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Friday, September 13, 2013

When Your Life Goes To $#!%, Realize $#!% Happens.

There has been one post I have been dreading, specifically this one. I mean, no, I'm not dating anyone. Would I like to be in the future, well duh. However, after this post, I may be eternally single. But in the interest of journalistic responsibility and integrity, I promised to keep this experience as honest and real as possible. Yes, one of the biggest dating tips is to "keep some mystery" however, when you're a cancer patient, there is no mystery, except how the hell to get rid of your illness with out your treatment killing you first.

So with that being said, and to clarify so that I feel better, everyone poops.

I was told when I started treatment that one of the side effects of the radiation was SEVERE diarrhea. When I say severe, I mean opening up freaking floodgates. Now, anyone who knows me by now, probably realizes I don't rationalize things like a normal human being. My first thought was,
"and this is terrible why?"
Remember that 90's craze to get colon cleanses known as "colonics", because removing the toxins would clear your skin (yea that was actually a thing and still is.) Well I'm getting it for free, with out the medi spa appointment price tag and someone digging in my @$$. Bring on flawless skin. Also, this is great for weight loss. Water weight aside, I really don't want to hold on to any extra calories since I've had to give up working out. On the bright side, I'm down 4 pounds, and not water pounds but real ones. AND YES I know I know its probably muscle, but don't kill my buzz. I digress.

I've been on pain killers for my back, and pain killers constipate. So that works in my favor. I've also been on antiemetics (anti nausea meds) which also constipate. So I was like this wont get that bad. Chemo dulls your taste buds, so I've been craving salsa, hot sauce, wing sauce, mustards, whatever I can taste, when in the off chance I do crave food. However those, tend to help your BM (bowel movements) flow a little on the easier side if you catch my drift. Why do you think Mexican is never a good idea on the third date? So that doesn't help me. I'm not one for math, but my little list of well this can help, but this wont, but this will, and things cancelling each other out has been consuming my brain. Legit, I'm more confused than a patriots fan watching their precious offense barely beat an unprepared rookie QB and the jets.

I hate taking pills. Not because I can't swallow them, but because if I could, I would approach this entire thing holistically. More meds means more side effects, and then more meds to counteract those side effects. Its just a big wheel of annoying. My mum being the goddess she is, got a very good family friend S who is a masseuse to come and work on my back. This woman has miracle hands. Everything about her calms me down. I first saw her two weeks ago. I didn't need my pain meds when she was done with me. In fact, I went six days with out needing them. She came back eight days later and the same thing, no more pain meds. I love that my back is not acting up and especially that I don't have to medicate it. It almost makes me feel like if I could muster up the energy, I could get to a yoga class... but baby steps here. However, the downside to this, I need the constipating effects of the pain meds. Of course, the one time the side effect of a medication actually works in my favor.

The radiation treatments have done nothing but really exhaust me thus far. I'm nauseous, but its most likely from the chemo. I get these weird pains in my lower abdomen, but... ok so the radiation sucks and I'm making excuses, another "Courtney Quality." These complications fall under "Radiation Cystitus". (In very basic terms: radiation cystitis:, inflammatory changes in the urinary bladder caused by ionizing radiation. - I couldn't even find a decent definition. Basically, it destroys my bladder and bowel's ability to work properly.) I guess this is what happens when you microwave a person.

My doctor keeps saying "It's too soon, it's too soon for radiation cystitus." But and I repeat with a big baby got back BUTT- I am not a textbook case. I'm sure everyone says this, however, I've been through cancer and cancer treatments three times. We have a trifecta of documented evidence that everything that can possibly go wrong, usually does with me. This is not pessimism, this is documented fact. So during the last week of complaining of something being wrong with my lady bits, someone finally took me seriously. I'm a girl, I've had a UTI, I've had a yeast infection, I've drank cranberry juice, blah blah blah, I know when somethings not right, even when its something on top of an already growing list of maladies. As I was describing that something was... off, Dr. D2 immediately brushed off the cystitus. It's probably just a UTI. Ok, fine, but its not. I know what a UTI feels like. This is not a UTI, yeast infection yes, UTI no. We did a urinalysis but it came back negative. They would have had to put a catheter in to get a for sure diagnosis, but that was not happening. So I left Dr. D2 with a prescription for a UTI med, for a UTI I was pretty sure I didn't have.

Just so we're not confused because all of this will eventually converge, my lady bits- I know are not cystitus...yet, but something is definitely wrong. However my tushy - yup. Don't tell me it's too soon, your textbook doesn't know me.

So why choose to open up about this now, because this week it has become a problem. On Wednesday, (which is chemo day), on the way to the hospital I was drinking a Gatorade. My blood pressure had been low the day before which is a sign of dehydration (which is very common with diarrhea {ugh I hate that word]), and on chemo days I have to get an IV, so I was trying to chug to pump up the veins. I stopped after a few sips and looked at my mom.
"I think I'm going to shit myself."
Mind you, we have a 45min- hour drive to the hospital everyday. Now as one who prides herself on doing kegals regularly, I normally don't have to worry about holding my pee. But this process, has just turned eliminations of any kind uncontrollable, so I was slightly worried about our making it on time. We did make it to the hospital and I was so relieved. I barely made it to the bathroom but got there. So thankful all of the stalls were empty and no one was in there. I have a phobia of number two in public places, something I'm going to have to get over and fast. Thankfully I was in a hospital, first thing in the morning, because there was no chance of squatting at this point, so most likely the toilets had been recently cleaned, at least that's what I'm telling myself. Ugh, I thought this is not going to be fun. The side effects of the radiation were starting, really starting and I was not liking the result.

