I’m a little later posting this than I intended to be, about a week later.
Cycle 8 started on June 29th.
We kept the oxaliplatin at a lower dose that cycle and the doc discussed stopping it for cycle 9. He continues to say I’m doing really well, much better than most through the process. We still haven’t had to delay any treatments or talk about stopping. He’s amazed I’m still working.
My hair thinning was getting sort of ridiculous. The last time I tried to dye it, I still had a lot of red on the hair and tried to do a turquoise color on top of it. It mixed with the red and made a nice dark purple, but my SCALP was turquoise.
That was it. I decided it was time to go bald.
I went to a hairdresser to have it done (even though roomie had been begging to let him do it for ages). It was nice. They did a scalp massage, hot towel treatment, she used clippers on the shortest setting. I probably could have left it like that, but part of the plan was for Chandra (my daughter) to do henna patterns on my bald head, so she the hairdresser then went over it with a straight razor. She was very careful, no nicks or anything. It was a good experience. I felt pampered.
I posted the above pic on Facebook, and people commented that I was “bad ass” or “brave”. It didn’t feel that way to me. It felt like this was just the next step in the process and I might as well embrace it instead of fight it.
The next day, Chandra did the henna. I showed her 5 or 6 images of other bald henna heads that I liked, discussed what I liked about each of them and then just let her have it. She combined elements from different patterns and did some of her own thing. I think it turned out awesome.
These little things make me feel good emotionally. But this still isn’t an easy process. It seems, based on things I’ve read and people I’ve talked to, that in some ways, my road has been a bit easier than most other people’s. I can eat most of the time. I’m maintaining my weight (in general, I still need to lose, but during chemo, the docs prefer if you maintain). I am able to keep working most of the time.
But I also feel really weak and tired. If I wasn’t working, I’d probably be sleeping more than 12 hours a day. When I went for a short walk around the apartment complex (to catch Pokemon, of course!) I had to sit and rest several times. I did a big grocery trip for the first time in weeks, and by the time I was at the checkout, I was shaking and had to actually accept help out to the car with my bags (which I never do). I HATE being weak (especially when the compliment I get the most is about my mental/emotional strength. I like to try to match my physical strength to the perceived emotional strength – if that makes any sense).
I’m not the best housekeeper in the best of times. I’m grateful that roomie has taken on most of the domestic duties recently, especially the laundry (the laundry room is a longer walk across the complex now in our new apartment). Don’t know what I’d do without that help (maybe bribe my kid to come over and help sometimes?) I can’t carry the laundry. I can’t take the full trash bags out. I can’t stand up long enough to clean the kitchen in one go.
The way my treatment works is that on Wed of treatment week, I get medication over a couple of hours. Then I take one medication home with me in a fanny pack, attached to my port. Friday, I go back in and they unhook the fanny pack from my port. At this point, I’ve got the maximum poison in my system. Also at this point, I start to feel really listless and sick. I still haven’t actually vomited since cycle 2 (which I think is AMAZING), but I get this particular . . . bile taste in my mouth/throat. It’s very specific. It’s different than other times I’ve been sick (pre-chemo), even different from the green bile I vomited when my gall bladder rebelled. I tend to think of it as “chemo-sick” rather than simply “sick”. And I get gassy, burping more than ever before in my life.
This is better than many people have it. I know this. But it’s still not easy.