Some Chemo Side EffectsPosted: November 3, 2013
Many know the potential side effects of chemotherapy. It varies widely from person to person based upon an individual’s tolerance and the type and dosage level of the treatment.
The only side effects I remember hearing about before the treatments began were hair loss (head to toe), possible nausea/diarrhea, possible neuropathy.
Well, the hair loss happened — big time! In order to maintain some kind of control of the situation, several days after my first treatment I stood in the bathroom and pulled out a sink full of hair (apx 10 minutes each day) for 2 days. At that point I was ready to go get my head shaved. My husband person bought me a wig and some scarves.
As best as I can remember the neuropathy I experienced was in both legs and feet. To this time I have periodic tingling in my left foot.
And I am most fortunate because I did not get sick and throw up or have diarrhea like some folks around me. I always did have strong innards.
Perhaps I will do another post about the side effects. Right now, I want to focus on the two side effects that were not discussed with yours truly:
CHEMO BRAIN AND CHEMO FARTS
Chemo Brain from My Perspective
The word I remember the Onc discussing was a ‘fogginess’ that may occur. “Fogginess” is a generalization and covers a whole lot of territory!
My experience with chemo brain was and is … um, well to be honest I don’t remember a whole lot about the chemotherapy. I had the ‘kitchen sink’ thrown at me, if you will. The amount I received was the highest dosage allowable. So to say I had chemo fog is a huge understatement. Literally, I don’t remember much of those weeks involving chemo.
A friend of ours (who has since died) did tell my husband person that it’s a good thing I couldn’t remember much. He had gotten quite ill. So it can be nasty.
My husband person would need to fill us in on the real effects of chemo brain. Perhaps he will do that soon.
The day after my first treatment, I had an “incident” (the only one I can remember). And here to tell you about it is my husband person and caregiver, Mr.T (teacher):
WHAT IS THAT?!
Before it hit me I began to see paint peel and the floor buckle. “What the hell is that,” I asked myself. Then it struck me like a green fog out of the night, a smell so foul that we were certainly under attack. Surely we were goners.
A quiet little voice broke the silence. “Honey, I puffered.” Can’t be I thought. Nothing that foul can come from a human being. This was our introduction to “Chemo Farts”. And a fear that we would never survive the night!
Chemo farts are a very closely guarded secret and for good reason. Nothing I can write or describe can give you an understanding of how bad chemo farts are. As a normal male I enjoy a good fart as much as the next guy. Even Ben Franklin wrote an essay on flatulence (“Fart Proudly” circa 1781, look it up its entertaining), but even he would hold his nose at this!
Fearful she was going blow up and create a hazmat issue or a superfund site in our TV room, I immediately got on the internet and searched for chemo farts.
Well, there were hundreds of hits on this phenomenon. So, I check out a chat room and learn this is a fairly common side effect of chemo drugs and that many people have a more warped sense of humor than I do. I was laughing so hard I had tears rolling down my face. Mrs. AL came into the room and I could barely read any of the postings to her.
Sampling of comments:
‘chemo brain, chemo skin, chemo belly, chemo farts….it’s all part of the prize package with chemo. If you have a dog, a brother, or a two-year old you have a good scapegoat. If not and you find yourself in mixed company and a wee little gas should escape, just lift up your shoe and say you accidentally stepped in some….well….you know….’
‘… about blew a gal’s face off at the bank. Left her cubicle to go fart in the vestibule but it stayed with me, trapped under my coat. My husband and daughter just laid their heads down and laughed and cried’
‘I was in line at the store and I felt it come on. It was so sudden I could not stop it, thankfully it was silent, but not odor free. When I realized what happened, I crinkled up my nose looked at the person behind me and nodded at the back of the person in front of me! The poor guy never knew that everyone in line behind him thought he was the culprit!’
‘… I get the walking farts crossing the room and when I fart in Wal-Mart I almost die laughing. I am not kidding these bad girls will not stay in they are coming out ready or not…I am cracking up just writing this’
That night, that very special moment in time gave us permission to laugh, and laugh we did loud and hard and at every opportunity we could.
That single fart (there were many, many more trust me) changed our perspective and attitude toward Mrs. AL’s treatment. That single fart did more than any doctor or drug could ever accomplish. It was a blessing sent to us that took us from despair to courage and a resolute attitude to kick cancers ass.
We no longer have the furniture and are replacing the flooring. As for the paint, the blistered effect looks pretty nice so we are going to leave it in place.
So next time you break one off enjoy the moment. Think of the people out there who could power a diesel locomotive on one good chemo fart. And laugh in cancers face because it doesn’t like it!