Sunday, October 27, 2013

75% finished with chemo!

Second only to planting flowers in the spring, this is definitely one of my favorite times of the year.  The changing of the leaves, bales of hay, scarecrows....
Jordan :)

Corny, I know.


I have a passion for pumpkin anything and everything.  I love the way they look, taste, and smell.  I have a weakness for  pumpkin latte', carving pumpkins, eating pumpkin rolls and pumpkin pie…you name it! Every year, we have a family tradition where we all select a pattern to carve jack-o-lanterns and spend hours cleaning out pumpkin innards, poking dots, sawing, and finally placing the candle inside to watch the magic!  Jeff, however, doesn’t share the joy of post carving finger cramps, so his job is usually limited to photographing the masterpieces.   This year, we weren't going to let this chemo treatment get in the way of our annual pumpkin carving fun!  Since we’re all fans of The Walking Dead, Lauren and I decided to carve the zombie bicycle girl and one of the show’s heroes named Daryl.  Jesse drew his own pattern and carved a traditional jack-o-lantern, and Oriana carved “Scraps” from Corpse Bride.  Jordan had an upcoming calculus exam, so he spent most of the festivities studying.  While carving, Lauren played the 75th anniversary edition DVD of the Wizard of Oz while we sang along. We finished the last pumpkin well past midnight and, thanks to those steroids, I was the last one asleep and the first one awake the next morning.

Jesse and Lauren's carvings

Oriana's "Scraps" carving

My "Daryl" from "Walking Dead"

During Thursday’s chemo infusion, Sylvia and Carol came to visit, followed by a short visit by Sylvia’s sister Sandy, Liz, and Lauren.  Only one third of the infusion chairs were in use and I selected one on the far end away from the restroom and the refrigerator.  I’m totally aware of the two person per patient policy, but I’m not asking anyone to leave, especially when they drive five hours and and/or take off work to see me!   Between the chocolate truffles, the cupcakes, and the time we spent pouring through old photo albums, the five hour treatment seemed like a song and a dance.

Carol and me

                                             Sylvia and me

Lauren and me

Well…the next day, I get a call from Dr. Moss saying that there were complaints from other patients wondering why there were so many “non- patients in the room”.  Dr. Moss explained to me that many of them were immune suppressed and trying to sleep.  I told her that I was mislead during the infusion lab tour.  We were assured that my “entourage” was welcome.  Dr. Moss said that they ARE welcome but only two at a time and added that it simply CAN”T happen again.  Sigh.  I certainly don't want to disturb anyone trying to rest, but I seriously doubt that was the case.  Thank goodness there’s only one more infusion…I’m trying really hard not to cry these days.  Every time I do, two or three eyelashes join the tears on the tissue.

My entourage/posse’ and I met a fantastic fighter at my last infusion. She posed while wearing boxing gloves at her treatment and had the nurse take photos for her friends.  I’m in awe of her beauty, strength, and courage.  She and I compare our war stories, as most of us women seem to do, and build each other up for the next round of the battle.  I have no doubt she’ll win.

I’m officially 75% finished with my chemo treatments, and for that, I am so happy!  As a result of my chemo treatments, my fingernails are turning black and could possibly fall off. The idea of that possibility has me, to say the least, completely freaked out.  Days 3, 4, and 5 are usually my miserable days following chemo treatments, so I’m hoping and praying that the nausea and migraines only lasts that long this time.   I'm finding that the nausea seems to be a little worse after each treatment, however, I'll do whatever it takes to distract myself from barfing.  

Lauren happened to mention that she’ll be in town interpreting for the deaf during Jamie and Bobby Deen’s cooking segment at the food show at Lexington Center on Saturday (typically one of my worst days after chemo).     I was...and mad that I couldn’t be there to watch her (and taste the samples).  Damn chemo!

