way home. My abdomen was very sore then and the soreness has continued all day long.

The pain and side effects I have experienced as of late are worse than any discomforts I experienced while on Gerson Therapy, minus the gall stones I passed last Fall. It feels that way to me because a Gerson detox flare-up is a good thing. It's a clear sign of the body detoxifying and getting healthier. Even the oral Castor Treatments I did on Gerson Therapy - as painful as they were, were a positive sign. But the side effects from chemotherapy and radiation are not signs of progress, but reactions to the poisoning, which can create additional problems and for me this makes it more difficult to deal with.

And each time I have one of these side effects, I remind myself that I do my final radiation treatment on Thursday May 15th. Only five more anxiety filled trips to Sayre, PA and then it's done. The anxiety I experience is a result of my concerns about whether I will make it to a bathroom in time. I have made it to the bathroom every time so far. But you can understand, I'm sure, that I just want to get to my treatment with no accidents because they me lay me face down on the table with my pants down and raise me right up close to their faces and then line me up for the treatment. With the techs that up close and personal with me and my behind, at a time when I am finding it harder and harder to get myself to the bathroom in time, I get a bit anxious. My anxiety may be a bit silly, but regardless it is there for me. And, I keep reminding myself - this too shall pass.

On a positive note, my appetite has slowly been coming back and it is now much easier for me to eat. Once this chemotherapy induced mouth sore is gown, I will be eating plenty and I am very much looking forward to it.


  1. Good morning, Bert. Chronic diarrhea is a problem I've lived with as long as I've had Lyme Disease -- 19 years -- so I am fully sympathetic to your anxiety and (at times, I'm sure) near-despair. I hold all of you daily in thought and prayer. Love, Beth

  2. You're nearing the finish line. Hang in there. Just a few more days.

    No idea if any of this will help you, but here are a couple of things I did during my last week of radiation to alleviate things: I sipped water/gatorade. Drinking would trigger another round of diarrhea for me. In the middle of the night (3AM or so) I'd nibble on parts of a saltine to lessen the gas feeling, I also took OTC antacid pills at night, but I don't think they helped that much. I also went in for a saline drip. That helped a lot.

    Looking forward to hearing about your graduation!

  3. Bert,

    I know it's hard to think about the side effects of chemo being signs that the treatment is working, but I think they are.

    After every chemo treatment (and I was lucky enough to only have 4, so I can't imagine what you are feeling right now!) I had at least one episode of bloody stool, sometimes two. A nurse friend explained it to me as the sloughing off of surface cells in my intestines, some areas of which were probably especially vulnerable because of my history of IBS, thus the blood.

    To me, that means that the chemo was working - chemotherapy kills not just cancer cells, but any fast-dividing cells, which means the cells lining our mouths (thus the mouth sores) and our sinuses (my nose has been runny every day since chemo started), our hair, our fingernails, our bone marrow (thus the impact on our white and red blood cell counts).

    When my hair started falling out the day before my second treatment (which was earlier than they said it would fall out), I was kind of freaked about it, but my partner and friends reminded me that it must mean the chemo was really working. Since then, every time I have some chemo-related discomfort, like the bloody stool, I try to remember that it means the chemo is working.

    I hope that helps.

    Take care.