Chemo #1

First chemo treatment yesterday. And it went well, thanks.

The port worked well, though I was a little daunted when Rommel (yes, my chemo doctor is named after a famous Nazi – he is such a nice man – my chemo doctor, that is, not the other guy!) walked up with a blue plastic disc in his hand with what looked, to me, like a six inch needle sticking out the bottom.

The port itself is a little plastic disc, fitted just under the skin, with a vein running through it. And the needle is not really six inches long. It is, of course, designed to fit exactly into the port, piercing the top of the vein and not reaching the bottom.

“Take a deep breath” said Rommel (which he pronounces Ro-mel, accent on second syllable – well, you would, wouldn’t you!).

So I did.

And it went in perfectly, no pain (that could have something to do with the local I get to apply myself an hour before treatment, of course). And all flowed well.

The skill of Rommel becomes apparent when administering the drugs.

First is a saline flush. Then anti-vomit meds via the saline solution.

Then it is hand-injecting a large amount of one drug (because I am a large lady) into the line, rather than the bag. And this has to be done at a slow, steady rate to avoid damaging the vein and causing leaking and damage of surrounding flesh. And it was handled wonderfully. Twice. Because I am a Large Lady and needed Two large syringes.

Then another flush.

Then another drug.

I could give you all the drug names, as I have a very nifty little Chemotherapy Record Book to carry around with me, along with a card showing I have a port in my chest, but I am too tired.

Next thing – how I cope with hair loss! I did consider shaving it all off BEFORE it falls out, but think maybe just a super-short cut instead, so it looks less messy while falling out. Thoughts, anyone?


About bookmole
I am pro-choice. You make yours, I'll make mine, okay?

14 Responses to Chemo #1

  1. Drude says:

    Hi Bookmole, I’ve been there, done that… It wasn’t the funnest part of my life and I had some rare complications, but it’s almost 6 years ago now and all is well, so if you have questions just let me know (Got here through Leeeenda).

    When my hair fell out, I looked like Gollum for a bit… it really, was prettier shaved, but it takes a bit before it starts falling out – I almost started thinking it wouldn’t happen to me (ha!).. I think it may have been 10 days or more from first chemo before it started… your scalp aches a little when it starts falling out – so you get a bit of warning in advance.
    I cut it short (1 inch or so) before chemo and then I shaved the stragglers off when it got ugly. I lost most of the hair over one or two days, so the decision to shave sort of gave itself (body hairs and eyebrows came out on separate days – first round of chemo was full of surprises – every day my body was a bit different again.) – Keep a diary, so you’ll be prepared during next round…
    (most?) things vary from person to person so you can’t necessarily use other people’s experiences for a whole lot.

    Hair wasn’t a big deal for me. Tiredness was. Make sure you have food and drinks nearby that don’t require any effort preparing… and your taste may change from one day to the next, so ‘junk-food’ full of calories and protein with as little added taste as possible may be your preference some of the time… I didn’t want to eat most of the time, so I prepared small portions in advance, that I could easily force into myself if I was nauseous and lots of liquid (they gave me the protein shake stuff ‘sustacal’ to make sure I got enough of everything. That stuff MAY not really be as vile as I remember it, but eating was a bit of a challenge especially the first week or so each round).

    Time to buy pretty hats and head scarves!
    Oh, and when your hair grows back out again afterward, it looks fantastic!
    Maybe it changes color or texture for a while. Mine got curly – it looked healthier than ever before.

    • bookmole says:


      Daughter is knitting me a pretty hat – it is autumnal weather now and only going to get colder. I shall have to go on a headscarf / pretty head covering hunt. I think I will get the shorter haircut (maybe an inch – I have someone to do it for me for free) before the shopping, so I can see better how it will look. Not looking forward to no eyebrows, though!

      Have been warned about the strange taste changes though my chemo leaflet said avoid junk food and takeaways. Also I was told if the weirdness gets really bad to avoid favourite foods, so no bad association is formed. That makes sense to me.

      The fun part about this (and there has to be something!) is refusing to cook till chemo is over. I have slaves children to do that!

  2. lauowolf says:

    Yay for slave children!

    And that is a brilliant thought to avoid favorite foods.
    (I lost apple juice that way years ago.)
    I’ve had nausea issues.
    Hey, I even had me some of those fancy shamancy chemo anti-nausea meds during my kidney stuff this summer.
    What I’ve discovered is that there’s a fair amount you can do strategically.
    I got to where I was thinking of my appetite as a cranky old lady I had to sneak stuff past.
    And you can get better at it.

    Basically, fine, whatever they say about avoiding junk food and take out.
    Yeah sure, but if it ends up that’s something you can eat it, don’t worry about it.
    It may be that basic healthy snack isn’t anything you can force down.
    Take it a day at a time, and keep things small and frequent, because hungry is bad.
    It may be that there are times of day you are better able to cope.
    It may be that frozen mac and cheese is magic; it may be soup, or ice cream, or rice with soy sauce.
    You may need bland, or it may be that strong flavors actually help.
    Try a range of things.

