New Chemo and Side Effects

I started new chemo meds on Monday, and lots of people are asking how it’s going. It’s hard to know so soon: my nurse said it would take about a week to know how it’s working. This has been a tough week for me since I think I ate something bad over the week-end, and I’ve had an upset tummy for most of the week. I’m tired from being off the steroids as well, and have spent most of the week in bed. I don’t know how much the new meds may be contributing.

Last night I experienced some exciting drama in the form of strange visual effects. I saw flashes of light, and all kinds of unexpected things in my peripheral vision. I don’t know how to describe them, except to say they remind me of watching tv in the “olden days”, when ghost images would appear beside the actual image when the reception was poor. (Really frustrating when watching hockey: which guy is going for which puck?!) It was a bit like that, with repeated images swirling around the edges. Pretty wild!

The pages of information from the pharmacist indicate that these kinds of vision changes are a serious side effect from this medication, and urge the patient to tell their doctor straight away. I called my oncologist’s nurse this morning to ask about this, and she was unaware of this side effect. There are no doctors that she can ask until Monday. She said since it only happened once that I should continue with the meds. I’m thankful I’ve got an appointment with my oncologist on Monday.

Apart from the exciting light show last night, I seem to be experiencing only a few side effects. I had some horrible headaches earlier in the week (also a side effect), but they seem to be gone now. I’ve got a strange taste in my mouth and a bit of nausea, but it’s not too bad.

I don’t know how the new meds are affecting the cancer. I think I may be coughing a bit less, but I’m not sure. I’m definitely still coughing.

Many of the side effects from my first chemo continue, but it’s possible they’re improving. I still seem to bruise easily, but didn’t get a bruise from my blood test on Monday. My hands and feet continue to be numb / have strange feelings, but occasionally – perhaps increasingly – they feel more normal.

One thing I’ve been reflecting on lately is the idea of waiting. It’s relatively easy to wait for a short amount of time, but it grows increasingly difficult, especially when pain is involved. When I was labouring with my first-born, I was expecting it to take 24 hours or more. I wanted to deliver him without any pain meds, but shortly before he was born I asked my nurse what pain meds I could use. She said, “You’re doing so well!” … and then came another contraction and I forgot about the possibility of pain meds. Jono was with me, holidng my hand and getting me ice chips. Their encouragement made all the difference to me. Their encouragement kept me going when I felt that the pain was too much and the path was too hard. Even so, I’m glad my boy came quickly (about eight hours, if I remember correctly!) because labour is hard work!

Here is a quote which captured my imagination some twenty+ years ago. It’s by S.D.Gordon, from his book Quiet Talks on Prayer.

Waiting

It means steadfastness, that is holding on;

patience, that is holding back;

expectancy, that is holding the face up to see;

obedience, that is holding one’s self in readiness to go or do;

it means listening, that is holding quiet and still so as to hear.

What do you think of this? What do you think it means? How does it ring true (or not) to you? Is it capturing your imagination? Does it apply to your life now? How would you describe/define waiting? What makes waiting easier / harder for you?

I’m feeling much joy these days, and I’m so thankful for my family and friends and gardens and birds and the beauty in this world. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get out for walks again sometime soon.

Thank you for your encouraging words, faithful prayers and support. You have no idea the difference you make.