Lauren interpreting for Bobby and Jamie Deen at the Food Show at Lexington Center.  She had her teammate Rose take a photo for me. :)

Jeff is a saint.  Now that he knows what I can tolerate eating and drinking while on chemo, he now makes the trip to the grocery for all the ingredients for organic chicken noodle soup and spends hours cleaning, chopping and preparing food for me. The rest of my diet during days 3-5 include rice, saltine crackers, Ginger Ale, Sprite, and Greek yogurt. That’s about all I can handle for a few days.  Somehow, however, I’ve managed to gain four pounds since I started my chemo treatment!  “Who does that?” I asked the nurse at Dr. Moss's office.  She said, “Thanks to the steroids, almost everyone, Ann.”  Well…great.

Happy Anniversary to my sister Gail and brother-in-law Shane!
(@ O'Neill's with Lauren and Jesse).

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Old Friends

It’s no secret that on most days I really love my job.  I’m aware that many people can’t say the same, so I know I’m very lucky.  I can live without the extra hours of paperwork or preparation for my next day, but I REALLY miss my retailers and my co-workers.  I long for my life before D-day.  Although I’ve been off ten weeks since my surgery, it seems like an eternity. 

On most days, I get my energy from interaction with people. For those of us with this personality type, isolation can be intolerable.   According to the oncologist, chemo patients' white blood cell count begins to plummet day 10 after an infusion.    I'm no longer on Neulasta (which stimulates white blood cell count) and am on Cipro (an antibiotic) instead.  Of course, antibiotics are great at killing infections, but won't help you if you get a virus like the flu. It's important that I stay away from public places. I've been to the grocery on a few occasions and use hand sanitizer every few minutes.  I'm constantly amazed at the people who cough and sneeze and don't cover their mouths. I've always despised grocery shopping, but now..I'm just relieved to get out among the living.  

I know that there are probably many of you who would welcome some time off from the daily grind.  I've been there.  Before D-day there have been days when I just needed a "mental health day" and wanted nothing more than to stay in bed in my pajamas with a good book and the TV remote control.

Be careful what you wish for.

I can hardly stand to watch TV, especially the week following chemo.  I read sometimes, but find that it’s hard to concentrate (chemo brain).  Besides, most of the books I like to read (about homeopathy, natural living, and health) make me feel like a failure.  Of course, there’s always the internet, where the kind words and overwhelming support help me make it through the day.   I'm now more careful with my Google searches as the information can either empower or debilitate me.   So often, however, I'm blindsided by information in links sent to me by well intended friends. 

I have gotten dozens of messages from friends of friends on Facebook.  Each of them has an experience with breast cancer and so many want to share their stories.  I used to click on them immediately and read every word. Now, I have Jeff screen them first and delete if necessary.  I’m amazed at the people who want to tell you all the gory details about what chemo and radiation did to them (fingernails and toenails falling off, blistering burns in their mouth, esophagus, and colon….I could write a whole page of these comments…).  However, one thoughtful woman named Pat sent me a link to a very inspiring blog by a woman with breast cancer.  Due to my unforeseen fragility, I’m limiting my internet stories/blogs/messages to this one for now. 

For my next chemo infusion, Sylvia will be driving from Indiana and Carol is taking the day off to sit with me.  I'm so lucky to have friends who for 21 years (Liz), 25 years (Carol), and 40 years (Sylvia), have been there for all the good, bad, and ugly times in my life.   Sylvia is my childhood friend whom I met in 3rd grade.  We were quite the trouble makers in school (pretty harmless but incredibly annoying to all adults, especially teachers).  From 3rd grade through college, it was an ongoing, unspoken contest to make each other laugh.  The biggest reward was when we made the other one burst out laughing in class or in church.  It happened every day. 

Senior prom 1982-Left to right-Pam and Sam, Walter and me, Missy and Joe,  
Sylvia and Randy

Sylvia (left), Pam, and me

Maid of  Honor in my wedding, 1986

Lauren's wedding 2012, a reunion of sorts. :)
Me, Pam, Sylvia, and Missy

  Look what Sylvia just sent me!  This will come in handy to carry books and files to doctors        appointments!

