Drugs Play Havoc with Your Taste Buds

Monday 8th February

This is a weird ill. It’s like nothing you can even describe.

On Monday I woke up after a good sleep at about 5.30 am, proudly achieved without the aid of the sleeping tablets, but I’d slept from 8 pm so it was a long one for me. I feel okay. Not great, but okay. I’ve got a sore throat and a bit of a cough so I’ll keep an eye on that. The decorator is in today so I intended to get up and take the dog out. That didn’t happen. Today’s been tough. I’ve had bouts of feeling okay and then utterly shite. They warned me that the lack of steroids would plummet me through the floor. They were right!!! Christ, today’s been a roller coaster. I feel rough, way worse than a hangover.

All my friends have checked in today which is just yummy. This is a weird ill. It’s like nothing you can even describe. I feel hungry but full, my throats sore, odd bits of my body ache, my mouth is sore and my eyes have leaked a couple of times. The boys and I ate the chicken and leek pie tonight, let me tell you just how great it was even with a slight tinge of metal – that’s me, not the pie. The drugs play havoc with your taste buds. I’ve eaten a lot today for me, but I think my body probably needs the energy. I’m close to rattling with the painkillers, Senna tables, anti-sickness and thyroxin.

Tuesday 9th February

And so to Tuesday. God, I hate to say this just in case it doesn’t last, but I feel so much better than yesterday. I’ve still got a sore throat and coughing a bit but I feel a lot more ‘with the programme’. I’m wondering if I can make it to a meeting in Boston I’d booked. Got up showered dressed, got Bob on, make-up done (I look shit, by the way) and arrived in Boston early.

I struggled to get the car in the garage – took me 8 attempts, I feel quite disorientated.

When I was introduced to the client, I laughingly told them all that they were ‘the enemy’ and that I couldn’t shake their hand for fear of infection, before sitting there with my water and antibacterial hand gel. It was a good meeting, although I noticed that my brain wasn’t functioning very well and I seem to lose my train of thought and forget the words I want to use. It’s rather embarrassing, to say the least. I’m renowned for being a million miles an hour and this is somewhat debilitating for someone like me. Came home utterly and absolutely exhausted. I struggled to get the car in the garage – took me 8 attempts, I feel quite disorientated. Saw my parents in the afternoon. They’d just returned from six weeks away and went through the expected conversation. It’s all a bit awkward, to be honest. We have an odd relationship – maybe this journey will help us with sorting it out. Who knows! All I know right now is I feel rough as hell and I just want to get into bed.

Woke up about six times in the night with a really poorly tummy. I’d had to take some of the medication yesterday they’d given me to help me go… yeah, sorry! Who wants to chat bowel movements? It wasn’t the best night I’ve ever had, I must say.

Wednesday 10th February

Thank God for Murder She Wrote, is all I can say.

Wednesday began. Such a beautiful day, the sun streaming through the windows. It was just beautiful. Shame I didn’t look or feel the same. Okay, so I accept I completely overdid it yesterday. My bad, I’ll learn. And as punishment, I’ve spent the whole day sat in my pit, festering and feeling poorly. I feel sick, upset tummy, earache, sore throat. In fact, my whole bloody body aches. Ankles, breast bone, it’s mighty weird.

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Kobe looking after me

Oh my God, I could just moan all day; such a shame there’s no one here to listen to me whine. Thank God for Murder She Wrote, is all I can say. I can do my classic watching skills and just half watch it. This afternoon I just feel progressively worse. Conor came home and we took a gentle walk with the dog into the town which was good and great to get out. Stayed in the rest of the day and by the time 8 pm arrived I can honestly tell you I felt like my body was dying. The only parts of my body that didn’t hurt, ache or was in pain were my toes and fingers. Everything else including body parts I’ve never even felt before hurt. I’m not much of a crier as I’ve mentioned, and I think I’ve got quite a high pain threshold, but let me tell you, today I’ve sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. Unbelievable. Whilst I’ll never give in, I have to say that I can completely understand why people would rather just die than go through this. It’s indescribably awful.

Thursday 11th February

On Thursday I woke up feeling sort of okay, but then got progressively worse, slept on and off till about 9 pm. Honestly, I just wish I could articulate and explain exactly how this makes you feel. I guess the only thing I can say is that it’s like your body is dying from the inside out. Arguably that’s what cancer does, I know, but the chemical infusion I’ve had just feels so toxic and heavy and, well, just wrong.

Friday 12th February

I’m happy. I’m feeling brighter – the storm seems to have passed.

