You know, everybody knows the most common troublesome side effects of cancer treatment: the skin burns from radiation, the nausea from chemo, perhaps rapid weight loss (which is a good and bad thing), and sometimes-soul-crushing fatigue. BUT there is more to the side effects than that, and some of mine were positive!
Of course there’s the obvious benefit: I was being treated for cancer, and hopefully successfully treated, but I was pleasantly surprised by some of the other upticks in my treatments.
For starters, I found that I didn’t need any blood pressure meds while I was under treatment. The in-home nurse visits included a blood pressure check every time they were at the house and my BP was good every time. Maybe it was the fact that I was away from work and away from a particularly difficult person, or maybe it was just that I was too tired to care about anything, and it could have been from the weight loss, but I dropped from three different meds to none. I’m back up to one now, but maybe that’s because I’m back at work.
I also had a very poor sense of smell. Well, poor in that I couldn’t really detect pleasant odours unless they were strong but I had no trouble sniffing out whiffs of awful stenches such as burning toast or skunks. After several treatments I found that I was starting to enjoy the floral scents in the air in spring when everything was starting to bloom. It actually became overwhelming at times because I wasn’t used to it. Sadly, now my olfactory sense is almost back to where it was in the beginning.
My varicose veins disappeared. They weren’t particularly bad in the first place, but it was a surprise when they completely disappeared. I think it was due to the fact that I was always lying down at every opportunity. They too have returned somewhat, but nowhere near what it had been.
I got used to having blood taken. It was embarrassing to always have to lie down for blood samples because I’d get so light headed afterwards. I’ve never been afraid of needles (I’ve been stabbed so many times with allergy shots that it’s nothing to me) but after having blood drawn I’d nearly faint. My sibs know that this is a fact, and they used to tease me about it but they can’t now! I can proudly sit in the lab chair and get my blood taken with the rest of the big girls! This is one benefit from the treatments that remains to this day. I don’t like it, but I can do it! I just can’t watch it.
I discovered that I’m a lot tougher than I thought I would ever be. Being awake while having the PICC line put in and not passing out. Being awake while having the feeding tube put in, and actually feeling it being done, and not crying like a baby. Not having any anaesthisia when it was eventually taken out (I’ll tell you why I opted not to in a future story). Not whining like a wimp when Seaghan enjoyed good food and I was stuck with a smelly feeding tube concoction. Ok, maybe I did, but just a little.
And the best side effect was the realization that I have family and friends who love me and support me, and when the going got tough they were there with me. <3
Next post: Cheers to the volunteers!