This blog is about my experience post initial chemo treatment. My treatment is 6 cycles, a cycle is two treatments in 30 days, roughly one every 15 days. Hence 6 months.
Remember that time your hangover was so bad that you couldn’t move? You would just puke everywhere? But then you got better later in the day.
I remember a few times where I got so drunk I couldn’t walk straight.
Shit, I remember one time that I actually RAN away from the people I was with because I didn’t want to drink anymore!
True story – I was working with the Rangers at Fort Benning GA and a bunch of them wanted to take me out on the town. If a young Spec. Ops. Soldier wants to take you out on the town – you go! Long story short, after doing more shots then I have ever done in my life, I ESCAPED out the back door of the bar we were in at 2 AM. Literally…escaped. I told the guys I was with that I was going to the bathroom, so I stumbled my way to the bathroom and realized two things:
I was wasted. Like stupid wasted.
The earth was at a weird angle…or at least I was.
I didn’t want to be sick in front of these guys, mostly because I didn’t want to hear how I couldn’t handle my booze (cause I can’t really) from my buddies. The Special Operations Community in general is like a college fraternity…but you get to kill bad people and blow stuff up, so it’s a little bit more intense. Ok a lot more intense. I didn’t want to be the bad ass who could tap out a bunch of RGR’s but couldn’t hold my booze…that would mess up my street cred.
You can't wear a shirt like this and NOT be a bad ass.
So I planned my escape while I was in the bathroom. I actually just walked out and stumbled around looking for another door out of the bar. EXIT STAGE LEFT! I stumbled around in Columbus for a while, with no car and no way to get home. I eventually called the girl I was dating at the time to pick me up. She asked where – I said Columbus. A few hours later I was finally home. I didn’t leave my bed for 36 hours, pretty sure I had a moderate amount of alcohol poisoning. But it was a great story! RLTW!!!
You know it's going to be rough when the people your with bust out their own drinking devices.
The after affects of chemo are NOTHING like a hangover. Except for the nausea and puking, but that’s it. And, as I explained to my son Logan, generally, when you puke, you feel better. Not so much with chemo sickness.
In fact, I have obviously never been pregnant (except for that one time I thought I was after the night I blacked out in Singapore…but that’s for a different story), but the symptoms of pregnancy and what I felt sounded eerily similar. My heart goes out to all my pregnant bitchez (I mean that in the socially acceptable way that the youth use the term, not the derogatory sexist way) out there, I feel you boo.
Day 1 – Chemo
It's self wasn’t so bad. Except, I had a reaction to one of the anti nausea medicines. Chemo induces such profound nausea in so many people that they actually give you a few different types of anti-nausea medicine BEFORE they even give you chemo. I was hoping I didn’t throw up, that was not the case.
Lesson 6 with Cancer – speak up! Don’t be afraid to tell the nurses everything that is going on with your health and anything that is out of the ordinary.
As they started to administer one of the meds I started to have some difficulty breathing. I felt odd sensations in my chest and neck. I started sweating profusely and generally got a sensation of “not right.”
After years of talking to people about their health problems and their lives it occurred to me long ago that if you have never experienced a sensation before like “stabbing pain”, “chest tightness”, “throbbing waves of background nausea interspersed with acute peaks of intense nausea” – it’s very difficult to explain to someone. The sensations I felt on the hospital bed in reaction to the meds were like that. Not the waves, but the “I don’t know how to explain this” kind of thing.
They stopped that med…which is unfortunate because that was a “long lasting” (3 days-ish) anti-nausea medicine.
The treatment took about 4 hours. It was 20 minutes of this, wait 10 minutes, 5 minutes of that, wait 20 minutes, 30 minutes of this followed by 10 minutes of that, wait 10 minutes, etc. I slept through the whole thing because of one of the meds they gave me.
I had every intention of “doing things”. I was going to write! I was going to read! I was going to play video games on my phone!
I slept. I liked it better that way.
I want to give props to the DHMC chemo nurses. They have a tough job watching all this go down with so many people. But, every one of them was great and they all had amazing interpersonal communication skills as well as just good customer service.