OMG what a great day Friday was! I feel soooooooo much better. Took Bob out for a visit to see a client in Chesterfield with Sarah, who by the way is doing an amazing job. This experience so far has started to teach me many things about myself that I need to change. Control has always been important to me (has that come across yet?) but having been able to do literally nothing this last week and just leaving Sarah to it, she’s just excelled. She’s got some new business in, been to see some clients, looked after the team, made some great decisions and I simply couldn’t be happier. I’m excited at the same time. It’s been like party central here this evening, friends with food – a girl can’t complain about that. I’m happy. I’m feeling brighter – the storm seems to have passed.

April 25

 

Bob, Me and the HGV

Being bald isn’t actually that bad. It’s amazing how quickly you get used to it. I find myself taking Bob off when I leave work and drive home. I’ve had some funny looks but to be honest I really couldn’t give a shit… so what??? And it’s soooooo comfy. I do seem to spend a lot of time touching my head which is a bit weird I guess. Now we’re all different, but I can’t bring myself to buy one of those “look at me, I’ve got cancer” headscarf things. I just think it’s a bit tragic. If I’m truthful I don’t think I look that bad and apparently I have a “nice” shaped head. As IF people say that to me!

I’d completely forgotten I’d left Bob on the passenger seat so when I opened the window to ask what was wrong the look on his face was absolutely priceless…

Now, I haven’t mentioned this before but my really good friend Karen had a stroke a couple of weeks ago so we’ve now changed who visits who. She’s clearly the most poorly. What I didn’t appreciate is that a stroke isn’t a one-off incident… it’s a forever illness. She has some issues down her left side with her leg and face (she’s always had problems with her face though, lol). What has been amusing is our conversations. We are very similar; we’re both usually a million miles an hour and cram in as much as we can to our day, and night for that matter. What this also means is that her brain, like mine, is usually so active and we both talk way too quickly. But due to her stroke and my chemo brain we’ve had some hilarious nonsensical conversations whereby we either forget the word, forget what we were saying, lose our train of thought or say the wrong thing. I told her it was Monday when I meant Thursday so nothing too important, but potentially changes the outcome of the conversation. All good sport and we’ve laughed so much about it.

So I’d decided to take a drive over to see Karen again. I was busy chatting on the phone to my friend Heather whilst I was navigating my way through the back roads to get across to the A43 and then the A14. While I was gassing, I arrived at a junction and was waiting for traffic. Directly opposite the junction was a bald Spanish lorry driver who was out of his cab and dodging the traffic to cross the road to me. I asked Heather to wait a moment and I wound down the window as he asked in broken English whether he could get his HGV down the road I’d just travelled (no chance, by the way, much too narrow). I’d completely forgotten I’d left Bob on the passenger seat so when I opened the window to ask what was wrong the look on his face was absolutely priceless…he was faced with a bird who was as bald as he was. His English, which by the way was actually very good, was somewhat stunted as his brain processed that I was without hair… really amusing!

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Friday 8th April

Gosh, time is flying. It’s now the 8th April and it’s chemo day 4 again, which means in my head I’m over halfway. In fact, I’d go for 60 per cent and only two left after this one. However, I’m really dreading this if I’m honest. I’ve felt SO well this last time, almost back to normal. I’ve had to look after myself and be careful about having early nights, eating sensibly and not doing too much, but I’ve just felt great. I’m changing from Docetaxel to a drug called FEC; means nothing to you or me but apparently what happens is the cancer realises you’re trying to murder it so the same chemo stops being effective. I’ve been assured this one is easier but I guess everyone is different and we all react in different ways. I’m staying positive, naturally, but there’s always a ‘but’. I’ve planned to have this next week off as I usually do so it almost doesn’t matter what happens… but I’d so like to stay feeling well AND keep my eyelashes.

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Wednesday 13th April

Five days later and we’ve got to 13th April. It’s not been too bad. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I feel OK. The nausea has relented a bit but I feel so thick, a bit like when you’ve got a mega hangover and your brain can’t process information properly. I find it embarrassing. I can’t hold an intelligent conversation and my ability to recall what I was saying or even finish a sentence properly has been compromised. Still, it’s not forever. Another weird thing: My teeth hurt. And the tips of my fingers. Really is the most obscure feeling ever.

I’m not sure that’s what you do to someone on their birthday never mind someone who’s ill…

I got a text today from the ‘friend’ who posted the Facebook comment that had upset me back in February regarding the head shave. I was due to see her on Friday but she was texting to let me know she wasn’t coming because she was going to work – arguably not important, but Friday is my birthday and whilst I might not be ready to party, frankly I’m not sure that’s what you do to someone on their birthday never mind someone who’s ill… It’s the strangest thing but I get the feeling that there’s a cabinet reshuffle on the horizon – I’ve got a couple of ‘friends’ who seem to have got lost along the way. This journey really is a ‘buckle up and let’s see what happens next’ ride and not for the faint-hearted! Not only is it having a dramatic effect on my mind and my body but some of the people whom I thought were friends have been a bit of a disappointment.

