Side Effects

I am not feeling well. I was fine until Friday after my infusion, when non-stop stomach cramps and bloating made it painful to eat or drink almost anything. In seven days I have lost nine lbs., a dangerous diet which can lead to organ failure even in the healthiest of circumstances. I sleep 13-16 hours a day.

I should have called Kaiser after 48 hours no food/drink, but I’m macho and stubborn and stupidly optimistic and I think I can tough out anything.

On the seventh day after chemo, I finally spoke to a nurse who said I should haul ass to Urgent Care ASAP.

Urgent Care means ninety minutes in a waiting room with way too many screaming children and a cornucopia of infectious diseases when my immune system is at its lowest. No thank you.

The next three days, two Kaiser nurses and the chemo pharmacist phoned to ask if I was feeling better, and why didn’t I go to Urgent care?

Thank you for calling, I’m eating and drinking now and feeling much better.

This chemo is hitting a lot harder than chemo in 1998, possibly because of the drugs themselves, but also because I’m eighteen years older and my body doesn’t bounce back as fast.

I’m not a good patient. It’s difficult for me to ask for help. However, this is cancer, this is chemotherapy, and I really need to ditch the machismo before something serious happens.

Author: MeredithLaskow

Artist, writer, and unrepentant nerd girl.

10 thoughts on “Side Effects”

  1. I watched my brother disappear before my eyes, because he couldn’t eat. We tried everything. Months later, we found out that marijuana would probably have helped stimulate his appetite just enough to at least keep up his strength to tolerate the chemo. I just feel obligated to mention that here, because it was perhaps the biggest and one of the more valuable lessons I learned out of all of that agony, and lessons are meant to be shared, aren’t they?

  2. Yes, I remember reading all your posts about your brother 🙁 Really broke my heart.

    Several friends have mentioned marijuana, and there are legal dispensaries within 20 miles of here . Kaiser (HMO) also has a pill derived from marijuana, Marinol (I think that’s its name) Rx in their pharmacy if other remedies don’t work. One of my current Rx is a steroid to increase my appetite but that also causes bloating, which is one of my problems. I’m willing to try whatever it takes.

    1. If I could go back and change anything, it would be to tell my brother to do whatever will give you the edge you need to stay on top of this…the most important thing right now isn’t the legality or morality of, say, marijuana, but surviving this…a survivor can deal with all of the other stuff later on the other side of this battle. For now, live! Whatever it takes, live!

      1. I plan to 😀 Even though I’m not personally into recreational drug use, I’ve long been a supporter of medical marijuana or whatever other drugs it takes to give someone a better quality of life.

  3. Meredith,
    I believe it is somewhat of an accepted truth that the pill (Marinol, you are correct) is not as effective as smoke (and probably edibles), depending on the condition requiring medical marijuana. Definitely worth looking into, getting a card and all. Might make you laugh more, too!

  4. If and when you take it… will you take a picture when you say “high” er I mean “hi”.
    Meredith do whatever makes you feel better. Hope it won’t be hard for you or your husband to purchase the stuff.
    I always thought a lousy patient is someone who complains non-stop. I believe you complain too little my dear. Go ahead and complain… the medical staff needs to hear you.

    1. No on the pic :-p If I actually get high, I’ll be in a really, really bad mood (same for drinking.) If this makes any sense — I have a really clear mind that does not like being messed with. However, if I though it would alleviate the cramping — it’s very easy to buy stuff here.

  5. If and when you can eat make sure it is protein. Helps the body heal. Also it is good you are sleeping. Nurses told me the only time the body heals is when you are at rest. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength. ♡

    1. Luckily, I love all types of nuts, which are my biggest source of protein. (I’m mostly vegetarian.) As for naps — I take them whenever I need them. Ask for help? — I have to be really, really sick. It’s hard to bypass 65 years of independence and machismo.

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