Carol used to be my neighbor in Lexington.  I'll never forget the day we met. I was 24 and Jeff and I had recently bought a house in Wyndham Hills subdivision.  Lauren was two.  I was working thirty hours a week, taking two classes at UK, and well...had a toddler.  I was overwhelmed to say the least. Despite the fact that we had been settled in our new home for a few months, I hadn't met any of our neighbors....until Carol rang the doorbell.  I had left the door ajar so I knew whoever was there knew I was home.   Wearing my pajamas and robe, I was changing Lauren's diaper on the living room floor. 

My house looked like Toys R Us exploded.  I thought...Oh Lord, I can't answer the door. Look at this house and I, no doubt, looked like I'd been hit by a train.  "Hellooooo!!!!" She peeked her head in the door.  "Hi! I'm Carol. I live across the street and just wanted to come by and introduce myself."  She had her daughter Shelley with her, who was just six months older than Lauren. Lauren was two. Shelley was 2 1/2.  Embarrassed at the time, I picked up some of the toys, ran a brush through my hair, and tried to be a cordial neighbor. Carol introduced her daughter Shelley to Lauren.   I said, "Hi Shelley.  This is Lauren."  Shelley said, in the most perfectly, clear voice..."Hi Lauren.  I'm going to Cincinnati this weekend. What are you doing?"  Lauren, looked up and pointed to the ceiling fan and grunted. Now, when you're 24, and this is your first child, you constantly worry that they're keeping up with the norm when it comes to physical and developmental growth.  At that age, Lauren just didn't have much to say. She waited until she was three and surprised us all by singing every last lyric to "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel.  

Jeff and I lived in that home for 10 years. During that time, I think Carol and I talked almost every day.  After we moved to eastern Kentucky, she comes every summer to float with me in my hillbilly pool.  

It will be so good to see them both next week.  I'm guessing there will be lots of laughter. 
Look at the picture that Carol sent me.  It says, "Dear You. May you give yourself permission to trust your voice, step into your power and know that what you're doing matters."  Perfect!
Carol and Shelley (left), about a year before we met and at Shelley's graduation

Carol and Lauren (almost three)

Lauren's first friend

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Dance

One year ago today, on the most beautiful day of the year, my daughter Lauren and son-in-law Jesse were married at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Lexington.  Anyone who has ever planned a wedding knows the preparation required to feed and entertain 150 guests, and somehow manage to make the day memorable and special for your only daughter.   Looking back on that gorgeous 70 degree day, with all of it's minor mishaps, I can honestly say in hindsight that it was....perfect! 

At the time, I was upset that the florist shorted us a corsage and some boutonnieres, the priest decided to change the program at the last minute, and the church wedding planners were just...rude.   I also remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I noticed several guests opening the mini mason jars of m&m's placed at each setting and watched them guzzle those candies in the dark.   I wondered how many people actually noticed Lauren and Jesse's names and faces on each m&m.    Now, all I can remember is seeing the smiles and feeling the love in that church and at The Barrel House.  

Jeff and I were able to spend some time with friends and family we hadn't seen in years, meet Jesse's family from out of town, dance to oldies with each other and our children, knock back a few shots (ok. That was just me.), and have the evidence immortalized on film at the photo booth.
One year later, I look back at the wedding and reception photos and marvel at the beauty and perfection of those six hours in time and different would this day have been had I been diagnosed one year earlier?  Would I still have been a stage IIB?  Would I have enjoyed myself as much...or more?  Would I have cried through the whole ceremony and reception?  

In each photo I'm in, as if I have x-ray vision, I see a big imaginary infra-red circle on my right breast, zeroed in at "4:00"...the medical team's name of the location of my cancerous tumor before it was removed on 8/9/13.  I'm mad at myself for being too busy keep up with my annual mammograms, angry that I didn't find it myself, and completely thrilled that I didn't know on that particular day...what I know now.  It reminds me of the Garth Brooks song The Dance.  

