Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Other Crazy Side-Effects

I've been meaning to expand upon the side-effects of the chemotherapy treatment. In addition to the nausea, fatigue, and feeling painfully hungover, there are also some less known and peculiar side-effects. The craziest one is the cold sensitivity I experience, as a result of the Oxaliplatin. Whenever I leave the hospital after the infusion and the weather is cold, my skin is painfully sensitive to the air. Any time the temperature is below freezing, the wind blowing on my face, it feels like I'm walking head on into a freezing rain storm or more specifically, as if I'm been walking into a freezing rain storm for a few minutes and my face begins to get numb; my hands & feet feel like I have piercing "pins and needles," the sides of my eye lids (furthest from my nose) tighten to the point that they're nearly closed, the inside of my nose gets "pins & needles;" and should I inhale through my mouth, my throat feels like I have ice sitting in it.

And as far as being inside, I have a pair of fleece gloves on top of the refrigerator so I can remove what I need from the fridge and freezer without getting "pins and needles" in my fingers or at least without getting it as bad as I would were they not protecting my fingers from direct contact with the cold. When I wash fruit or vegetables, I have to then run hot water over my fingers to end the "pins & needles" sensation from the the cold water I rinse the produce with. And of course I also have to immediately dry my hands after warming them with the hot water or else once they cool off, the dampness cools my hands to the point that they get "pins & needles" again. Juice from fruit running onto my fingers will cause it. Handling tons of greens while making Green Juice, an absolute must, will cause it. And usually when I get out of bed in the morning and walk into the living room to turn up the heat as we begin our day, my fingers feel it just from the cold air. I also can't drink anything cold or even slightly less than room temperature because such things cause my throat to feel as if something is stuck in the back of it.

I have lots of wool socks, a pair of down-filled mittens, a fleece neck warmer I can pull up over my face, and I have those little hand-&-glove warmers in my glove box and coat pockets, should I find myself in the cold with no heat source. You know. Should the car break down in the cold weather, I am not interested in the temporary loss of use of my hands or feet because of my chemo cold sensitivity!

Oddly, my hands also cramp for the first few days following treatment as a result of the Oxaliplatin. After the first few treatments, the cramping was happening quite frequently. I would open a jar of something or play my guitar or be playing with Legos with my boy, and my fingers would just cramp up until I kind of worked them back into a normal position again. My nurses that do my systemic treatments here at Cayuga Medical Center, said they would slow down the infusion from two hours to four hours. I suggested that perhaps they just couldn't get enough of me and were doing whatever it took to keep me there longer. However I could be mistaken...considering that lengthening the infusion made a huge difference and minimized the cramping compared to my previous treatments. Oh well...

On a good note, the sessions I recorded with the brilliant hynotherapist I've been working with have had a deeply positive impact on my state of mind while I experience the worst of the chemo side-effects. As I mentioned in the January 25th post, when the side-effects are at their worst, my mental attitude and sense of hope is at it's worst. So when the chemo already has me "behind the eight-ball" and then I find myself feeling angry or disappointed with another person, I sometimes go down a road where upset leads the way and gratitude for life has vanished. And we all know anger does not heal a thing. And if anything, it's food for disease. So, when I find myself feeling that way, I lay down, put on my headphones, and listen to one of the hypnotherapy sessions. They're amazingly powerful. I let go of my expectations of others and return to peacefulness and gratitude for my life. My coach tells me that her work with burn victims provided her the opportunity to observe how hypnotherapy retrained the mind's of her patients, much as I am doing for myself, and created a quicker return to a positive and hopeful attitude about their health and future. That combined with daily meditation has been a powerful source of wellness for me. I have much to be grateful for.


  1. So glad that your sessions help you feel better. Keep up the warm thoughts and actions! Thinking of you!

  2. Wonderful post! I'm new to your blog (came across it in my quest to learn more about colon cancer, which my father has been diagnosed with). I appreciate your honesty here, it's quite refreshing. I wanted to share a resource, which my father has been using, if you're interested: - Being diagnosed has been really hard on him. He says it's almost impossible to block out those negative thoughts. Anyway, you will be in my thoughts, as well! Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. I remember the weird side-effects of chemo drugs. It is pretty amazing the gyrations they can put the body, nerves, brain, emotions through. I am really glad you are plugged into access to the deeper mind (my words for the work of a good hypnotherapist). I remember the peace that came when everything else in my body & life felt shot-to-hell, there was a quiet place - deep and quiet place I could retreat to...that gave me solace. So glad you are experiencing a version of this for yourself.

    Peace...gentle wishes,
    -Elizabeth M.