So, we left the hospital after 8 hours, got home around 7ish and I promptly fell asleep until 9 or 10 the next morning.
Rule number 7 with cancer – there are no short hospital days, and if there are, try and make it a long day.
Every week, during chemo, blood needs to be drawn to test various health aspects from immune function to hydration level and just generally ensuring the poison they pump into doesn’t kill you before the cancer. You also meet with your oncology team which may or may not include someone over seeing the trial if you are in one. Sometimes, you have to get medical imaging done also. Sometimes you meet with a case worker (like we did yesterday) who tries to help you deal with all the changes (I will get to those) you go through with cancer.
Do your self a favor – don’t get cancer. But if you are unlucky enough to get it, make sure you schedule full days of appointments. It’s better to let the hospital fill your day up, than go back every other day for single appointments.
Day 2 – Friday
I actually don’t remember feeling too bad on Friday. I think mostly because of the large amounts of anti-nausea medicine they pumped into me. But, I had:
Apparently become pregnant over night because my sense of smell, taste and mouth texture all changed + extreme morning sickness.
All in all, Friday wasn’t too bad from a physical stand point. We were leaving on a business trip to go to Providence RI that day for a seminar on Saturday. We figured we would get into the hotel early Friday night and be able to relax some. In the evening, my appetite came back a little bit. We went to a very nice Whole Food’s-esque grocery store to try and get some foods for me to eat. NOTHING looked appetizing and nothing smelled appetizing.
I think Friday night was the first time I threw up.
Day 3 – Saturday
I was really excited about going to this seminar with Dr. David Tiberio of Applied Functional Science and the GRAY Institute. I was lucky enough to work with and meet Dave by proxy through Gary Gray and was excited to have him talk AFS to Jamie (my partner/GF) and Christine (our head coach). I really didn’t want to miss this.
The man - Dr. David Tiberio.
For the most part Saturday DAY went off with out a hitch. I was very tired and occasionally I would get some waves of nausea, but during the day I only threw up once or twice in the morning.
The ride home – that was awful. I think I was sick 4 or 5 times in the 3-hour car ride home and another 1 or 2 that night. Apparently the anti-nausea medicine had worn off…lucky me.
I had a strong urge for meatloaf and macaroni and cheese, like pounds of it…with ketchup. I think it’s a PA thing.
Saturday I also noticed that my smell had changed. Listen, I am a health nut. I mean…I own a gym that preaches health and wellness. I don’t wear deodorant, don’t need it really. I actually can’t remember the last time I consistently wore deodorant. That shit gives you cancer yo! I do slather some hippy butter on occasionally if I know I am going to be in an environment where I care deeply about how I smell (out on the town, presenting, etc.), which usually amounts to a few times every other month or so. But generally, I don’t need it. I can’t smell that bad – I snagged this foxy momma!
I have found that most of the time, we as “civilized” humans are sense-dumb. We are blind to what our bodies show us on a regular basis. We are deaf to what our bodies tell us on a regular basis. And we are generally 100% incapable of wading through all the stimuli we get on a regular basis to figure out exactly what our body is trying to tell us.
Two points to ponder about how we are “dumb” to our bodies:
Dudes – if you don’t wake up with a boner at least 4 out of 7 days, you’re under recovering. This is regardless of age…at least up until 70 based on my experience.
Everyone – the more processed food you eat, the worse you smell. The more veggies you eat, the less offensive you smell. The more animal protein you eat in the ABSENCE of large amounts of veggies, the more offensive you smell. And for some reason…if you are low in zinc (and some other key nutrients), the more offensive you smell.
Odor is one of the strongest ways your body communicates it’s over all well being to you. Pay attention to it.
We (Jamie and I) both use a deodarant from a company called Green Tidings. It's good hippy butter.
But, one thing is for sure – in my opinion, if you have to wear deodorant because your stank is so funky it melts paint, than you probably are not eating in a way that is conducive to long term wellness.
Generally I don’t smell offensive. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have an odor, we all do. It is a byproduct of our physiology and diet, but on the whole, my odor is not offensive. My biggest proof of that is that since we opened KDR Fitness I have never consistently worn deodorant. I am good and know my shit, but if I smelled AWFUL (like some people do when they sweat) no one would want to be a member of our gym because my stank would permeate the premises.
