02 March 2008



fear at Flickr.comBeware: graphic blog post ahead.

Chemotherapy isn't something your body gets used to—the side-effect symptoms generally just get worse and worse as you proceed with treatment. While I've had it better than some folks since my current round began in October, this week—and today in particular—has sucked.

I finished my usual chemo dosage on Friday, but my recovery, usually pretty quick, was slower then normal this week. I had my delayed CT scan Friday evening, then went out for dinner, but yesterday, Saturday, I felt hung over all day, with a dull headache and fatigue.

This morning was a disaster. One of the potential side effects of some of the chemo drugs is late-onset diarrhea, something I haven't had in the four months I've been on this treatment. But I got it last night. Because I've had a temporary ileostomy bag since the summer, I don't have the urge to go to the bathroom. The bag glued to the side of my belly simply fills up, and I have to notice and then head to the washroom to empty it. I did that around 1:30 a.m.

But if things go badly, as they did today, the bag leaks. I noticed around 7 a.m. when it filled up again. I was able to leap out of bed, charged with adrenaline, and avoid making a big mess. After cleaning things off I got into the shower and prepared to put on a new bag, but while washing my hair and shaving, I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out.

Normally for me that would be a sign of diabetic low blood glucose, but after spilling test strips across the kitchen counter, I checked my levels and they were normal. Something else was wrong, and I felt cold fear. I stumbled into the bedroom, still dripping from the shower, and woke my wife as I lay down to keep from falling over. Getting horizontal, I immediately felt a bit better.

After assessing the situation and talking to doctors at the Cancer Agency, she discovered that fluid loss probably made me dehydrated and light-headed. Electrolyte imbalances likely gave me the hangover-like symptoms too. I've been drinking fluids and taking Imodium, as well as sleeping, all day since. I feel mostly normal now, but the headache is still there. My wife is having a nap too, because she was out late last night and didn't get enough sleep before I zombie-crashed her awake first thing today.

I hate having to put her and the kids through crap like this. It scares me too. I hope tomorrow is better.

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You've got what it takes,Derek.
After tomorrow does turn out to be better the fear will dissipate and you as well as Airdrie will be able to relax somewhat...and soon after that you'll be back to "normal"

I'm always so amazed and full of admiration for your willingness to share the ugly and scary details of your illness and your treatment, Derek.
I wish we humans were more powerful and could heal people we care about just with your thoughts and emotions.
Because I can't do that, I want at least send you some cyber love and affection and hoping that it would help, even just a little.
Sorry to hear you had a bad day! As Ralph said, tomorrow will be a better day and you can relax a bit. When do you get the results of the CT?
Take care

Wow, Derek. What a scare. I'm glad you're okay.

I'm also glad you're writing about the side-effects, because most people don't and then it becomes a vague mystery to most people. Granted, it's not easy to write about it while experiencing it and I'm not knocking anyone who would rather just not detail it for the dissemination of others on the web.

But when people are unfamiliar with something, fear sets in. And it's a sad state of affairs when people see the symptoms up close or even just hear about them, and run away like rabbits. Someone actually asked me once if cancer was CONTAGIOUS...

Strength to you and your family, Derek.