So far the progress through cycle 7 is a little mixed, but better (in general) than I was expecting. Essentially I have all the same problems that I’ve experienced with my previous cycles, with varying degrees of intensity as before. However, for some reason this cycle seems to be easier to cope with. I’m not sure if the intensity of the side-effects actually is lower, or just if I’m getting better at coping with them, but either way, the result is quite positive for me.
After an initial couple of days of complete exhaustion immediately after the IV infusion, my tiredness has been far better this time than the previous couple of cycles. I seem to be managing to stay awake all through the day without major difficulties. I do sometimes cat-nap for an hour in the early afternoon, but this is a big step up from my previous experiences where big chunks of the day (or week!) just vanished. The nausea that I initially reported on this cycle has also completely vanished, which is really positive.
My initial complete lack of taste on this cycle has now totally reversed itself, and although I do now have some loss of taste and a distinct tinge of metal to the taste that I do have, it’s no longer as bad as I experienced during the last cycle. Food does have taste again, and is definitely more edible this time around, which really helps.
Hiccoughs arrived a couple of days into the cycle (about the time my sense of taste started to return!), and have been present on and off ever since. However, they are not long-running for several hours as I experienced in some of the earlier cycles. I seem to get an attack of hiccoughs if I eat or drink something, but it generally lasts only a few minutes, and isn’t severe enough to be really irritating. In short, its a minor grumble this time around, which is really positive.
The peripheral neuropathy is the one side-effect which seems to have bucked the trend on this cycle, and is considerably worse than before. I have constant tingling in my fingers and feet, and considerable pain in my fingers, hands and feet if I get them cold. My feet are also blistering and peeling quite badly now, which is both uncomfortable and vaguely unpleasant in roughly equal measure. Still, there is nothing much I can do about it beyond put up with it, so that’s what I’m doing for now.
The other frustration for this cycle has been that my ileostomy doesn’t seem to have been going to sleep as quickly at night as in the past. During previous cycles I would find that unless I was struggling with an episode of high output, my digestive system would be pretty much shutdown by around 11:30-midnight, allowing me to settle down for a good nights sleep. Whereas this time around I seem to be finding that my digestive system is still running at full speed well into the small hours of the night, which makes it a lot harder to get to bed at a sensible time, as I generally need to empty the ileostomy bag last thing before going to sleep.
I’ve not been able to pin this change in behaviour down to anything different in my habits or food intake, so I’m assuming it’s just another random side-effect of the chemotherapy. Fortunately I’m a bit of a night owl anyway, so I just tend to settle down and read a bit later, watch another DVD, or tinker with the home network etc. It does make getting up in the morning more difficult though – I’m essentially time-shifting my sleep, which doesn’t fit well with the rest of the family. Now the kids are all back to school I’m going to have to resolve this, as I need to pull at least some of my weight in helping to get them up, breakfasted and off to school, which can’t be done from under the bedcovers!
Still, I can see my way though this cycle, and then I’ve only the last one to go before moving on to the challenges of the ileostomy reversal operation, and everything that comes with going under the surgeons knife again. But even that is positive really, as it’s one more (large) step back towards normalcy.