Thursday, April 14, 2011

Friends and side effects

Cancer, chemo and side effects go hand in hand. My chemo was Interferon… A nasty drug which I had to take for 52 weeks…. 4 weeks of  5 days a week, IV’s in the arm and 48 weeks of shots, 3 shots a week... It didn't last 52 weeks, it lasted longer...

I was done with the first month of treatment, the IV’s and we had started with the first week of the shots, my dear friend Niels and housemate in our student home in The Netherlands and his girlfriend Moniek came to give me some moral support and see the country. And what is more fun & comforting than seeing the country by going to the hospital together with your “sick” friend???


Usually my mom, dad, Bastiaan’s mom and dad (they came over for 5 weeks from Holland),Bastiaan, Hanneke (my sister), Jan Willem (my brother) or other friends would come with me but now they all had a day off too. Niels and Moniek were more than happy to come with me and I would normally be awake the whole ride home (about one hour long) and then fall asleep in my own bed, before the real side effects would start, as in shaking, trembling, throwing up, running a fever, not be able to go to the bathroom or going all the time, and did I mention the shaking and trembling???

So, we got to the hospital, I get my shot (the second one that week, it was Wednesday) chat with all the nurses, have lot’s of fun and show Niels and Moniek the differences between hospitals in Holland and the USA. And introduced them to all the fantastic nurses and doctors in Fort Wayne.

We get the car I sit down and I’m just rambling feeling GREAT! I would get some anti nausea medicine, some flu resisting medicine, sleep medicine and some good pain killers together with the Interferon. And somehow this time the little cocktail was doing its work fantastically! I noticed that halfway home I’m slurring a bit… not too much…. Just a little bit, or so I thought. Niels and Moniek who never had been in the company of someone who is on chemo didn’t know what to expect so they figured it was normal.

But it wasn’t…


They put me to bed, which apparently wasn’t that easy. On really bad days Bastiaan would escort me out of the car, in the house and in bed. Niels and Moniek had the privilege this time. And all the time I was mumbling, speaking in slurred sentences and not making any sense in whatever I was trying to say.

They put me to bed and I slept…

In the evening the side effects started again, like clockwork, and that Thursday Niels and Moniek went home. My dad’s turn was that next day, on Friday, and we went to the hospital. Before they hooked me up to all the proper machinery and gave me my shot I told them about my strange drive home and that if was feeling so woozy and that I had problems making normal sentences.

And then all hell broke loose!

My fantastic oncologist, a colleague oncology doctor, and 5 nurses were standing by my chair, asking me questions, taking blood and arranging MRI’s and CAT scan’s…


They came to the conclusion the nausea medicine they had given me for the last month was only supposed to be given to me for one week (or given once every 3/4 weeks like you have with more often used chemo). Not five weeks in a row every single day…

Luckily there were no long lasting effects, but they gave me 2 weeks “off”, as a breather and recover from the buildup of medicine. After those two weeks we continued with the interferon but I can never have any nausea medicine again.
But that’s all right with me; I wasn’t planning on getting sick no more anyway…

And yes, now I know…
• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
• Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

... Means get YOUR BUTT back INTO the hospital, chemo or not!



43 comments:

texwisgirl said...

oh my! sounds almost like symptoms of a stroke! glad for you there weren't long lasting consequences! your poor friends! they probably felt really bad afterwards...

Nancy said...

My nephew is going through chemo right now for testicular cancer and did not heed the warning signs of blood clots that were forming in his lungs. Fortunately, they caught that early enough he didn't have a stroke.

Glad you got through this and can help others with your story. Takes alot of courage. :)

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

That sounds just horrible. So glad you were okay.
Have you tried seabands? You can get them at CVS next to the dramamine. I wore them 24/7 when I had really bad morning sickness. No drugs involved - they hit acupressure points. While they don't cure nausea, they do take the edge off a bit.

Jent said...

You should so write a book!
I am also so glad that you are here to tell your stories! <3

Furry Bottoms said...

It is so nice to have friends who will help you out! That medicine sounds nasty... and I am so glad there were no long lasting effects. You don't need that on top of everything else! Take care, friend.

The Wife of a Dairyman said...

That must have been such a scary thing to go through...I have a friend who thought she was in remission but just found out she isn't and your posts about cancer, knowing you got through it, is very helpful to me. Thank you.

Gerreke said...

Ik had net een berichtje naar je geschreven, maar toen ging het mis.

Maar wat een verhaal weer zeg. Tjonge jonge, had niemand anders in je omgeving iets gemerkt? Maar goed dat je het gezegd had joh, want anders waren ze gewoon doorgegaan!

Wat goed dat je er zo over praat. Het kan ook heel veel mensen helpen!

Dawson Cattle Company said...

I'm so glad you are okay.. that's so scarey. You are such a hero! I will say prayer for you.

Julie said...

Oh wow. Horrible. I am so sorry. Chemo is such an awful "cure!" Just makes me so angry but I know it is lifesaving, so I try to relax my anger. Eek. Glad you are okay.

It's me said...

Wat een verhaal zeg !! pfffff.....heel veel sterkte meis met alles !! liefa Ria...xxx...

Angelina said...

I totally agree with Jent... One day you will become a famous writer!

Loads of Love from
Mayk, Angelina and Brent.

Clint said...

My, you have been thru it. My heart goes out to you. You are courageous and an ispiration to many. I admire you. God bless.

Greenacremama said...

I hope your feeling better. Glad to know the dropping eggs humour you...they make me crave cadbury's mini-eggs. Have a Blessed day!

