Sunday, January 25, 2009

Post 11 -- Post-Session 2

OK, rather than trying to cover everything that has transpired since the last post individually, I'll do it all here in one concise post.

EVERYTHING tastes and smells different. Nothing really tastes or smells good for about 1.5 ~ 2 weeks after the chemo, but most things are tolerable. Because of this factor, and the fact that I lost my appetite for over a week following the first treatment, I lost 14 pounds. I have since gained about 5 of that back, despite a 2nd chemo treatment. Understand that I'm just shy of 6'1" and started out weighing 178lbs. the morning of the first treatment. I didn't really need to lose 14 pounds.

Energy level definitely goes down, but so far I'm still able to go to the gym on a somewhat regular basis. Although, I only do 20~25 minutes of vigorous cardio and some ab work. I can, however, tell that my energy level ebs and flows pretty much as described by Dr. Dan.

Following chemo (remember I have 3 weeks between treatments), my energy level isn't all that bad. My appetite is gone, and most of the energy loss I feel is related to the fact that I just don't eat much... then about 8-12 days after the chemo treatment, I can just feel the energy drain. At this point, I'm eating regularly and regular stuff... pretty much anything I want, though greasy food is just NOT appealing (I tended to shy away before, but now the idea is just not good for the tummy). Anyways... 8-12 days after chemo, the energy just drains. I'm 36 years old, and in pretty decent shape. I hate having to admit that I just can't do everything I want to do, but I'm intelligent enough to know that if I push my body, it will push back... eventually, in the end, my body will win.

If you are going through this, listen to your body. Don't push it. Your body is fighting it's own battle inside at this point. Don't work against it as well. Sit down and rest a bit every now and again.

Hair loss. This started for me about 2 weeks after my 1st treatment. Now, for those who don't know me, I kept my hair very short as it was... 3/4" hair would be considered "hippy" for me. I'm not at all worried or concerned about losing my hair... It's just a collection of dead cells anyway (yes, the hair you see on your head and body is made up of completely dead cells). The disconcerting part for me was when I realized it was happening... I just happened to look down at my desk one day, and there lay several dozen pieces of hair.

Ever since that day, I vigorously rub my head every morning and night over my bathroom sink, to get as much out as possible. Hey, it's coming out; there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. Why prolong the situation? If you want to cover it up with a hat or wig... fine, whatever you want to do... BUT, why not wear your baldness with dignity? You have cancer... you are going through chemo... screw who ever gives you a sideways glance or sneer? If you see them... confront them, I guarantee they'll feel like crap after, and you'll feel vindicated.

Today, I would say I've lost about 60% of my hair. I just shaved it again last night, and based on what I shaved off vs. what I normally shave off, I think that's a pretty accurate estimate. I will tell you that I had a misconception (at least I think it's a misconception) about chemo and hair loss. I thought that eventually I would wind-up completely bald on my head. This does not appear to be the case. What seems to really happen (and I see this on me and several others I spoke with during chemo), is that there will be a period of time where you will experience hair loss... then the rate of hair loss will decrease, and you will actually start to grow hair again... then the cycle repeats, where you lose hair...

What you wind up with is varying lengths of short-ish hair... eventually every piece of hair will fall out, but you'll have new hair growing in. I think I've just decided to shave before every chemo session... that way the hair I have will be virtually the same length.

One last word on hair... the rate of growth slows... noticeably... This is especially noticeable on facial hair.

Well... that's pretty much it.

- Tired - yep getting there... I'm currently on chemo +9 days, so I'm within the 8-12 days targeted as your low point. After that, things will start to improve daily, until chemo time comes again.

- Spirits - POSITIVE. Yes, I'm lower on the energy scale, but that doesn't equal a non-positive attitude/spirit. I've only really had 2 bad days since being diagnosed... those were the day of the diagnosis, and the day after... In fact all told, I would say it was probably a 24 hour period. And even that 24 hour period wasn't all that bad.

I'm still living my normal life. I still do 90% or more of everything I was doing prior to starting this journey. In my mind, that is an extremely important fact. I am determined to have this adversely affect my life in as little ways as possible.

And to prove that this is NOT going to adversely affect my life, I take delivery on one of these next week -- brand new (though mine is a different color).

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