Looking back on the memory of 
The dance we shared beneath the stars above 
For a moment all the world was right 
How could I have known you'd ever say goodbye 
And now I'm glad I didn't know 
The way it all would end the way it all would go 
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain 
But I'd of had to miss the dance 
Holding you I held everything 
For a moment wasn't I the king 
But if I'd only known how the king would fall 
Hey who's to say you know I might have changed it all 
And now I'm glad I didn't know 
The way it all would end the way it all would go 
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain 
But I'd of had to miss the dance 
Yes my life is better left to chance 
I could have missed the pain but I'd of had to miss the dance

                                                                            Garth Brooks

To my daughter Lauren and my son-in-law Jesse: May you always be as happy as we all were that day.  I love you both! 

                                                        Helping Lauren with her bracelet.
Helping with the veil.
Our little family 
One of my favorite photos EVER!
                                          The beautiful couple at the beautiful alter at Good
                                                           Shepherd Episcopal Church.
My fellas and me.
Father/Daughter dance
First dance as husband and wife.
                                                                    Friends for 40 years!
Me, Pam Roberts, Sylvia Kostbade, and Missy Floyd
The Fleischer family
Our family at the rehearsal dinner.
Liz and me
Lauren and Jesse try out the photo booth.
Jeff and I trying to figure out the photo booth!
Martine's masterpiece
M&M guest favors
Pumpkin carving
Jordan showing Oriana and Hannah his new dance move.
Brittany, Lauren, and Emily-childhood friends.
The Yannelli family 

Mr. & Mrs. Jesse Yannelli

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What a Difference (No) Neulasta Makes!

I really didn't want to follow my happy/ blessed/ bald is beautiful post with a depressing chemo post, yet I felt compelled to answer all those questions I've recently received.

So many people have asked me what chemo feels like and if the side effects are what you often see portrayed in the movies.  For me, they've not been what I expected. I haven't barfed once, and for that, I am eternally grateful.  I hate barfing more than anything. I will do anything to avoid it. If I hear, see, or smell someone barf, I join the party. I can't help it.  Jeff has always been the official dog and child barf cleaner-upper. In the movies, everyone barfs on chemo.  Dr. Moss prescribed a bottle full of pills named Compazine for nausea. I've taken three, but everyone is different.

As for the hair, or lack of it, I'm confused. My hair was coming out in clumps, and as you know,  I shaved it. Well, now I have stubble where its growing back. WTF?!  It feels like Velcro!  So here I am in the bathtub with hairless legs (yay!), Dove armpits, and a Sinead O' Conner stubbly head. Because it itches and drives me crazy, I shave it.  What I didn't realize until Liz's hairdresser Morgan shaved my head is that my head is one big cow lick! It grows in every direction.  I'm not supposed to be using a razor because cuts don't heal when you're on chemo, and of course there's the risk of infection.   But I'm really careful.  Did you know that chemo patients can't even have a pedicure or manicure?  Nails must be trimmed really short ( to avoid infection and possibly scratching yourself).  I haven't had long nails in years but I miss those pedicures almost as much as I miss my hair.

Ok...back to chemo/Neulasta...

What a difference (no) Neulasta makes!   You may remember from a previous post that Neulasta is a $6,000 injection given to chemo patients the day after their infusion.  This drug's purpose is to pull the white blood cells from the bone marrow, therefore decreasing the likelihood of contracting a virus or infection.  The most common side effect is bone pain.  For me, that's the understatement of the year.   Of course, everyone reacts differently to chemo and Neulasta, so my experience, at least with the Neulasta, I'm told, wasn't the norm.  Thank God for all those other patients!

I've learned a lot about myself over these past few months.  When it comes to physical pain, I thought I had a pretty high tolerance..  At least my neurosurgeon who performed my back surgery, my family doctor, and my husband who witnessed me giving natural childbirth have all told me so.  I disagree.  So, here was round one compared against round two:

Round one:  Imagine having the flu, where everything on your body hurts.  Your teeth are chattering.  You're queasy but never throw up.  You also have a debilitating migraine
headache and are then forced to ride the carnival ride (is it called the Round Up?) where everyone stands in a circle and it spins faster and faster until the floor eventually drops.  Thanks to centrifugal force, you're pinned against the wall.  For anyone out there who has had six too many drinks and have had the spins....same concept.   To avoid terrible allergic reactions to the toxins in the chemo, you have been pumped with a massive doses of steroids.  These make you a jittery, sleepy, exhausted insomniac. In one week, I slept a total of 8 hours. 

