I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to create a blog post about certain things that happen when one is in chemo. By certain things, I mean digestive issues. If you’re uncomfortable talking about poop or vomit, you probably should stop reading now. When on pain meds (after my hysterectomy) or in chemo, you will be told many, many times about the probability of becoming constipated. You will be asked many times if you are constipated. You will be told to buy a stool softener. I simply told them of the amount of fiber I eat every day and that I didn’t think it would be a problem. It hasn’t been.
Last week while at chemo I started feeling sick. I thought I was okay to make it home, and I did, but then I had that horrifying moment when you realize things are getting worse and you need to make it to a toilet NOW. I’m still not sure what sent my body into crazy town. It could have been the dairy-based soup I ate for lunch or it could have been the chemo (although I’ve never had that reaction form the chemo). All I know is that by the time I got through my front door I knew I wasn’t going to make it to the toilet in time.
I tried to tell myself it was going to be okay, like we all do, and then I realized I had no control over my body. I also realized I had two dogs under my feet and my hands full, as I tried to make it to the bathroom. It was a nightmare and once I made it into the bathroom I was definitely at the “oops, I crapped my pants” place. It is in these moments we realize how vulnerable we are and that we are just another imperfect creature dealing with life’s messy circumstances. At least that was true for me.
It was the worst case of upset stomach I’ve ever had. Well, actually it was second to the time I had N1H1. That was a vomit/diarrhea nightmare and it went on for a few days. This time, I was sick for the rest of the day, but had Imodium to at least stop the diarrhea. I ended the day feeling nauseous and throwing up around 2am. I crawled off into bed and managed to fall asleep around 4am.
When these things are happening, there’s nothing funny about it. Fortunately, after this episode, Sam and I were able to sit and talk about it and find the humor in it. When I was describing it to her, I brought up the food poisoning scene in the film Bridesmaids. I was relating to the part Maya Rudolph played and as the bride-to-be in an extremely expensive bridal gown she starts to realize she is going to have horrible diarrhea and tries to make it across the street to where there is a bathroom. As she crosses the street, she realizes she isn’t going to make it and starts to crumble into a heap in the street uttering, “It’s happening. It’s happening.” She then collapses and you can see in the meme below what happens. We now laugh and say those phrases to each other.
I can’t say how funny it will be the next time it inevitably happens, but hopefully I will be at home and not in public, and able to easily deal with it. More importantly, this incident has shown me that I’m not in control of my body anymore. My days of not feeling well have increased and I’m definitely experiencing more nausea and unpredictable moments. I get clammy and feel feverish and then the next moment am running cold. Sleeping through the night is getting harder too because of temperature issues within my body. Ugh.
My relationship with food has completely changed and become a game of “what sounds good enough to eat right now”. I spend a lot of time talking myself into eating food when I’m feeling sick hungry. The only thing appealing to me right now is fresh fruit and I’m anticipating things just getting worse as I pass the halfway point in my chemo treatments.
I figure one of the things I need to be here is honest. Most people think of cancer patients as throwing up and lying there, looking like death warmed over. Yes, there are many people going through that right now, as I speak. There are various degrees of chemo sickness and I just want to be as truthful as possible during this journey. I’ve also had people either just starting treatment, or possibly facing a diagnosis who want to talk with me about what’s happening. I will tell it like it is and also make sure people know I’m a very fortunate person to be in as good of shape as I am right now. But, when things go haywire, I will try to share the experience and find the humor in the situation, if I can.