“Do you think the chemo is working?” was the question my wife posed to me last night. This question was based entirely on my not suffering any violent side-effects from the chemo. My wife’s thoughts seemed to be posited upon some old Victorian (which she most definitely isn’t) philosophy along the lines of , “the worse it tastes the better it is for you!”
In all honesty I’d expected the worst. I’d prepared myself to be spending huge amounts of time hugging the toilet or the washbasin, or possibly both! In fact that hasn’t happened at all. For most of yesterday I knew I was having some sort of problem with my stomach/bowels but where and what wasn’t quite clear to me so I was prepared for anything to arrive from anywhere at any time as it were! Happily nothing did arrive unexpectedly. Last night was the first time I’ve not taken anti-nausea pills since I started chemo. I have 30 of the six hourly kind to be taken at need, and I have to admit I was tempted to take one before going to bed just to obviate the need, but I wanted to know what was going on with my body, so I didn’t, and, happily I got a good night’s sleep – well I got as good a night’s sleep as my wife’s cat would allow wakening us at around 2.30 a.m., 4 a.m. and again at 6.30 a.m. Did it want anything? Well, not from me!! Anyway the point is I wasn’t nauseous.
So I’ve had no nausea, no diarrhoea (a word which seemingly 90% of people give up on ever trying to spell correctly), mild constipation and not much else apart from fatigue, so you can, perhaps, see why my wife was wondering whether I’d been infused with the right stuff.
The fatigue is very strange. It’s almost as though my body clock has slipped somewhere. From arriving in the US in April 2011 I’ve kept reasonably traditional bed-times (generally somewhere between 11 p.m. and midnight) but since my first chemo infusion on Tuesday I’m wide awake at that time and then want to sleep on deep into the morning. Once I’m up and awake then I seem to be OK for short periods of time but then my attention just disappears though I think it is coming back. A few days ago I was able to read only a couple of sentences at a time in a book whereas now I can generally make a whole paragraph at one go. If I’m reading in bed I don’t find myself dropping to sleep while reading, but I do find myself wakening up with a book in my hand. The whole fatigue thing is, as I said earlier, very strange. Last night I was able to watch three episodes from The Big Bang Theory (surely the best comedy on t.v. at the moment) without losing focus once, or at least if I did lose focus I didn’t notice, but today, watching my “top team” Spurs beating Newcastle United 5 – 0, I zoned out after 10 minutes of the second half, went to bed and slept for an hour! In the 50 odd years since I adopted Spurs as “my top team”, how many chances have I had to watch them stuff five past the opposition and then, when I do get the chance, I fall asleep! Marvellous! Actually the most goals I’ve ever seen scored by one team in a professional match was at Oakwell when Barnsley FC played a touring side from Africa and, if memory serves, scored 10 goals. I don’t ever remember the Reds doing anything so extravagant ever again!