Now, this is where the Neulasta side effects come into play...While curled up in the fetal position, every two or three minutes all day and night...for 48 hours, an anvil or wrecking ball would slam me in my neck, shoulder, and back.  I would jolt each time.  I was told that wherever you have had previous trauma (arthritis, broken bones, dislocated shoulder from falling out of a jacuzzi tub, etc.), you will feel Neulasta's effects there.  Of course, I was still dealing with the swollen eggplant colored breast, adding to the discomfort.  

Yes.  This is an untouched photo of my eggplant colored skin.  

Now for the good news. Dr. Moss is replacing Neulasta with Cipro, an antibiotic so there has been no wrecking ball or anvil beatings!  Thanks to Restoril, I'm finally sleeping during this round!!! The nausea, headaches, Round Up ride, spins, etc. are back and are from the chemo.  They only lasts 5 or 6 days.

For the remaining 15 days (until the next round), I'm more tired than usual but can definitely function.  The "chemo brain", which Jeff is convinced I will use for the rest of my life as an excuse for losing at Trivial Pursuit or forgetting ice at the store, is driving me insane!   I have always had this freakish ability to remember names,  phone numbers, and dates (specifically birthdays).   I have forgotten so many names and numbers since that first infusion, I've shocked myself.  It's a big source of frustration for me and  I pray that the brain function completely returns. 

By the way, Moss says that the steroids shouldn't last longer than a week, and thinks that my insomnia is stress induced.  You think?

Jeff and I were just discussing that it had been 104 days since my diagnosis.  It seems like a lifetime ago.   To distract myself, I watch TV and sometimes become angry and resentful watching the cancer-free drama queens worry about their split ends and their muffin tops spilling out over their skinny jeans.  Meanwhile, I cover my freezing cold bald head with an elf cap (makes me laugh), pull up my flannel pajama pants over my muffin top, and thank God I still have eyebrows and eyelashes.  It's the little things that keep us going. :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bald, Loved, and Blessed

I can't remember feeling more loved than I did on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday.  It began when I e-mailed my first of the month retailer newsletter.  Within an hour or so, I received a barrage of heartfelt comments and messages of love and support from dozens of co-workers, retailers, and clerks.  It's those comments and encouraging words that have kept me going those past few months. 

Last week my cousin Sheila sent me an e-mail saying that she had noticed on my Bucket List on my blog that I wanted to paint an impressionistic work of art.  It just so happens that she's a brilliant professional artist who's been painting for over 50 years.  This incredibly generous woman took the day off to drive from Cincinnati to Lauren's apartment in Lexington for a private lesson for Lauren, Jordan, and me.  We all selected our own photos to paint and among many other important lessons were taught about composition, the rule of thirds, the importance of painting the darkest colors first, and holding your brush at the end of the paint brush (not like a pencil).  Apparently, the most common mistake that artists make is to overwork their paintings.   Of the three of us, I was the worst at that (not too surprising).  She kept having to tell me to, "STOP! Leave it alone! Don't mess with it!"  She was so right. 
 We  reminisced about her wedding to my first cousin David around 1974. In a long bohemian gown with hair past her waist and a wreath of flowers in her hair, I thought she was the most beautiful bride I'd ever seen in my life!  The wedding was outside in a field and there was a long-haired guitarist in the tree playing "Stairway to Heaven".  The groomsmen all wore white overalls. My first cousin David had shoulder length blond hair with John Lennon glasses. I was ten years old and enthralled with the "grooviness" of the moment.   Although I rarely see them these days,  I feel lucky to be related to such a creative and talented couple.
Sheila considers herself a hard, mean teacher, but she must have been extra kind to us knowing that I was going to have my head shaved in a few hours.  We laughed, and learned way more about art than I ever imagined we would in 4 hours!  It was the best time I remember having since Lauren and Jesse's wedding almost a year ago.  Simply perfect!