While we were walking up to the elevators to go see Dr. D for our weekly check up, I looked at my mom with a half joking but dreaded
"Of all days, of all doctors appointment visits, I really hope Dr.D doesn't do a pelvic exam today."
I was feeling gross, my plumbing was not cooperating and I just did not want him in my lady bits. Once we were seated in the exam room, the nurse unleashed the poison that was toxic to my ears
"So Dr. D would like to do a pelvic on you today, so you know the drill."
I threw my head back with an "UGHHH I KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN!" I begged her, and him with a
"Dr.D I'm warning you, you may want to put this off until next week. Really, I'm doing this for your protection."
I finally caved, but that's just a testament to how good of a doc Dr.D is. A. he doesn't care if I poo on him and b. He really does make me feel comfortable. He's a thorough doc and doesn't let a little ick stop him from doing his job properly and well. He wasn't just going to assume it was a UTI, there was an issue and he was going to fix it. (Which he did thank goodness!) Lobster claw oven mitts and it was a go. His insistence on doing a pelvic was because of the UTI that Dr.D2 was convinced I had. Luckily, we discovered it wasn't a UTI, it wasn't cystitus of the bladder (that we're completely sure about, because that could be going on too, just not as severe) It WAS a yeast infection from the antibiotics I had been on to treat the UTI that I got from one of the surgeries earlier that month. Because if its not one thing, its another.

So where does this leave me now. I woke up this morning around 5am. I had gone to bed around 8:30-9 last night. I would rather be waking up super early than sleeping all day and being up all night. I had a small salad, because I like salads. No I'm not just eating them to try to be thin or whatever, I actually like them. (Not all the time I mean I could easily nosh on a burger, pizza and wings.)The past few weeks, I've been hating on food because when its in my tummy, I instantly get a tummy ache. So I've been avoiding food, because it really is causing more problems than helping. I'm eating, its just hard for me to do. Nothing seems appealing, so when something does, I pounce, like a kitten when it first sees its reflection in the mirror. Was this salad a wise idea, probably not, but I craved it, and it was delicious. The docs did tell me to avoid salads and fruits and basically anything healthy. Within an hour my stomach started to hurt again. Well isn't this just peachy.

When you go through any sort of illness, let alone three times you learn your body, and well. My stomach and G.I. tract does not agree with food right now. None of it. This past week has been the worst. It's almost like my body wants it out of me as fast as I put it in. When my stomach starts to knot and hurt it's a sign, that I should probably get near a bathroom.

So this morning, after my salad, which was delicious BTW, it was doomsday. (Quite honestly that makes it sound a lot more gross than it was.) The details are irrelevant, I'm sure you know what happens and if you don't can I please refer you to the image of the book I posted at the beginning of this post by Taro Gomi entitled "Everyone Poops." I did however, whimper, tears, enough so that it woke my mum up. How is this painful you ask? Because, this is not simply diarrhea, this is my intestines having been burned so badly from the radiation, that they scab on the inside. The scabs fall off and there is blood, there is burning, there are chunks of my intestines rotting inside me. This is what happens. This is the treatment to save my life. Hello my name is Courtney, and I'm afraid to go to the bathroom. This is the prime example of, if my cancer doesn't kill me, my treatment will.

So as I lay here, typing this, waiting for my lunch to rear its ugly head and trigger my tummy for what will inevitably be a repeat of this morning, I realize that this is just what I have to deal with. This seems minor, but its not and this is also just the beginning. Because as much as this seems like its as bad as it could get, according to my doc "It's still too soon." If this is what the early stages of treatment side effects look like then I am dreading the next few weeks. I'm halfway done according to schedule, but that isn't even set in stone. If I'm halfway and its this bad now, three weeks from now is looking pretty scary.

I texted my best friend K this morning and said
"I think the time has come to blog about poo. When your crying wakes up your mom bc it hurts so bad, just to have what feels like water pour out... I've been dreading this moment."
To which ... as the best of friends can do she replied
"Poo it is, Preach Girl!"

So I have new meds to try and stiffen things up. I like to think of it as Viagra for Poop. I have a new phobia of the bathroom and yet another reason why food is my enemy. I promised I'd be real and this is what cancer treatment looks like. Its not glamorous, and it hurts like hell. When I'm done with all of this, I'm sure I'll laugh my @$$ off... but for right now I wish I could saw my @$$ off. So as I do with this process, I'm taking it day by day.

I think this is a really good metaphor for life and this whole experience. Shit Happens.


  1. Courtney, you are absolutely an amazing individual. I am following your blog again. I started following you five years ago but of course stopped when things were better for you. Your writing is enlightening, informative and very creative. I think you have a future with it. I hope that it will help knowing that so many of us back in Peterborough are behind you every step of your journey, giving you a push when you need it. C.King

  2. Normally I don't learn post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to try and do so!
    Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, quite great post.

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