What they don't tell you...

When you hear the word chemotherapy, you usually associate it with the inability to get out of bed for days on end due to nausea, tiredness and achy bones.

Now, as a regular client of Doxetaxel, I associate it with a lot little irritants that no one told me to expect.

First off, it felt like I had a constant sore throat, like I was going to get a cold.  I'd sometimes feel like I was going to lose my voice, or that I couldn't talk for long. Thankfully, so far, the sore throat hasn't developed into a full blown cold which I attribute to my daily lemon, honey and turmeric drink.

Another addition to my morning routine was gargling to keep the mouth ulcers at bay.  A friend introduced me to matcha.  Initially I wasn't a fan, but now I gladly include a gargle of matcha as part of my morning routine and thankfully I haven't had a mouth full of ulcers.  Another benefit, which I'm blithely linking to gargling matcha is that for the most part, my taste buds haven't been affected.

While my taste buds haven't really been affected, I have gone off some foods and had random cravings for others!  I crave starch, carbohydrates and gherkins!  I don't know if this is because I avoided most carbs before due to IBS.  Now, with the help of chemotherapy, I'm no longer constipated and so have been able to indulge in bread and pasta.  They are also relatively plain foods and so great for the days following chemo when you don't feel like eating any strong flavours.

With each visit to A&E came a healthy dose of antibiotics.  What no one told me was the antibiotics give you diarrhea, and it burns on the way out.  I'm not sure if it's the chemo or the antibiotics that makes it burn but it's not an experience I've had before.  Say no more.

Thankfully I've only had very mild neuropathy - tingly toes and fingers.  This was most pronounced after cycle three when the chemo really knocked me.  I've found reflexology using frankincense essential oil has helped.

At one stage I thought I was getting old and really forgetful as I'd start explaining something and then not be able to finish my sentence as I couldn't think of the words.  However, I'm now putting the reduction in my verbal prowess down to good old chemo brain and am hoping I'll be back to my eloquent self again once the chemo has finished!

Of all the side effects, the one that's affected me the most is watery eyes and a runny nose.  Considering all the side effects, it's probably a good one to have, however it's not half embarrassing.  The chemo has made my eyes dry so they produce tears, however the tears keep coming and coming and then my nose joins in too for good measure.  I'm constantly wiping the tears away which in turn makes my eyes and eye lids even redder - so much so that I have people coming up to me to ask if I'm ok.  To the outsider it looks like I'm walking down the street crying or getting overly emotional over buying groceries.

The other side effect, which I was expecting was lethargy and fatigue.  I've found that nana naps in the afternoon are a wonderful thing, however you need to limit them as if you sleep too long, you can't sleep at night.  The other thing that's helped and that has been hard to do initially, is get out for a walk.  Who knew that the simple act of getting out in the fresh air could be so rejuvenating.

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