I wanted to write a small entry about chemotherapy side effects. Even 3 1/2 years after my diagnosis I still get questions about every other month or so from a friend who unfortunately knows someone who is going through a hard time managing their side effects. They often want to know what they can do to help or if they can pass along any tips that I found helpful. I will first say, everyone is completely different so what worked for me doesn't always help another.
By far the most common question. Medication truly is the only thing that actually prevented me from being ill. But other things I have found help were:
- My top favorite was raw ginger slices, sometimes I'd boil them in water and then put it in a pitcher of water in my fridge. I recently discovered ginger candy called Gin-Gins. I wish I knew of them sooner!
- Peppermint tea - caffeine free because for a while I had to avoid caffeine due to meds
- Sugar-free lollipops or mints - only once or twice I got a metal taste in my mouth but this helped. Some people I know have had an ongoing issue with that metallic taste
- Basic foods like oatmeal, toast, crackers which is kind of less-than desirable in the nutrition area, but when you're that ill I think you get a hall pass.
I sometimes forget but this was one of the most painful and dare I say one of the more debilitating side effects at times. It hurt to eat, swallow and at the lowest of the low, talk. I even had them up into my nasal cavity. The reason you get them is because chemo kills off rapidly growing cells in the body including your good ones and your mouth has a lot of turnover on those cells.
- Magic mouth wash: it's a mix of ingredients you can get at a pharmacy through a RX or even make it at home. It contains an antihistamine, antacid, etc. It works for about 20 mins or so at a time.
- Medication...always more medication it seems
Regardless of if I needed blood or platelet transfusions I always seemed to have needed a bag or two of saline due to dehydration.
- Huge bottle of water - aim to drink at least 3 a day
- Sip water often and not in big gulps
- I was ok with straight water, but some people like flavoring. Like I said before I enjoyed ginger water and still do.
- Teas, Caffeine-free coffee, gatorade (sometimes too salty and hurt my mouth sores)
There are about a dozen more uncomfortable and embarrassing topics I have given advise on. It's nice to be able to laugh a little about some of them finally. Maybe another day when I am feeling a little daring to write about them I will write a Part II.
Off to be semi-productive...102 days until the trip!