Some Chemo Side Effects

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.

Chemo Farts

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!


33 Comments on “Some Chemo Side Effects”

  1. Gar Swaffar says:

    As another healthy male who just moments ago finished a bowl of my wife’s wonderful crockpot beans. Oooorrrahhhh!!!!

  2. OH, MY GAWRSH~! The TEARS are just ROLLING down my cheeks,,, And I am in soooo much pain in the midsection from all that laughter~!
    Now I gotta make a trip down the hall,,,B R B ~!
    ~ ~ G F ~ ~

  3. Mrs. AL, I had not heard of your illness, but Dennis P. O’Neil shared your blog on Facebook. Know that you are in my prayers for continued healing and kicking cancer’s butt. Your husband’s account left me rolling on the floor, tears down my face. Thank you for sharing that. I know cancer doesn’t like it.
    God’s blessings,
    (Bobs My Uncle)

    • Mrs. AL says:

      Howdy, BMU aka John! Good to see ya’. Thanx so much for your prayers and appreciation for kicking cancer’s rear end. Not going to say it’s easy ’cause it is not! And not everyone is able to given the advanced nature of their particular situation. I was on the edge, if you will.

      Since I don’t do social media, I was surprised Dennis aka Saltwater shared this. It’s ok, of course. My prayer is that there is something written that is of help to someone else. Would appreciate your prayers for the same, John.

  4. Tim says:

    The treatment hasn’t tarnished your writing or sense of humor. You’re an inspiration to us all, Ms. AL.

    • pepperhawk says:

      Mrs. Al,

      Great post. I had to laugh too about the chemo farts. But you obviously have quite a sense of humor about it and probably why you beat the cancer back. Continued prayers for you.

      • Mrs. AL says:

        Pepperhawk, I am a bit surprised that you were able to even read, let alone laugh since Goshawk’s death so recently. Says a lot about your resolve. I am so pleased you stopped by!!!!

        And we are praying for you daily as well, Pepperhawk.

        • pepperhawk says:

          Mrs. Al,

          It is hard for me to read, but I’m trying to get to some blogs and comment just to get me back into some kind of sanity. I didn’t get a LOL laugh, mostly little smiles. I see an interesting article and try to read through the whole thing, if I can, and make a comment because otherwise I roam around this house lost and not knowing what to do next. I try to put one foot after another as the days go by. And a personal story like this always interests me and what you had to go through. It’s tough without Hawk, but I’ve had so many neighbors come to see me and bring me food, which is wonderful and I view them as God’s way of helping me and giving me direction. I do feel miserable most days to say the least. Life is hard right now, but what is the alternative? Thanks for your continuing prayers. They do help so much.

          • Mrs. AL says:

            It’s so good to hear that your neighbors and friends are helping, Pepperhawk. Your resolve will get you through. I really can’t identify with what you are going through. We do have a friend who is experiencing a similar set of circumstances. Like you, she has a strength that lies underneath. Indeed, we continue to pray for you, Pepperhawk.

    • Mrs. AL says:

      Aw shucks, Tim. Thanx so much. I don’t think of myself that way.

      I couldn’t write for some time. The fact that the Lord has allowed me to do this is amazing to yours truly!

      And I have to say, ‘laughter IS the best medicine,’ eh?

  5. J.O.B. says:

    Hi MrsAl. Is the state going through the process of revoking your driver’s license? They revoked my Mother’s due to her radiation, but I don’t know if it was due to the severity.

    • Mrs. AL says:

      Nope. I can drive just fine. During chemo I didn’t do much of that. My Dad had drilled into me that I was never to drive if I could not drive at the speed limit, etc. Besides, I guess I slept up to 20 hours a day for the first week after each c-treatment.

      Great question, JOB! Thanx for asking.

  6. CW says:

    I have to be honest with you Mrs. AL I’m usually not a fan of fart jokes et al (I’m not much fun to hang out with) but your husband’s telling of the story was absolutely priceless and really made me laugh. He needs a blog of his own!! They say laughter is the best medicine and I believe that with all my heart.

    • Mrs. AL says:

      Agreed, CW. I still don’t like using the word. And notice, I didn’t tell my husband person I you know whated, I said, “puffered.” So we are kindred souls on this issue.

  7. Bobbie Kelley says:

    I was looking for a comment from Garnet92. I’m sure he’ll love this post; especially since he is so fond of farts of any kind. big ones, small ones, silent ones, loud ones, and now chemo ones. I’m sure he’ll be in fart heaven. He might frame this post to hang in his living room.

  8. O says:

    I want to say, “thank you”. My cousin Gar has told me that you are praying for me. O

    • Mrs. AL says:

      You are welcome, O! Thanx so much for stopping by. Please know you are invited to share any of your experience you want with the rest of us. We have something in common and at the same time have our own unique perspective and set of circumstances! I will continue in prayer for you.

  9. tannngl says:

    Wonderful entry!!!
    Humor, especially BELLY LAUGHS will stimulate your immune system, especially the Killer T-cells! Don’t ever forget! Belly laughs are so good for us!!!!! None of us do it enough.

  10. Kathy says:

    Would you tell your husband person that he caused me nearly fall out of my chair and onto the floor? He is precious and hilarious. Here’s my attempt to paste a picture in a comment…
    http://hardnoxandfriends.com/?attachment_id=5930

  11. Terry says:

    Q. When you were sharing the comments and laughing with Mr. T that evening, did it cause a severe, uncontrollable outbreak of puffering ?
    Just curious.

    You know I love you, Mrs. AL. And now I love Mr. T also.
    What a great pair you 2 are !

    • Mrs. AL says:

      A: I don’t have a clue. I actually only remember one puffer. Evidently after all 6 treatments this was a regular event. How gross 🙂

      You are most kind, Terry, and we love you back, you know.
      Happy laughing!

  12. vonmesser says:

    OK. So I’m a few months late. I didn’t join this asylum until recently. My wife fought lung cancer from 1999 until 2010. Hair loss and chemo-brain – BIG TIME. However, I missed out on this aspect of the chemo (she was under 8 or 10 different chemo regimens, and the one she was on when she finally left me didn’t even exist as a concept when she started chemo).

    • Mrs. AL says:

      It’s never too late, Vonmesser ! Thanx for stopping by.

      Clearly you and your wife experienced quite an ordeal. And it is very interesting to me that you mentioned the last treatment didn’t exist in 1999. Let’s pray that research, etc is not slowed down in the current climate in this country, eh?

      You are a strong humanoid, and please accept my belated sympathy, Vonmesser. Your wife sounds like she was a fighter.


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