Chapter 3: Gettin’ wiggy with it

This past week, since I was freed from the hospital following chemo, has been really up and down. I was told that 7 to 10 days after chemo I most likely would feel really tired and exhausted; my blood count would drop really low and then would start to rise again in the days following, but I didn’t really put 2 and 2 together until I was visiting a friend on Saturday, feeling like death, and I worked out that it was day 8 post-chemo. If you think you’ve been tired before, let me tell you, you don’t know tired. I have felt tired before, the kind of tired after a 10-hour busy bar shift on your feet, where you feel like you probably shouldn’t be driving home without having a nap first. I would take that kind of tired over how I felt 4 days ago in a heartbeat. Chemo tired is like your body weighs tonnes; like holding your head up and supporting yourself to sit upright is too much. All I wanted to do was lie down. I felt like my body wasn’t mine like someone had put me inside this weak, feeble body that was exhausted to the core. It has taught me that I need to do less and just listen to what my body is telling me in the days following my next chemo.

I’ve been lucky so far (touch wood) with regards to symptoms. When they listed the possibilities to me (it’s a very long list) I thought ‘Oh god, please no’ to most of them, like loss of taste and smell, mouth sores, nails falling off, skin peeling off, tingling and loss of feeling in hands and feet and lots other delightful things. Either the chemo drugs, or the high dose steroids I was on alongside them, gave me the most excruciating jaw and mouth pain, but luckily that has subsided now and I can eat and drink like normal. It was like all the muscles in my jaw, mouth and throat swelled up and became inflamed, and all the taste buds and nerve endings in my mouth became over-sensitised. Putting a single piece of plain broccoli in my mouth and letting it sit on my tongue was like an explosion of pain and my mouth would water and my eyes would run. But like I said, it’s stopped now so that’s a positive at least.

The thing is with me being one of the more high priority patients in the haematology/oncology unit (because of how bad things were prior to the first chemo), I have found that they are being very over-cautious with any extra symptoms that I have. I’m not complaining in the slightest, I would much rather they be this way than they were under cautious (is that a phrase?). But it meant that when I had a funny moment and felt like I was going to pass out of course they wanted me to go to a&e to be checked out. I was fine, apart from a slap on the wrist for not drinking enough and being dehydrated. 3 litres a day is a lot!!

I also went to see, as I keep referring to them, the wig people. Sounds like an alien race about to invade the planet. It was not what I expected to be honest.

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I had imagined that I would try on a longish wig, shorter than my hair was at that point, and it would look great! It didn’t. I tried on a few that were shoulder length or a bob and they looked horrendous. I mean just awful. They made me age about 10 years instantly, and they looked like wigs. Like big fake hair. That’s not what I wanted at all. I mean I know everyone who knows me will know that it’s a wig, and that doesn’t bother me, but I don’t want to be out in public and have a complete stranger know that it’s a wig because that kind of defeats the point. Anyway, tried on some shorter styles, like I used to have my hair, and they looked pretty good and realistic! They’re going to try and see if they can get the style I like in red too so I can have my red hair again without any of the damage! I think I will still buy a wig in some extravagant style and colour to have also; I’m thinking dusty lavender… 😍

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I also went and had my own hair cut off short too before it starts to come out in clumps. It’s quite ironic to have to cut my hair off before I lose it to cancer, to then donate the hair (because it was looong) to a charity that makes wigs for children with cancer. It would have been posted already, had I not left it in the hairdressers in an envelope. Let’s hope that the staff in the next day didn’t think it’s some kind of ransom…

‘Give us the money or it’ll be more than hair next time…’ 😂

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