Thursday, December 15, 2011

This is my brain on drugs

In the spirit of "keeping it real" and "full disclosure" and all that, I'll let you know that today was a rotten day. It was a chemo day, and I had an allergic reaction to one of my chemo drugs, Oxaliplatin. In what's now been 12 total months of chemo (9 months in my first course, and 4 months now this time around), this has only happened one other time. Last time, the reaction turned my torso a magnificent magenta, and I couldn't stop sneezing and itching. It was kind of a big deal to all the nurses, even though I felt relatively fine at the time-- I guess that kind of thing can be a bit dangerous if they don't get under control.

Now, 5 chemo cycles since the last reaction, the allergy again reared its shit-for-brains head. This time it took the form of semi-intense lower back pain. It felt like the moderates stages of back labor when you're about to give birth. Apparently my kidneys weren't digging the experience. To fix matters, they had to halt my chemo, give me a few hits of Dilaudid (ever seen the film, 'Drugstore Cowboy'? This is the morphine derivative that those junkies seek when they knock down the drugstores. Suckers. I can get that shit for FREE), wait a bit, then re-start the chemo on A V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W DRIP. What should have taken 4 hours took 8. We arrived at 8:40am and left just after 7pm. I was sitting in a chair most of the day, quite uncomfortable, alone with Neil, my nurse, Leah, and my spinning thoughts.

There were a few times I grew very upset today. I cried multiple times, sometimes quietly, sometimes blabbery and sloppily, out of frustration, fear, fatigue, anger, and pain. Usually I can handle those first four emotions well enough, but when you add the "pain" layer, your coping mechanisms quickly disintegrate and you are left feeling raw and weak. Susceptible to scary thoughts. I hadn't felt this way in a long time. (For proof, see my previous posts, even the one I posted earlier this very morning, for goodness sake, to witness the emotional see-saw).

Yep, that's the weird thing about this disease and its treatment. It can propel you into a sudden tailspin, with no warning. It spares no one, not even a balanced, strong-willed, happy, guns-blazin' person like me. Sometimes I wonder if after a few years of this, I will finally crack. I DO have my moments. I just wanted you to know that, since my last few posts have been all rainbows and cotton candy.

Speaking of pretty colors and sugar, the day did have some bright spots. My friend, Leena, and my mother-in-law, Bea, covered my childcare for much longer than they originally planned, and both kids returned at the day's end full of happy stories. I also received several sweet, unexpected emails from friends I hadn't heard from in a while. Those made me smile. They always do.

And, in my high-on-Benadryl -phase this morning (they give me 50ml of that drug, and honestly, it makes you BON-KERS!), I accidentally emailed a druggity drugged-out note intended for my friend Julie to my cousin's best friend in Ohio. Considering I've never once emailed her before, I'm sure it came as a surprise, hearing the news that even though I was totally high, I wanted to provide her with my new mailing address. Suave.

For that matter, if you ever feel like a good laugh, put yourself in my path every other Thursday around 10:30ish. I shock myself and undoubtedly others with the asinine, unfiltered comments that come flying out of my mouth.

Thanks, Benadryl, for the memories. Thanks, Dilaudid, for the lack thereof. Thanks, Oxaliplatin, for NOTHIN'. Should I win an Oscar this spring (Best leading actress, DRAMA), this will be part of my acceptance speech.


  1. I hope the Christmas magic of Ohio wipes out the memory of today. I am sorry it's so hard. Everyone appreciates your endurance. I wonder if they will switch up your chemo cocktail.

  2. Shelly, I texted Julie (Isabelle) Lee this morning when I intended to text Julie Lund. I don't have anywhere near the good excuse that you do, but I thought it might help to know we shared a similar experience. As I mentioned yesterday, I only wish that I could take your place for a day and have Neil take me to chemo instead. You deserve a break more than anyone I know, but I know you will keep soldiering on. Like a Marine!

  3. Hi Shelly,
    A mutual friend in San Francisco put me onto your blog when I was first diagnosed with stage IV CRC last March and I wanted to let you know how much it helped me get through the initial phase of treatment. Thank you. Just wanted to let you know you're not alone. I'm on round 9 of 12 of FOLFOX and it SUCKS. And it sucks to hear my 2 year old ask when mommy's going to be better. I get it. I hope you get through this next phase of treatment intact. YOU'RE NOT ALONE. One step at a time (roll eyes).

  4. We are so with you, Shel, through the good and the bad. You are so amazing. I just wish I could show up at the hospital every other week for a live show.

  5. Big love to you, Julia. So glad you posted here. Please keep in touch with me. We can talk neuropathy and stuff. Like regular girls our age do....