Monthly Archives: January 2016

When needs must…..

This is the first time I have resorted to blogging in lieu of sleep, or maybe to promote it, but needs must, and I did warn at the beginning of this cancer business that I might have a moan.
It’s my fourth cycle of chemo and in all of them I have been ever so lucky only having minor side-effects of some loss of energy and some aches, twinges, and tingles – however – minor as they are, they have stopped me sleeping tonight so I have got up again.
I often find it hard to drop off but can usually put up with it – this time it defeated me. It could be because I had a nap in the late afternoon when my energy levels dropped, maybe I should learn from that.
Anyway, this gives me a chance to say that in the past few days I have been very aware of the alleged ‘chemo brain’ state. It could just be me having my (already established) senior moments of course, but it does seem more noticeable since my treatment.  It shows itself by all the ‘senior’ type things such as forgetting the simplest of words or losing what I am going to say slap bang in the middle of it, but the noticeable difference is a kind of fuzziness around actually understanding what is being said to me.  It’s as though my brain freezes like a PC ‘not responding’ – a failure to compute.
I have had a couple of recent emergencies relating to my flat when I found that I just couldn’t think what course of action I needed to take, in circumstances when I’m sure I would normally have known what to do right away. I feel as though I need a grown-up to take my hand, and this is me who is normally the control freak, always thinking she’s in charge. I am told that it’ll ease off as I recover from the poisons in my veins – huh, I blinkingwell hope so.
Another slightly disturbing aspect of the chemo is the effect on my temper. I remember an advisor at Maggie’s Centre saying that it was hard for companions because of the emotional changes in patients, and another friend who has been through it also warned me, but I have been surprised by it nevertheless. I generally feel irritable the vast majority of the time. Not sad, not sorry for myself, not angry – just much shorter tempered and very quick to respond when I would normally ‘count to ten’.  It is such a shame for those around me, especially for my very long-suffering partner, and I do try to keep a hold on it, but sometimes I just cannae be bothered.
Finally, I am increasingly aware that I don’t really know any more who I am and what I’m doing. I am almost in a Limbo world. My general umph and enthusiasm has taken a massive dive. The driech weather doesn’t help there , which accompanied by my not wanting to risk mixing in crowds, means I am so often confined indoors. This would at one time have driven me crazy but, although I do have some cabin fever, I am finding I am not as eager to DO anything about it.
Ah well, the aches and twinges have really subsided since I have been distracted by typing so maybe I can get some sleep now.

Deciding between a rock and a hard place.

“Only you can decide” they say – oh sure, only me because it’s my body, but how the blazes are patients like me supposed to make these kind of choices? If we ‘google’ the conditions we are likely to be faced with so much contradictory information and opinion as to make it useless, and just going from what we are told doesn’t really help that much.
As I understand it the position is this. When the chemo finishes I will be expected to decide whether to follow it with radiotherapy and if so, which kind. Apparently the choice is between treating the full pelvic area, which is likely to be most effective for eliminating the chance of cancer cells reoccurring BUT can cause damage to the abdominal organs, or just vaginal radiation which by being more limited, is potentially not as damaging but is only effective for treating that restricted area. However, apparently it can cause scarring in the vagina which may cause it to close up (!!) though one can be taught how to use a dilator to prevent this happening. Additionally, because the womb has been removed, some of the bowel may get into that space and be damaged by the radiation anyway. Talk about ‘between a rock and a hard place’!
The other option is not to have any further treatment and to take the risk of the cancer reoccurring. This is my preferred choice at the moment. My reason being because as they reckoned they had removed the cancer cells with the hysterectomy, and the chemo is ‘just’ an extra precaution, I think the risk of damage to organs is greater than the risk of cancer. In any case, if cancer did happen again surely it could be irradiated or whatever then?
The risk of damage being done during surgery was quite low but it still happened to me, and the problems with the kidney drain which kept me in hospital were not common, but I was unlucky.
I have another three months of chemotherapy and I still have more surgery to undergo to have the stent removed, so quite frankly, I think I have had enough thanks very much.      I am loathe to chance my luck again.