Jordan, the artiste
A "selfie" of Sheila (left) and Lauren, Jordan, and me.
Lauren and me, with blank canvases. We were already having fun! 
Lauren's landscape (far left), my impressionistic tulip painting of one of Jeff's photographs (center) and Jordan's painting (far right) of one of his own photographs. We were very proud, seeing as it was our first official lesson.  Sheila was an excellent teacher!

Right after the lesson that afternoon, it was time to head to Liz's for a head shaving party.   Her hairdresser, Morgan, works at Allure and volunteered to drive to Liz's house for a private head shaving.  Liz, of course, made a party of it, and provided a spread of hor d'oeurves and cocktails. Ironically, I was the only one not drinking. I don't want to add more toxins to my already toxic load.  Instead, she found the best fruit/ veggie smoothie at Whole Foods and put it in the a huge martini glass.  We proposed several toasts, and I really enjoyed learning about Morgan and her three year-old daughter. My head felt safe in her hands.

A toast to bald heads, among many other things.

Morgan, Liz, and me.

Last  Wednesday, one week ago, my hair was thick enough to secure with an elastic band without twisting and wrapping it around more than once.  Beginning on Saturday,  I noticed that, in the shower, the hair was coming out in mass quantities. For the next four days, this happened on a daily basis. I'm amazed that I had any hair left by Wednesday.  I was so tired of vacuuming and lint rolling hair from my clothes, bed, floor, and walls!!

This was at the bottom of the shower on Saturday       That same morning, I blow dried my hair    morning 16 days after first chemo treatment.                on the back deck and cleaned out the                                                                                                    brush after each swipe through my hair.                     

After four days of vacuuming and lint rolling hair from the bed and pillows, I decided it was time to shave it off. It was getting really thin on top.   After four days, I had to wrap the elastic band 6 times around my hair to secure a pony tail.  It was time. 

After four days of hair loss                                      My Godson Grant video taped the event and
                                                                                   kissed me afterward. What a sweetheart!

Bald and loved.  

 Liz placed a chair on her back deck and everyone crowded around snapping pictures, giving hugs and kisses, and complementing my round head. I always thought I had an Uncle Fester head.  I just need a light bulb to put in my mouth. My head has always been bigger than average. I've always loved trying on hats in department stores. Half the time, the hats just sit on  the crown of my head.  Jeff and I often share reader glasses and his always squeezes my brain. I once measured our heads and mine was a full 1/2 inch bigger. I thought it was my thick hair but, nope, I just have a fat head.

Did you know that  jumping spiders use water droplets as hats?  Lauren had written that on her
dry erase "happy" board in the new guest bedroom and I shared that info with Liz.  She, of course, found a photo of one and framed it for the special occasion.

Then it was time to go upstairs to Liz's bathroom, where all eight of us sat and watched Morgan shave it clean with shaving cream and a razor.  Jeff sat on the toilet snapping photos and everyone else was crowded in and around her Jacuzzi tub watching the show.  She then trimmed and styled my two new wigs and also gave me a lesson in scarf tying. The day was as perfect as it could have been.


Once my 15 year-old Godson Grant  left the room for a minute, Jeff said, "I never thought I'd say this in public honey, but....great head!"  Our 21 and 26 year old children were mortified, while the rest of us laughed.  Jeff has a way of easing tension in a room, especially when it's mine.

I'm surprisingly ok right now.  I do feel a bit liberated.  The next morning, I took a shower and knocked about an hour off of my morning grooming time (hair washing, conditioning, leg shaving, blow drying, flat ironing, hot rolling....)  That doesn't even count the eyebrow plucking and waxing. You see, my mom's side of the family are German Jews and my dad comes from Cherokee Native Americans. I get it honestly.

