Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

Second Time Around – In-Patient Chemo Begins

I had a really good hospital stay. I know that sounds odd but I really can’t complain. I had: • A nice new room with a really sweet, considerate roommate (if you can’t get a single room, this is the next best thing) • Great nurses who were young and fun and very caring • A relaxing foot massage on day $3 of my treatment • A wonderful stream of visitors who kept me entertained and preoccupied • Good food (aka I had visitors bring me all of my meals so I didn’t have to eat hospital food) More importantly, I didn’t have: • Bad side effects from the chemo (I had very little nausea or night sweats) • A lot of distractions at night (I managed to sleep OK despite the crazy steroids I was on) There was definitely a sense of déjà vu being in the hospital 4.5 years later for a similar treatment. The highlight of the 3-day stay was that I had an allergic reaction to one of the new chemo drugs I was being given. I am being a bit sarcastic because although it was definitely a “highlight”, I would have gladly chosen to live without this experience. I was forewarned that about 25% of patients receiving this drug get an intense allergic reaction within 10 minutes of the drug being administered. In most instances the nurses will stop the drug and try again in an hour…90% of the time the drug is tolerated the 2nd time around. There is a very intellectual medical reason for this that I didn’t understand but it basically boils down to the fact that your body needs to get accustomed to it. I was given the drug and it took only 3 drops of the drug for me to get really sweaty and dizzy, feel my throat closing and have my face turn bright red (Dave claims my face was rosier than the Vitamin Water I was drinking). The nurses and Dr’s were ready for this reaction and immediately gave me shots and oxygen, which brought me to a comfortable state within 1-2 minutes. I must say that it was the scariest moment I have had on my cancer journey to date. When the nurse asked me what it felt like, I told her “I felt like an elephant was on my chest and if you hadn’t helped me, I would have died within 30 seconds”. I got really nervous when they told me that despite my allergic reaction, we had to try again in an hour. Luckily I didn’t have the reaction the second time and the treatments went without a hitch. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I am going to be very nervous when they give me the drug again in 3 weeks. I got home on Wednesday night around 6 and have been doing pretty well since. I am loving March Madness and watching a ton of games. Luckily, I have very few side effects…a bit of nausea and extreme fatigue (I have to take a nap every day) but that’s it. I have managed to go to the gym, see friends, do errands etc. I am just taking it day by day as I try to determine what this new round of chemo will be like for me. The side effect that I tend to have the most is called Chemo Brain. It basically means that you feel like you are in a haze for the few days after chemo. It’s hard to really focus and sometimes you have a hard time expressing yourself coherently. I guess this is the best side effect to have in that it doesn’t hurt you; it ‘s just somewhat annoying. I tend to be about half as productive and much more “Zen”. When I started exhibiting these symptoms on Thursday Dave remarked, “Oh, I forgot about this side effect and how much I like it. It’s the kindler, gentler version of the Jen I love!” I would have smacked him but my brain was too foggy! I will write again soon. I have a lot of “deep thoughts” to share once I get over my chemo brain!