Well, just one, really. Since my whole treatment (R-CHOP, for any of you needing a re-cap) started and the chronic nausea kicked in, I've been thinking this is a lot like my first trimester of pregnancy. The first big ticket similarity is obviously the nausea. I know some of you moms out there were lucky enough to get through without it, but I was not a member of that elite club. Morning sickness? Try all-day, green-in-the-face-when-you-get-to-work, eat-secret-stomach-filling-snacks-so-your-third-graders-don't-catch-you-munching-during-class, easier-than-joining-weight-watchers sickness. No fun. This is much the same. The food commercials are absolutely disgusting (why so many with cheese sauce??), and I am sorry, but watching other people eat (specifically the adult males who frequently eat meals in my house) is also nauseating. Especially when they grunt and bite simultaneously. Ew.
Then there's fatigue. During pregnancy, I used to pass out on the couch every afternoon around 4, wake up a few hours later and try to stomach something, then go back to sleep until my husband dragged me upstairs against my will around 10 and my alarm went off the next morning at 6. Chemo fatigue is slightly different in that many mornings I can't imagine myself getting out of bed to get dressed, let alone go to work. It still boggles my mind that there are people going through this who work during treatment. Like, for a job. How is that possible? Aside from the high risk of infection (kids are germ-fests), I only drove a car yesterday for the first time in months! How would I even get to work if I could lift my head off the pillow? Couple that with lesson plans, field trips, report card conferences, and oh yeah, 34 kids to manage every day (not to mention teach...) and I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
Next on the list is heightened sense of smell. Apparently the rest of the people in the house are not able to catch the same aromas (read: stenches) as I. I can smell food (of course), smoke (do not get me started on people who are still voluntarily and KNOWINGLY inviting cancer into their bodies), grass through the air conditioner, and much to my dismay, myself, to a much more revolting degree than they. When I was pregnant with Judah I had to retreat to the bedroom with open windows and ceiling fan on high, as well as my face under the sheets to try to escape the smell of whatever was cooking in the kitchen. The good news about my sense of smell is that I do find comfort in the smells of lemon and peppermint essential oils. If I could only find a way to permanently adhere the little glass bottles to the insides of my nasal cavities, life would be most excellent.
Then there are the cravings. Since most of the people reading this already love me, I am going to be truthful here. Yes, I like Taco Bell. During my first trimester, I used to stop at the Taco Bell on Roosevelt Boulevard on my way home almost every day. Dan would find smelly taco wrappers in the car and know my dirty deed, only too late. I am still aghast at myself that I crave the soft tacos yet again! EWWW! Who knows what's in that meat? And who touched it? And what did they touch before it? I gross myself out for wanting it. But there it is. Out in the open for all to read. Yesterday, thank goodness, it was something a bit more trustworthy: Primo's chicken parm sandwich. Half for lunch and the rest (almost) for dinner. It's funny how something that tastes so good at 1 o'clock, doesn't neccesarily do it for me at 6. For the rest of my diet, during the low points, it must include pickles (ahem, claussen kosher spears only, please), soft pretzels, macaroni (no cheese), eggs (prepared over medium and by my mother) and potato chips. Sounds like a perfectly healthy cancer diet, right?
My question to Kris Carr (and all other crazy sexy cancer survivors) is how can I possibly drink kale juice when I'm so nauseous I can't drink water? It's difficult to feel healthy when you are seriously limited to what you can physically keep down. I admit, I even ate a bag of nacho cheese doritos during my last chemo treatment while having a consultation with the nutritionist (and I gave up dairy in February! HA!). No, I would not nominate myself as the poster child for healthy cancer diet at the moment. Just trying to get to the other side of this treatment without being completely malnourished. Because the biggest difference between pregnancy and chemo side effects is that at the end of R-CHOP, there's no baby. The reward is that I'm still here.