Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fun with Drugs

This is a photo of all the medications I currently take. Interestingly, not a single one of these kill cancer. Or fight cancer. Or have any effect whatsoever on cancer. Every one of these medications (with the exception of a drug for high blood pressure that I was on previously) are used to combat the effects of chemotherapy.

I am not a pill-popper by nature. I have a ridiculously childish gag reflex that prevents me from swallowing more than one or two pills at a time. Seriously, I gag on everything. I gag on pills. I gag on liquid medicine. I gag when I brush my teeth. I gag when I bite into something that is not the consistency I expected. (Eggs are a big gag-inducer for me if they are not cooked exactly how I expect them to be. Hence, I avoid eggs for the most part.) I could never be one of those pill-popping suburban housewives of where-the-hell-ever.

In summary, Shannon Ralph is a big old egg-hating cry-baby sissy gagger. Duly noted.

So what exactly are all of these medications? And what do they do?
  1. Miralax - I think most people know what Miralax does. I was warned ahead of time that my chemo meds would cause constipation, but did I heed that warning? Noooo....of course not. That is, until I spent all day Sunday doubled over on the couch moaning in pain. Since that day, Miralax has become my first-thing-in-the-morning ritual (it's not that bad if you mix it with a tall glass of strawberry flavored milk) and my best friend. 
  2. One-a-Day Women's Multivitamin - This is to combat any lack of vitamins and minerals I am ingesting...or not ingesting, I suppose. I have never been one who takes vitamins regularly because, frankly, they are too damn big and I could never take one without gagging profusely. But then I discovered that they actually make gummy vitamins for namby-pambies over the age of 7 like me. Score!
  3. Tylenol PM - I had to start taking these as soon as I received my diagnosis because I absolutely stopped being able to fall asleep or stay asleep on my own. I know it is anxiety-related, but I am one cranky woman when I do not get enough sleep. My doctor said it was harmless to continue taking them, so I take them every single night. I just today had to purchase the gel-cap variety, however, because I was gagging every night on the simple caplets I had. I am such a pantywaist.
  4. TUMS - Oh, not even get me started on the heartburn! Never in my life have I had heartburn like the chemo variety of heartburn I have almost daily now. IN. SANE.
  5. Docusate sodium & Senna - Stimulant laxative plus stool softener. A party in a bottle. 
  6. Dexamethasone - A steroid that treats inflammation. I take this twice a day for 3 days following each chemo session. It causes trouble sleeping, increases appetite, and can interact dangerously with alcohol. Good times.
  7. Zofran - This is an anti-nausea drug. I take it three times a day for 3 days following each chemo session. Then I can take as needed after that.
  8. Compazine - This medication also treats nausea, but it has the added benefit of being an anti-psychotic, as well. It is used to treat schizophrenics, which seems somehow comically appropriate. I take as needed. You know, when the miniature purple elephants dance across my living room floor taunting me.
  9. Ativan - This is a sedative used to treat anxiety. Supposedly, as a sedative, it should help me sleep. It does not. 
  10. Neulasta - This is not a medication I take at home. I could, if I wanted to wear a on-body injector on the back of my arm that would give me an injection exactly 27 hours after applied. Sounds like my kind of hell. So I go into the clinic the day after chemotherapy to receive a Neulasta injection from a nurse instead of a box taped to my body. It is a bone marrow stimulant. It makes my bone marrow produce white blood cells at an accelerated rate to replace the white blood cells that were massacred the previous day by my chemo meds. It is kind of the Olivia Pope of cancer. Clean up the mess. Hide the evidence.
  11. Claritin - I find this medication incredibly interesting. It is not, as one would think, used to treat allergies. The Neulasta injections I receive twice a month can cause debilitating bone pain. I guess bone marrow doesn't appreciate being put on a super accelerated assembly line and often protests. I picture it kind of like this scene from I Love Lucy:                                                                                                                                                                                                       The bone marrow finds it hard to keep up and, as a result, can get quite overwhelmed and a little bit pissy, resulting in pain. Something in the antihistamine properties of the Claritin help with this bone pain. The nurse couldn't explain the science behind it to me, so I just had to take her at her word. I didn't have any bone pain this go-round, but I am prepared just in case.
  12. Thera-Tears Eye Drops - I just bought these today. This it to treat a side effect of chemo I was not warned about--apparently chemotherapy drugs can cause dry, sore, gritty eyes. I just noticed this within the last day or two. It started with my eyes watering constantly. Now they feel like I have been wearing contacts for a week or two too long. Dry and gritty. I was trying to read this morning and my eyes were watering so badly that I could not even see the page. Cancer can take many things, but it ain't getting my books! I hope the eye drops will help. 
  13. Biotene - This is a non-alcoholic moisturizing mouthwash. Chemo can cause both a dry mouth and painful sores in the mouth. I am not really a fan of open sores---particularly of the oral variety--so I am using Biotene prophylactically to try to avoid mouth sores. I have not had a problem with this yet, but I woke up this morning (for the first time since getting chemo) with a super dry cotton-mouth. Like I had slept all night with my tongue hanging out. I assume that was not the case (I am sure Ruanita would have let me know otherwise), and that this is another latent side-effect rearing its ugly head. 
So there you have it. All of my ain't-doing-a-single-thing-to-kill-cancer medications.

Please try to contain your jealousy.  


Madge Woods said...

You left yourself open to this comment. Good thing you are not with a man:)

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