So, with this being the end (of this particular leg of his overall battle), this is what we've learned:
- Chemo sucks. We don't recommend it, to anybody. He has said that being in Iraq was not as bad as this.
- Riding in the car makes the nausea worse (go figure).
- You have to preemptively treat the symptoms, not chase them. So take the nausea medicine BEFORE you're nauseous.
- Get some Biotene (an oral rinse) and use it OFTEN. It helps with the burning of the mouth and it helps with the metallic taste.
- Get some peppermints and some hard Jolly Ranchers...they help with the metallic taste.
- If you eat to try to cover up the metallic taste, make sure you force yourself to go to the bathroom...or start taking some Miralax to help with the soon-to-come bloating and constipation.
- DRINK YOUR FLUIDS! If water makes the metallic taste worse, mix it with some Gatorade. Buy LOTS of Gatorade if mixing.
- Make sure you eat, even if you're not feeling up to it. And don't eat junk...eat something with everything in it that you need for nutrition.
- Take a daily vitamin. Your immune system will turn to crap because all your white blood cells are dying, so take a vitamin every day.
- No dairy, nothing acidic, nothing with a high presence of metallic minerals (like fish).
- If you're feeling like you really want to eat something, but you're worried how it might affect your tummy, go ahead and eat it anyway. Your tummy will actually be fine.
- Get plenty of rest...but make sure that you're moving a little, too. The more you move, the better.
- When you're offered a port...even if the idea of it freaks you out...get the port anyway. Otherwise, by the end of it all, your veins will be shot and they'll have to find horrible places to stick you (like your hands) or will need to stick you more than once in a day.
- Even though it's HARD...try to stay positive. Trying to think positively about the whole thing seems to make it just a little bit better than if you stay in bed and wallow in your own self pity.
- Know that with chemo comes mood swings. They will be rough...but you'll get through them.
- Make sure you apologize to your caregiver for being such an ass when you didn't mean to be.
- If you're a caregiver...do the best you can to not offer your input on the patient's mood. It doesn't help. It doesn't even come close to helping.
- You will have a hard time regulating your temperature. You may feel hot, then cold, then be sweating again. This is OK. Just open the window, turn the fan on, and keep some blankets near you.
- When you're feeling up to it, get outside for a little fresh air. It WILL make you feel better.
- If you're a caregiver, make sure you read the labels on the medication bottles, even if you think you you've got them memorized. Sometimes you don't know them as well as you should and you'll end up giving an Ambien instead of a Phenegran (possibly more than once....maybe even more than twice).
- When you have labs drawn in the middle of your rest period, they may not be indicative of what your labs will be come the day of treatment. They may be better, they may be worse. There's nothing you can do to predict it.
- You're stronger than you think...but you may also be weaker than you think. You can think all day long that you're going to handle every day like a champ. You can plan to go to work on some days after treatment if you're feeling up to it. You can think that you'll sail right through this. Only to realize that you CAN'T go to to work the day of treatment because you feel like crap and you want to go to bed. You may not sail right through it. And that's perfectly fine.
The last 3 months have been more of an ordeal than an adventure. An ordeal I'd prefer to NEVER have to go through again. And I know that Dave would absolutely say the exact same thing.
Good riddance, chemo!