I have become high maintenance.
When you have cancer you don’t just sit around the house being tired and trying to get better. Granted, you spend some time time sitting around because of the fatigue, but I think part of the fatigue has nothing to do with treatment. Part of it is because cancer just plain old takes a lot of time and the body needs a lot of upkeep.
I’m not one who is used to spending a great deal of time on maintaining herself. I prefer to spend my time doing things like hiking and reading and writing. I even prefer to clean toilets and kill dust bunnies to spending a lot of time on personal maintenance. By personal maintenance I don’t mean general cleanliness, I mean things you have to do to keep yourself going and healthy.
You might think that since I’m on leave from work there would be “plenty of time” for me to do all those fun things I like to do. Not so. Why not? Well, for one thing last week I went to seven doctor’s appointments in five days. Yes, two of those were for Daniel (orthodontist and sinus infection), but when you calculate all that driving and all that waiting around in doctors’ offices coupled with chemo fatigue… well, there goes an entire week.
Even if I do manage to stay home and away from the doctor’s office, there’s a lot of maintenance to do. As my sister pointed out, I have to take medicine to fight medicine. The naturopath has prescribed some wonderful supplements that help me fight the worst effects of the chemo so I can have some semblance of a normal life. What this looks like on a daily basis is this —-
I take two pills (mushroom extract) in the morning one hour before I eat breakfast. Then I wash up and put some SPF 60 sunscreen on my face because it wards off some of the worse skin reactions I’ve been getting from chemo. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=vitamins&iid=75120″ src=”0072/57a8ada8-7752-454a-97d8-48b728fcafba.jpg?adImageId=10054508&imageId=75120″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]
With breakfast I take 12 more capsules of various different stuff that would take too much space to describe here. After breakfast I drink a protein shake that has a few other powders in it, one of which prevents peripheral neuropathy. Most people who are on this particular chemo as long as I have been end up with numb and tingling toes and fingers and sometimes that never goes away.
I get a break from pills at lunch, but mid-afternoon I take two more mushroom extract pills, and 10 more capsules with dinner. Some time in there I also now have to take an antibiotic to fight the skin infections I’ve been getting as a result of a trashed immune system. This antibiotic must be taken on an empty stomach, can’t be taken with the mushroom capsules, and can’t be taken within one hour of an iron supplement or a dairy product — I take an iron supplement both with breakfast and dinner. The antibiotic is also hard on your stomach so it’s not advisable to take it at bed time. This is a major puzzle for me, but I’ve been finding a slot here and there to take the thing.
At bedtime I wash my face carefully and put on a gel that, again, helps fight a bad skin infection that flares up on my face on Tuesdays after chemo. Nice, eh? I soooo look forward to purple-face Tuesdays. I also have more of my anti-neuropathy powder (L-glutamine), another powder that helps my digestive system, and some melatonin to help me sleep. Sometimes I also take a Benadryl if the chemo has been giving me a rash.
So, there you go. A day in the life of someone who feels like she’s fighting chemo more than cancer.
[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=bleach&iid=162333″ src=”0158/11b772c6-163c-4770-b4d2-f64d608abd0d.jpg?adImageId=10056800&imageId=162333″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]Oh, and a couple of times a week I need to take a bleach bath to, again, fight that skin infection, which turned out to be a strep infection of the skin rather than a staph infection, which is more normal for the skin. But, hey, nothing acts normally when you’re being poisoned regularly with chemo. (Bleach bath: 1/2 cup bleach to 40 gallons of water, which is the amount in a normal bathtub. Soak for 10 minutes 2 to 3 times a week. This is, apparently, also helpful for eczema, MRSA, and staph infections of the skin.)
And then, of course, there are all those doctor appointments. Seven in a five-day period is a record, but I can expect to go to the doctor a minimum of twice a week unless I put my foot down and tell them I don’t want to see them or hear from them for at least two weeks.
Please note that I’m not complaining about all these pills and other maintenance. They are definitely working to make me feel as well as possible and I have how I felt with my first chemo five years ago to use as a baseline.
I hope this helps you understand why many cancer patients run screaming out of their doctors’ offices, never to return. It’s oh so very tempting.