Chemo 5/12

Today began with the first course of my Thanksgiving Triathlon.  I had originally intended to swim a mile, the equivalent of ~36 (=5280/3/25/2) laps in a 25 yard pool.  After the 26th lap or so, I reasoned that because this distance was only a bit longer than my normal swim, a mile wouldn’t represent a true challenge.  So I bumped up the day’s goal to a mile and a half.  Since the kids are on vacation today, I was in no particular hurry to return home, and I slowed to a more leisurely pace to help ensure I could go the distance.  By the time I’d completed the 53rd and final lap I had been in the pool well over an hour and my fingers and toes had metamorphosized into raisins and prunes.

Pickling on the outside:  check.

Pickling on the inside:  to be completed later at the infusion clinic.

If I don’t see another popsicle ever again, I won’t be sad.  I’ve been sucking on them during the Taxol administration to help prevent mouth sores and taste changes.   Either I’m not as susceptible to these maladies or the popsicles are working.  I certainly do not plan to stop cooling my mouth because I don’t want to find it’s the latter.  For the past 2 weeks I have been eating berry/lemon/strawberry popsicles from Trader Joe’s.  One is tasty, two a bit of overload, three cloying, and ten (the number I’ve found needed to spread out to an hour) turns out to be nine too many.

On Monday I cruised the freezer aisle at TJ’s in search of a replacement. My bright idea was to try out their coffee/cream and mango/cream bars at today’s infusion.  After 14 bars (they’re tiny, about half the size of ice cream sandwiches), my stomach started to ache and distend.  I tensed, wondering whether I might be having a rapid reaction to the Taxol.  Funny, though, because the symptoms closely mimicked my typical reaction to dairy products …

Wait a second!  I wasn’t reacting to the Taxol.  I was suffering from lactose intolerance.  After scrutinizing the product boxes more carefully, I realized that not only did the mango/cream and coffee/cream bars have actual cream, they also contained nonfat and full fat milk powder.  A triple lactose dose, almost guaranteed to trigger a reaction in my digestive tract.  Oops. Perhaps it wasn’t such a bright idea after all.  Luckily, I had two of the berry/lemon/strawberry bars on reserve to finish out the hour.

Otherwise the chemo session proceeded without incident.  Two nurses stopped by to check on my hair progress.  The nurse who took care of me today (for the first time) gently inquired in a couple of ways if what I had I my head was all my hair.  I think she was waiting for me to admit that I was using extensions or even a wig.  This reminded me of when my daughter was small and passersby would remark about how she looked like Shirley Temple.  A few followed up by asking whether hers were natural curls, with the implied alternative that I brought my daughter to have a hair permanent before the tender age of 5.

On another note, I have concluded that moleskin smeared with a little vaseline performs significantly better than feminine products to insulate the ears from cold and cushion the neck from the chinstrap.  The pantyliners and overnight pad had their entertainment value but were crinkly loud and insufficiently sticky so I was always afraid they would fall off.  Maybe they weren’t intended for use on people’s heads after all.

Five chemo treatments down and just one more until the half-way mark.  I can definitely do this.

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