The next day, I began chemo round 2.  It was a lighter crowd this time:Jeff, Liz, Lauren, and my cousin Angel whom I haven't seen in years.  It was so nice to catch up with her. 
Liz and my cousin Angel

The four hours seemed to fly by this time, and I was grateful for the love and and to close my eyes for a few minutes or so.   I had slept a grand total of one hour the night before (steroids!), and was pretty exhausted.  Dr. Moss changed my medication slightly so that it will take care of the sleep and other issues:

Restoril (no more Ambien again...EVER!)- 15-30 mg (I took 30 mg and slept 6 hours last night-thank you God!)
Effexor- (increased from 37.5 mg to 75 mg - an anti-depressant and helps with night sweats and hot flashes).  Since June 28, I used to cry my eyes out almost every day. That has subsided in the past week or two and I'm so grateful. 
Cipro-an antibiotic replacing the Nuelasta shot (which will help avoid infection). It's not as effective as Nuelasta so I have to be diligent about avoiding the public, infection, and taking my temperature several times a day.  But, I will hopefully avoid a lot of the bone pain and side effects from last month.  I'll know more in the next few days whether that was a good idea.  Unfortunately, Dr. Moss said that my chances are better of contracting mucositis when not taking Neulasta (more on this special malady in a bit). 
Iron- I knew this would happen, as I was diagnosed with anemia two years ago. Dr. Moss finally approved this supplement and said that once the menopause kicks in ("Should have already happened," she said, and that my iron count would greatly approve). If it didn't, I would be too weak to walk and have to consider ablasion outpatient surgery, even before my chemo treatment was over.  That's where they burn the lining of the uterus with a laser.  Pain and side effects last only a few days.  Between that and the chemo, I should never have another period again.  Talk about a silver lining to this whole nightmare! 
Lortab- for the pain caused by my inflamed breast which happens with every chemo infusion... Whenever you have had any kind of cut, incision, or inflammation, chemo makes it flare up again.  Great.  The purple eggplant honeydew returns again.

Mucositis is a very common side effect of chemotherapy. Apparently, it's one of the worst of them all.   Chemo can often scald your entire entire digestive tract, so it means more than just your mouth. It's your throat, esophagus, your stomach, colon, rectum and anus. (Again, sorry if you're reading this over breakfast). Everything is withered, burning, and intolerable.  Thank God, I haven't experienced this side effect (knock on wood).   Doctors often prescribe something called "Magic Mouthwash" for the mouth sores, but I've read online and received several FB messages  recommending I order some different products online BEFORE it happens.  I plan on doing it because I'm a good girl scout.  I like to be prepared and always believe that by packing an umbrella, it's destined to be a pretty day.  On the other hand, I had the opportunity to buy AFLAC cancer insurance available by my employer (which I DID NOT do!), and well...see how that worked for me. 
The chemo often causes several mouth sores to appear concurrently in your mouth and the pain is supposedly excruciating, even when not moving your mouth.   It's like having a mouth full of canker sores and fever blisters on your lips, mouth, tongue and throat.  Seeing as one fever blister has me running to the drug store for tubes of Abreva I apply every fifteen seconds, I can't imagine the torture of having them everywhere in your mouth.   Home health care nurses seem to know a lot about magical remedies that doctors and infusion nurses haven't even heard about since the real battle begins once you leave the infusion center.  Unfortunately, most insurance companies don't cover home health care nurses.  I just happen to read about these treatments online and on my Facebook posts form friends and mutual friends.  (A special thank you to Omar Azam!).  The remedies are supposedly magical.   Of course,  this first one must be ordered out of the country  (Canada or Australia- not sold in the U.S.). It's a dental product called Gelclair, however dentists aren't usually educated about chemo health care.  I also had read that Aloe Vera juice, a coating tonic which soothes much of the stomach issues.   Liz picked up some of that for me at Whole Foods.  There are a few more homeopathic remedies such as Slippery Bark Lozenges (Thayer's Brand). I had also read about Carafate, a syrup which lines your entire stomach and is quite blissful. Since I'm most worried about the mouth sores, I plan on ordering the Gelclair from Canada...just in case, because I was always a good girl scout.  My mom, the girl scout leader, would have surely sewn a new badge on my sash for planning ahead on this occasion.  Neglecting to buy the AFLAC cancer insurance, she might have given me a nice long front of the whole troop.