    And no cooking.
    First cos you are going to be tired.
    And second because cooking is icky.
    Baby yourself all you can, you just have to get over this patch.

    • Drude says:

      what Lauo says!… and I like the cranky old lady metaphor.

      I was actually recommended junk food… they said the main priority was proteins and getting anything inside.. worry about the well balanced antioxidant super healthy diet AFTER chemo…. or at least after nausea stops being a major issue. Of course your body needs everything because it’s doing major rebuilding most of the time, so the more minerals, vitamins, protein etc in your food, the better, but eating SOMEthing has to be the first priority.
      The new nausea meds are pretty good. I never vomited once, but I had a hard time eating still.

      I normally hate fizzy water, but ice cold fizzy water turned out to be the easiest to drink.
      – and ginger.. of all things… calms nausea… so in spite of being fairly strong flavor, it’s actually a good one.

      Get the slaves/children to think of bite-sized protein rich snacky yummies that you can microwave or have sitting out on the table for a good while without turning too icky.

  3. Redscylla says:

    BOOOOOOK! I’m coming to give you positive swirlies for a swift, effective, and mostly painless treatment. I have no advice to offer, so I’m glad lots of other folks know how it’s going to be and the best way to take care of yourself. (Even though it makes me sad that so many folks have been through this.)

    According to my grandmother, who gave birth to 6 children under pretty primitive conditions, had a hip replacement, shoulder surgery, a mastectomy, and a deep vein thrombosis, passing a kidney stone was THE most painful thing she’d ever experienced. So apparently, you’ve already survived the worst thing. :o)

    And tell the Bookmole Family that they must all serve you. Your Vox peeps demand it!!!

  4. Redscylla says:

    Also meant to say that if you have to have a doctor who shares a name with a Nazi, better to have a Dr. Rommel than a Dr. Mengele.

    • bookmole says:

      OMFG Yes! I never even thought of that – though, seriously, if you were called Mengele (and there must be some) and you wanted to be a doctor, wouldn’t you change your name?

      And thanks to everyone for positive thoughts and well wishing – greatly appreciated.

  5. leendadll says:

    Not everyone looses their hair so I say you wait it out. If you staring having chunks come out, go for something crazy.. maybe a hiphop type close crop with a message or design shaved in?!

    • bookmole says:

      Nah. I like my hair short – I used to have a grade 2 buzzcut, so an inch seems long to me! My chemo doctor assures me everyone loses their hair on my treatment, so I shall defer to his better knowledge in this area (and not just cos he is called Rommel!).

      However, if YOU are right and HE is wrong, I shall have Leenda 4 Evah shaved into my hair! And, I promise, PHOTOS!

    • Drude says:

      Heh… I actually got a henna ‘tattoo’ on my nekkid scalp just when I shaved it… Had an artyfarty friend of mine paint the henna on… I wanted to sorta celebrate the baldness instead of just being miserable over loosing hairs… (I always kinda secretly wanted to shave my hair off and didn’t dare, so there was my chance – finally)
      The tattoo didn’t get very dark, and it faded super fast, so since I was home feeling miserable most of the time it was visible, hardly anybody got to see it. :-/
      but I still have photos! …. somewhere…

      • bookmole says:

        Another great idea! And I still have to go to work, for Husband’s company so I really do have to, so I can show it off. And there are loads of places round here to get something done,

        Mmmm. Thinking on that one….

      • geologywoman says:

        Drude! A side to you I never knew. I love it.

  6. geologywoman says:

    I say shave it. I cut my dreads off some months ago and at first was shocked by the elfin critter in the mirror, but got used to it. However, I had been suffering from alopecia from undiagnosed gluten intolerance for over a year and when I buzzed my hair there were bald spots. I now wear knitted hats, berets and hippie/moto chick scarves daily and love them and have acquired a large amount of fashionable headgear. If you need some cute knitted beanies, a lady where I work makes some very funky colourful ones for me that I buy for £4 and the money goes to a charity. It works for me with my style because I dress geek chic/surfer girl/charity shop fashion – when leaving the house for the day. (when not at work I live in pyjama bottoms and t shirts)
    What I have briefly read from your blog so far you seem clever, witty and tough. I would shave it and wear funky hats, we are in the right country for being able to for certain.
    I knew a woman who lost her hair to chemo and it came back in very thick and curly (it was fine and straight). I also know it can send you into premature menopause and I being old enough to be in the menopause I have now entered since the summer, take a supplement for it which Drude turned me onto, which is very effective, flaxseed oil. It is full of plant estrogens. (apparently prescrip hormone replacement for menopause is animal extracted, which I will not use)
    Lastly, the best and wellest of wishes in this.

  7. Kzinti says:

    Holy hell. I look forward to the day when you go in for a shot to cure cancer in one dose, suffer through a really bad flu-like reaction for a day or three and then done. Not coming soon enough.

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