Saturday, February 23, 2008

My Chemical Romance

Okay, now the chemo is catching up to me. Still no nausea, but even leaving out the TMI (too much information) stuff, it's generally been an icky five or six days.

The worst part is oral. I've developed ulcers on the roof of my mouth (which have spread to the top of my throat, and I'm told may extend further) and sores on my gums. These combine to make talking very difficult and eating nightmarish. No chewable food is soft enough, so everything has to be pureed. (Interestingly, some of the hospital food tastes better that way.) Even so, certain textures are difficult to eat, anything more than lukewarm hurts, certain spices are right out (ginger burns like you wouldn't believe) and acidic foods are exercises in torture.

The interesting thing is that I'm learning new ways of manipulating food in my mouth. I've learned to drink without a straw in such a way that the liquid doesn't touch the sores on my gums (even water hurts them) and if I am using a straw, I can guide the flow to soothe or avoid the ulcers if need be. There's more, but it gets a little esoteric.

Until the docs find the right meds to fix this, there are a number of temporary solutions. There's the "magic mouthwash," which I can swirl in my mouth and swallow; it acts as an analgesic for a short while. There's "pink lady," which is definitely not to be swallowed, but numbs the mouth for about a half hour. However, it numbs things so effectively it's dangerous to try to eat anything during that time. Using these—and the lidocaine I was given for spot applications—too much can lead to stomach upset and vomiting, so I try to space their use out in conjunction with popsicles and Jell-O.

I also discovered that while watching Ghost in the Shell on my PSP distracts me from the pain, playing Luxor (a Zuma-like game) on it actually diminishes the pain itself. So long as I'm careful not to damage my thumbs, I can self-medicate pretty well.

When it really hurts I have the option of mophine, but I hate being doped up. On the one occasion it hurt that bad I played Luxor while eating Jell-O and capped it off with a popsicle. It took a while, but I avoided the needle.

I'm also more prone to fevers this time around, including one really bad bout that had me clutching bags of ice to my body. Usually I'm only slightly febrile (like right now) which means a whole bunch of blood and other cultures, and a chest x-ray in the morning. Can't be too careful.

Other than that, I've been sleeping a lot—one or two naps a day. On one hand, it's kind of aggravating to just lose time like that. On the other hand, it pleasantly reminds me of the 10th grade.

Coming up next: more news about Sam, and my new cancer buddies!

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