Sharon said...

You are very fortunate that more problems didn't occur because of the medication being administered for longer than prescribed! You seem to be your own lucky 4 leaf clover!

LindaG said...

Wow. I really hope you're doing better. God bless. ♥

Rae said...

I hated giving interferon injections to my patients knowing what they were about to endure. So many people quit the treatment because they can't stand feeling like they have the worst case of the flu ever. It is unfortunate you had to have problems with the nausea medicine too.

Larkrise garden girl said...

I hope you feel better soon.Your a wonderful writer and you have a great spirit!Illness is a pain my daughter battles MS and those sounds like what she goes thru sometimes.You sound like such a strong person I wish more people had your attititude. Hugs Cheri

Niece said...

You are truly an inspiration.....I hope if I ever face that "C" monster that I can have the courage that you show by writing about your experiences, so happy you are still here to share these stories.....God Bless You!

ann said...

I hope you never have to do any of that again. Bless you

Laoch of Chicago said...

Once long ago, I was given interferon for a nasty lung infection that I contracted in a hospital. It really was a nasty experience.

Farm Girl said...

That is such a incredible story, I am so glad you are okay now. But 52 weeks, oh my gosh what a long, long time.

Terry M Scott (AKA Terry Mann) said...

Oh Leontien, I'm so sorry that happened to you.
I'm glad you related the story to the Doctors otherwise you could have been taking the meds for even longer.
my prayers are with you.

Clipped Wings said...

What a nightmare! Thank goodness for good friends and family. I am so glad you are alright now. I have a friend who went through chemo therapy, and after she survived that, it took quite a long time for her body to get back to healthy and normal from the chemo treatments.

Kritter Keeper at Farm Tails said...

you poor thing, i cannot imagine what you are going through. i am in shock that the docs made a mistake about the med like that...surely those were signs of a stroke coming on? so very glad nothing permanent occurred...have you considered going to m.d. anderson in houston, tx? you shouldn't have to go through mistakes like that...you are suffering enough. i will pray for you tonight...

Out on the prairie said...

I have sat with many and this is not always a fun journey. I hope this worked well at your end. I work respite care volunteer.

Buttons said...

You take care my prayers are with you. It is great to have family around I know I have watched my family go through this to many times and I know if I need them they will be there for me just as I am for them. Take care and smile you have a great attitude so you are going to win. B

Leah @ Beyer Beware said...

Oops...well at least you had friends and family to put you to bed!!!

bon bon said...

you poor dear. i'm glad you have so many wonderful people supporting you through this!

Lana said...

What a tremendous amount of life you have lived in just a short amount of time. I do not know you well yet, but I am learning that you are a fighter who meets what life brings you with strong determination, enthusiasm, humor, and excitement. Here are to the many more decades of your life and all the fun to come!

Donna said...

What a story! I bet there was more to that story behind the scenes in the hospital when you left.
Glad you are OK and all turned out well!!

Anonymous said...

What a great post!

Lana said...

Testing 1 2 3

Lana said...

Working beautifully! :-)

diane b said...

How lucky that you had supporting friends and family. I believe the cure is worse than the illness.

Debra Ann Elliott said...

I've awarded you the One Lovely Blogger Award.
You can pick it up here.
http://highheelshotflashes.blogspot.com/2011/04/one-lovely-blog-award.html

Tamara said...

Stopping by from the hop, hope you'll come visit, too! http://hisperfectpromises.blogspot.com/

floweringmama said...

Wow, you are so inspirational. My father went through chemo for colon cancer. I remember the nausea for him was nearly too much. Thank God he's been in remission for almost 15 years.

I'm so glad you had your wits about you to mention the side effects.

Teresa said...

Every week when I hear more about what you went through, it makes me realize how strong you are. I'm so glad you've been able to move forward.

Kom Achterom said...

Goedemorgen Leontien,
Wat leuk dat je bij mij achterom bent geweest!
Ik kom dus gelijk even bij jou achter de deur kijken. Ik heb een beetje moeite met het lezen van engels maar ik begrijp dat je een heel zware behandeling hebt. OOw wat ben jij een kanjer dat je er zo over kunt schrijven. Je verhaal op de trekker is helemaal hylarisch! woehahaha dat zou mijn dochter ook kunnen doen. Stunts genoeg op een trekker, wij noemen haar hier inmiddels Truusje trekker, ze is nog bezig om haar certificaat te halen. Ik ga je ook volgen hoor! Mijn volgende post gooi ik Anton Pieck op de blog. Geen heimwee krijgen hoor gewoon lekker van genieten!! Maar ik begrijp wel dat je je lieverds die hier wonen mist en van die echt nederlandse dingen.
Ik ga in ieder geval een deel van jou leventje opsnuiven hoor! Wat een giga ruimte daar.
Ik ga nog even verder lezen!
ik wens je een heerlijke zondag
Yolanda

A man called Valance said...

I take my hat off to you, Leontien.

Debra Ann Elliott said...

You save the award to your computer, then post about it on your blog and place the award on your blog. You can pass it on to other deserving blogs as well.

Canyon Girl said...

I know your post will be helpful to someone out there. I'm sorry you had to go through so much and at a young age. I was 59 and I didn't have to have chemo. But great that you had so much support from family and friends. Take care, Inger

VaishVijay said...

My uncle is a survivor, and during his initial fight, he used to be darn tired after every chemo session...

Given your situation, chemo et al, you portray a cheery picture, through your positive words and beautiful shorts. Indeed, you are blessed for having this kind of courage!