Chemo has reduced me in ways I never imagined.

In the last weekend of June, a major excitement entailed a visit to our local pharmacy. It was as much energy as I could muster and in the proceeding days I had to put myself to bed at 6:45pm to make up for the energy expenditure. After walking around in a chemo haze and feeling like I would have an epileptic seizure from all of the lights and colourful discount signs hanging from the pharmacy shelves, I finally found what I needed. It’s a difficult world on chemo; making decisions, searching for things, stringing a sentence together. Chemo Brain has well and truly settled in.

The checkout chick asked me how my day had been but did not look at me. She asked me if I wanted a bag. As I left the store, I carried my concealed purchase in a paper bag. Like a drug and alcohol addicted soul, I could not wait. Scurrying away, I turned the street corner into the shopping mall. I rummaged through the bag and unscrewed the cap. How desperate I had become. I had to stop as I saw someone I knew approaching. After a short conversation, I looked for the all clear and as soon as they were out of sight I desperately unscrewed the lid and took a swig to address my affliction. I swallowed and wiped away the dribbled, chalky substance from my chin.

Oh Mylanta I think I love you! You take away the pain albeit for a brief time. In the forty eight hour zone after Taxotere is infused I find myself in a world of heartburn distress and it lasts for five days before retreating. As a Mylanta guzzling desperado, I am a shadow of my former self.

The nail cuticles are feeling the brunt of Taxotere. The toxicity of chemo is damaging the nail beds and some credit this with UV rays interacting with the chemo which is one reason so many women undergoing chemotherapy paint on dark nail polish as a preventative measure. The gothic “chemo manicure” or “chemocure” has not prevented nail damage for me. My nails are already lifting from my fingers. My tender and painful nail beds prevent me from buttoning and unbuttoning the clothes on my children. I cannot open cereal boxes, open car doors, or do up and undo a seat belts. But at least I can still unscrew the cap on the Mylanta bottle.

Only one more month of chemo to go.