The Final Spa Treatment

Friday May 27th

Friday May 27th and I’m so done, in every single way. I had my last spa session yesterday, just nine days or so to get through. I’m currently sat in bed after a long sleep and I feel OK this morning. I’ve got a collection of visitors to keep me entertained again today. I’m delighted to say that this session was just one cannula and they took their time to shove the chemicals in. So now I’ve just got to batten down the hatches have lots of sleep and take care of myself.

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One thing you don’t think about is your veins. I know that’s weird, isn’t it? But you don’t and I cannot tell you how sore they become. Certain parts of your arms become so sensitive to touch because I’m guessing they’ve been so badly damaged throughout the excessive chemical warfare they’ve had to cope with. I’ve been to a therapist and had a couple of oncology qualified massages – which by the way have been fabulous. They exist so don’t miss out on some real spa treatments. Go and find someone who’s qualified to deliver, it really does help. The only issue is when they massage your arms – I kept forgetting to tell her just how much it hurt and it’s a weird pain – a bit like toothache – hard to describe but excruciating just the same.

Thursday 2nd June

I’m free – June 2nd Karen and I jet off to Spain – I know really I shouldn’t be going anywhere I’m not even a full week after the last chemo but as I said I’m at maximum coping capacity with all of this and I just need to believe and feel like it’s over. So a holiday seems like a great way to do that. Sadly however my emotions aren’t exactly playing ball and I’ve done nothing but cry since I got to the airport. Now please don’t misunderstand me, my kids have been absolutely amazing as have my friends, but this has been a battle. MY BATTLE. And whilst I might not want to moan about it continuously it has taken its toll on me.

I hadn’t actually mentioned this little jaunt to Spain to the clinical staff or the consultant. I just didn’t want to be told I couldn’t go.

I just need some time out to get over what’s happened. On the huge positive I’m a whole stone lighter and feel psychically great. I don’t think I’ve been on holiday feeling slim in years so that’s a huge positive…just better make sure I don’t eat too much whilst I’m away. I’ve packed my trainers and hope to walk 7-8 miles a day. I need the training for the 46-mile trek I’m doing at the end of the month. So I need to do it for that, but it also gives me headspace.

3 June

It’s been a great remedy to clear away all the horror of this. I hadn’t actually mentioned this little jaunt to Spain to the clinical staff or the consultant. I just didn’t want to be told I couldn’t go. I’ve not even bothered finding out if I can get insurance. I mean, what’s the point? I’m sure I’ll be fine and to be honest for four days what could go wrong? Famous last words I hear you say, but thankfully everything was fine.

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The time away was just what I needed, although I spent the first two days crying. Poor Karen, I’m not sure she knew what to do with me. I’d like to blame the FEC but in truth, I think I needed to just get it all out of my system. I’ve realised that my coping strategy is about ploughing through with utter positivity and then when it’s over I have an enormous meltdown. Thinking back, this is how I’ve dealt with virtually every horror story I’ve had to go through. Who cares? It works for me. Healthy or not, it’s the way I’m built and I’m not going to give myself grief for it either. So I’ve cried for two days – so what? Although I should have bought some shares in Kleenex first, I think…

Monday 13th June

So here we are, June 13th and that’s it, chemo done. In my view, the biggest horror is over. Now for the good bits: my brand new boobs and the radiotherapy.

I saw the surgeon last week and we’ve sorted out my new boobs. I can’t tell you how pleased I am about that. Mine currently weigh-in at a large 36F and whilst I do have some beautiful underwear, I’ve had to spend a fortune from specialist shops, so I’ve requested a pair of double Ds. I noticed that you can virtually get anything in a D cup and I’m a bird that likes choices. I was unaware that they do your poorly boob first then after the radiotherapy they wait six months. Apparently, the radiotherapy not only burns your beautiful new boob but it can take six months for it to get back to normal. But you know what? I don’t really care. I’m better off than many women who lose their boobs, so for me I’ve just got to have some patience…another skill I’m embracing.

Sunday 31st July

It’s the 31st July and I’m mindful that I’ve neglected my blog updates for some time. For that, I apologise but I’ve been busy getting on with my life; holidays, trips away going to see my friends, and completing the 46-mile walk. The best bit is that we came 14th place out of 280. Not bad for a cancer-ridden chemotherapied bird!!!

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