Recovery #4 and some learnings

Note: This post may only be interesting to people going through chemo, and not so much my friends and family. There is way too much talk about managing bowels in this post to be interesting to anyone else. Because half the purpose of this blog is to help other patients, it’s important that I talk about this stuff. You’ve been warned! ? 

It’s now six days after my last treatment and I’m feeling well again. This recovery was MUCH better than round three. That round was a terrible experience because I hit bottom and stayed there for three days. I have been trying hard not to project the implications of these changes. However, I’ve been told by by medical professionals and those who have gone through the ABVD regimen, that effects of the treatment are cumulative and get tougher with each one. Round three not only sucked, but I was disappointed when I thought about what that could mean for future treatments. Thankfully, by making some changes, I learned that I could significantly improve the experience.

One of the main things I have noticed throughout the recovery of each treatment is that the feeling in my gut is closely tied to my overall sense of wellness. At my worst point in round three, I felt like there was a brick in my gut. Nothing was moving. The alien in was alive and well inside my gut, and he was also frying my brain at the same time. I just felt gross and could not think straight. Despite taking laxatives and stool softeners, my gut was stuck. Days later, when things started moving again, I immediately began feeling better.

As I thought about this connection between my gut and my sense of wellness, I figured I should set myself up to be as regular as possible heading into the next treatment. I wanted to make my gut the least hospitable place for the alien!

Even though there are multiple variables involved in this, I attribute the improvement to:

  1. Improved hydration – I drank more water in the days leading up to the treatment and continued this after the treatment.
  2. Eating better and less food – I have moved to a mostly plant-based diet in general. I ate overnight oats for breakfast each morning. I ate until I was satisfied but not stuffed (I guess that’s the way normal people eat? ? )
  3. Stopping the anti-nausea medication sooner. Since Zofran causes constipation, I stopped taking it mid-day Saturday (day 3) since it didn’t seem to help to take it longer.

This made a huge improvement. My gut still felt uncomfortable for a few days, but I stayed somewhat regular. As a result of these changes, this has been one of the best recoveries I’ve had yet. From the chart below, you can see the alien is leaving much sooner after treatment four as compared to treatment three. (Note from my last post that Treatment 4 Day 0 was low because of anticipatory nausea.)

And my energy level is coming back much faster too:

For my scoring on these charts, I consider myself to feel “well” when I have at least an 8 on both charts. My goal is to maximize the number of days I feel well through treatment 12, and I believe these changes will definitely help.

Next, I need to focus on mitigating anticipatory nausea. I’ll let you know if I learn anything about this in a future post.