A Hitchhikers Guide to Chemo

I’m just a passenger here myself. Nevertheless, ever since I’d typed the words, “Don’t Panic” in my first blog, regarding dense tissue Goddesses and the lack of need to worry that dense tissue may indicate some higher propensity for contracting breast cancer (it doesn’t! ), I’ve been drawn to the parallels in what may be helpful advise between The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy and my wish for a similar guide to my cure.
Having felt thoroughly dull and listless this past weekend, I availed myself of the resulting couch-potato-state I found myself in to peruse my official Seidman Cancer Center MY CHEMO GUIDE handbook. I don’t know, I thought it would help. If you are looking for some enlightening, up-lifting material, I’d recommend pretty much anything else . . . anything at all.
While I have been able to share some “fun chemo facts” to a certain extent, more of these chestnuts are revealed to me daily, and I thought it would be really valuable to line them up and organize them with appropriate “# Chemo-Girl Tips” on how to address them as the need arises, ala The Hitchhikers Guide directions.
So, here we go.
Regarding Pain Related to Your Treatment (or your congressman, or your co-workers) 
#Don’t Buy The Tylenol. 
I was told to take Tylenol for any pain I might experience. This advise was in my Chemo-Class just before I started my treatment. Yes, they really made me go to a Chemo-Class. I personally don’t care for Tylenol, it never helped with headaches, and it never helped with flu symptoms. Turns out, that’s because it isn’t an anti-inflammatory, and, fun general fact, most pain is due to some sort of inflammation. Tylenol does have the added feature of being really hard on your liver though, so, if your chemo-chemicals aren’t up to the task, you could finish taking your liver out by self medicating with Tylenol.
Not wanting to be unprepared for intolerable pain, I bought a bottle of Tylenol as was suggested, but because I don’t like Tylenol, I was choosing to “soldier through” both headaches and joint pain. When I mentioned this to my Physicians Assistant last week, she said, “Oh, take an Ibuprofen if you need something. Tylenol isn’t really an anti-inflamatory and the Ibuprofen will work much better anyway.” Let’s all observe a moment of silence to ponder who’s getting paid to recommend Tylenol to chemo patients. . . .
Okay, so, stock up on Ibuprofen then, because as Douglas Adams so succinctly put it in his Hitchhikers Guide, “You don’t want to go to heaven with a headache,” and as I’d like to point out, you don’t want to go anywhere on chemo with a headache.
Regarding Your Vision On Chemo
#Buy Eyedrops — and splurge on the good ones. 
From the very first infusion I’ve experienced what I was calling “eye-strain.” I was having difficulty reading road signs, and iPhones, and books, and things of that nature. My eyes didn’t hurt, I was just “straining” to see printed material.
Here was my “Well, duh,” moment number one. The chemo is dehydrating my body, which I KNEW, and which was why I have been drinking 52 ounces of water a day, but here was a place I could insert moisturizer into directly and it never occurred to me to do so. I never claimed Chemo-Girl was a genius.
Regarding Nasal Passages
#Invest in Kleenex — Seriously, if you have an extra $50, buy some stock in it. I guarantee a return for you. 
This was my “Well, duh” moment number 2, and my favorite. You know that hair that chemo patients can loose? We loose our nose hair too! Isn’t that a riot?!!! Nothing’s holding those drips back. Nothing.
This is a great example of how “You should always, always, always stay abreast of plans posted at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri.” sic D. Adams. I’m pretty sure this is the only posting on those nose hairs, so you’ll want to keep this guide handy if you ever end up here.
Regarding Chemo-Mouth
#Coconut Oil Soothes The Savaged Tissue
Aren’t I just chockful unpleasant function fixers? Well, the tender tissues that are normally ultra-hydrated are pretty hard hit by arid-facist-chemo-chemicals. What can I say? For some it is worse than for others. Actually, one of the most frustrating parts of My Chemo Guide is that it vaguely lets you know a great deal about the possibly-awful-that could-become-unbearble side-effects, and if you read the guide too carefully you could really want to do some research on cryogenic sleep after all. But, for the white patches and peeling tissue that is likely to occur periodically, swish your mouth with some coconut oil and keep lip balm handy.
More bon-mots from Mr. Adams, “Every once in a while it’s absolutely terrific if someone is trying to kill you . . . it means you’re on to something.”
I say, facing something like cancer has the “you can’t buy this knowledge” that you really want to live, and you know what your life is worth to you.
And finally, from the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, I’d like to leave you with this thought, “If you discover why the universe is here, it could be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. In fact, it might have already happened.” I’m hoping the cancer’s already been replaced too.

5 thoughts on “A Hitchhikers Guide to Chemo

  1. Luann,

    Another well-written, valuable entry!

    More unsolicited advice for you to take, tweak or toss…

    I think you should reach out to Seidman and make them aware of the disconnect between their pamphlets and the advice of their docs.

    I also think you might suggest how helpful it might be to have a portal/link on their website to blogs like yours … that is, perhaps, available to other patients of the Seidman Center. (Then again, maybe they would be willing to make it available to a wider audience.) What a great way for Seidman to create community and connection among patients.

    In any case, the Seidman website does have a link to “Support and Well-Being” and, I believe, you have a very meaningful contribution to make in that department.

    I suppose what I am saying … and what I have been saying all along … is that your voice and your insight is a gift that should be shared with a broader community.

    Taking on this audacious project and advocating for it is a testament to your grit, intelligence and abiding sense of connection with others who — past, present, future — share this experience. So consider reaching out to Seidman. What do you have to lose? More important, what do you — and others — have to gain?!

    As always, Luann, your honesty, humor and remarkable storytelling skills impress and inspire me.

    Sending lots of love, Debra

    On Mon, Dec 19, 2016 at 6:29 PM, Chemo Girl (okay, GIRL is a stretch) wrote:

    > Chemo Girl (in a manner of speaking) posted: “I’m just a passenger here > myself. Nevertheless, ever since I’d typed the words, “Don’t Panic” in my > first blog, regarding dense tissue Goddesses and the lack of need to worry > that dense tissue may indicate some higher propensity for contracting > breast can” >

    Liked by 1 person




    1. That’s telling it like it is.. with a splash of humor and sarcasm.. Like making lemonade out of lemons ! You do warm my heart with your wit and sincerity Luann.. I am on Team Lulu! …Maddy


  3. Luann, I want to thank you for the many enlightening facts you put together here with humor and sympathy. And I hope I never have to use these facts! Seriously, your writing is great fun to read, and I admire the way you wield your gift in the service of your mental and physical health. Keep up the good fight, my friend!


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