Sunday, March 29, 2009


The hives covered my hands. Need I say more about why there was no post last night? Seriously. Hand hives. Who does that happen to?? Me. Of course.

Allow me to describe my Friday night post-posting to you. I played a fun little game we'll call Misery Slots. See, I had three things going wrong intermittently all through the night, any one of which was enough to keep me wide awake. First, of course was the hives--which periodically would flare up and make me want to tear at my skin. Then there was the hot flashes--see, among other charming things about chemo is that it sends you (well, me, in this case) into early menopause--which may or may not last. So hot flashes, night sweats, all those lovely things, are common. And then there was the indigestion--which is what I suppose is the common name for the elephant stepping on the middle of my chest. Every so often it would feel like a tennis ball got lodged in my esophagus, and all I needed to do was swallow it. Right. Because that's comfortable. So sometimes one of these things would occur. Sometimes two, and if I hit the misery jackpot, all three were up together and the bells would ring, the siren would go off, and ....there was no jackpot payoff. Except total misery. Did I mention I didn't sleep? Well, I did...the first two hours after Benadryl, but then I was wide awake and thrashing about.

The steroids take sometime to take effect, so it was hydrocortisone cream, Calamine lotion (seriously, when was the last time you had to use Calamine lotion? I was desperate) and Benadryl as often as possible. Finally morning came. Steroid dosage!!! I started to feel a little better around noon on Saturday. Which is also when my dad called. My dad is a chiropractor--with a lot of medical background and always has really good medical advice. I just sometimes forget to call and ask (I'm not all that good at asking for help, it turns out.). But he had the perfect, simplest, quickest solution to the indigestion (and honestly, the indigestion was killer--I probably would have made it through the other two if I could've gotten rid of that sooner). So here's the magic solution: two teaspoons of baking soda in a glass of water. Honestly. It worked like a charm. Way better than Zantac!! It doesn't taste so hot, and sure, in a matter of minutes I was burping like an entire beer hall filled with truckers, but that was music to my ears (Chris may disagree, but he probably preferred it to the groaning. I haven't asked). Gone, resolved, over, elephant off the chest within the hour!! After dinner it started up again, and I drank more baking soda water and nipped it in the bud almost immediately. Amazing. Who knew?? Well, dad did. Father knows best. Must remember this.

So Saturday was a day of recovery, once again. I slept. I read. Hey, I finished Dogs & Goddesses--and for a quick, fun, easy read, I highly recommend it. Funny, entertaining, no deep-thinking required, dogs don't die (they talk instead), kind of paperback fun. I tried not to scratch, and I took steroids 4 times throughout the day. Then I took an oatmeal bath to try to reduce those red welts on my body. That was really good in one way--it was soothing. And really bad in another--there's a mirror in the bathroom.

I stepped out of the tub and came face to face with Chemoenstein in the mirror. There she was: bald, grey bags under her eyes (no sleep), red welts all over her body (made much more vibrant by the warm water), red scratches streaked across various spots, a two inch scar across the right breast (another under the right arm, but I wasn't stupid enough to lift that arm and "enhance" the view; I just knew it was there), and a nice steroid bloat already started. Pretty. But I must have been feeling better, because I laughed. No other choice. It was appalling. What the hell else could happen?? I have hives on my hands--no, really, the palms of my hands!! The next time you think you are having a bad day, or a bad hair day, or you don't look good, or you are annoyed at the extra 5 lbs you've put on--I offer you that image. If you can still be down on yourself and not say "oh hell, at least I'm not Chemoenstein"-- you need professional help. Or just call me and I will come over and slap the silliness out of you.

The rest of the evening was spent with fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and milk, cuddling on the couch with Chris and Seamus (neither seemed to notice my monster like qualities) watching movies. And trying not to scratch.

(The cute little monster in the photo was a gift from NANCY MOURGUET--something to pound on bad chemo days. I think it's too cute to pound. And it's way, way cuter than I was last night. )


  1. Wow. Just wow. I knew there was something wrong when nothing appeared on Facebook. So very sorry. I used to get hives when I was younger when I ate walnuts. This will turn you from walnuts for a long time. Hives suck big time. I was feeling slightly sorry for myself yesterday. Went to UCLA, where they stuck a big needle into my hip joint again. Now, I feel like a whiny baby. Glad you're feeling better.

  2. My what fun you have had! But I really must thank you for really putting things into perspective. Happy to hear that things appear to be looking up.

  3. itchy palms, eh? if you were raised catholic, you know what that means....

  4. "Chemoenstein"...where do you still get this stuff from after all these crack me up!! Sorry to hear of your troubles...thanks for your honesty and keeping it so real.


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