That’s pretty good proof to not smelling bad.
Since the chemo treatment, my own body odor has changed and the smell of it makes me sick. I could go a few days with multiple work outs and not smell as bad as I do after one night of night sweats after taking a shower the night before. I can only imagine it’s my body sweating out the toxins of chemo.
Day 4 (Sunday) through Day 7 (Wednesday)
I tried that...it did not work Neal Patrick Harris.
Rough. I mean…Friday was rough, but Saturday was rougher…like the roughest. Like…the absolute worse you have ever felt x10. Between the morning sickness, the extreme sensitivity to smells triggering nausea, the zero desire/motivation to do anything and the overall emotional burden of everything…those days sucked.
In fact – they sucked so bad, I can’t even describe how bad they sucked. I would never wish how I felt on my worst enemy.
Post Day 7
Day 8 was the first day I had energy and a desire to be productive. In fact, that’s when I finished up my blog!
I think the hardest thing was not giving Jamie any attention or love. We are both VERY affectionate with each other. You would never know we own a business together and are around each other literally 24 hours a day for the last 8 years based on how affectionate we are. Day 8 was the first day I could really just touch her and be with my love with out it causing me to extreme nausea.
How can you not be all over that - Jamie "The Game Changer" Crowe
I met with my oncology team on Day 8 for a routine check in. One thing I will say about going through cancer is that, based on DHMC anyway, you are never alone, unless you choose to be. The docs are all great and very supportive and there are constantly groups meeting to help you get through it all.
I had a theory I wanted to run by my docs – was my “good health” contributing to how shitty I felt for 7 days after chemo?
My theory is – the less toxins you have in your body, the more something adversely affects you that may not affect someone going through the same experience with more toxins in their body. It’s simply a load problem. Because someone with a high toxic load is already in a state of extreme detox – what’s a few extra toxins on top of the shit they already pump into their body?
In short, they said some people get the same type of chemo I received with no ill effects and others have the same thing happen to them. But, that they did agree with me. The fact that I never really put extreme food or environmental toxins into my body was likely causing me to have a greater ill effect related to the chemo.
Damn you healthy living.
So what did I eat and how have my tastes changed?
I have never had so many bread (gluten free or sprouted grain of course!) products in my house, in my life! Currently I have 5 different types of gluten free/sprouted grain starchy carbs – two types of English muffins and three types of breads. I have an odd metallic taste in my mouth constantly that if I am not sucking or eating something tends to make me feel a little sick, coupled with the morning sickness and general sense of feeling like shit – for some reason, toast strongly appeals to me.
I generally eat 4 slices of bread and one to two English muffins per day with peanut butter or butter on it. I NEVER thought I would eat that much bread products! But…hey…fuck you cancer.
I also find myself craving really odd things…like fast food! I had a double burger with a small French Fry (I didn’t eat the whole thing) one day and a mashed potato, potato wedge and popcorn chicken the other day (again didn’t eat the whole thing). I can’t remember the last time I had fast food twice in two days. But, that’s what I was craving.
Anyone that says “Oh you should follow this special diet while you’re going through chemo” is an idiot…or at the very least, 100% uneducated and ignorant as to what it exactly feels like to go through chemo. Calories are the most important thing in life and specifically with chemo to prevent cachexia (wasting syndrome caused by chemo and specifically a lack of appetite coupled with throwing up every few hours).
I told one of my chemo docs that, they agreed with me 100%. I also said that they should go through a treatment so that they know what I am talking about. As soon as the words left my mouth I immediately apologized because that’s the worst thing you can say to someone.
Know Thine Enemy.
My biggest hurdle going into treatment, as a scientist, was the unknown. I hope, even though my oncology team assures me that it will get worse (HOW THE FUCK CAN THIS SHIT GET WORSE?!), that I have figured out the rough pattern for the next 6 months of my life – 7 days of hell followed by 7 days of feeling kind of normal to ramp up for another 7 days of hell.