Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Side effects

I have been dealing with some very interesting side effects from the chemo recently.

I've had a few nights where I've awakened with serious chills and needed another blanket to warm up.  I usually end up taking some Tylenol when this happens, just in case a fever is in the offing.  If I develop a fever, I have to go to the emergency room, and I'm hoping to avoid that.

I've also been waking up at night very confused, with some odd mental issues going on.  It's like I get caught in a dream, but waking up doesn't end the dream.  The dream continues while I'm awake, and honestly, it plays havoc with my brain.

Last night, I woke  up about 2:30 a.m.  I was cold.  My wife generously got me another blanket.  I was also somewhat congested, and my mouth breathing had created a seriously dry mouth.  But, for some reason, I was dreaming that the way I drank the water I keep on my nightstand was affecting my breathing.  It's kind of fuzzy now, but it had to do with how I picked up the water bottle and held onto the bottle.  If I approached it from one direction, I was convinced it would affect my breathing adversely.  In reality, no matter what I did, I was stuffed up, so there was simply nothing to what I was thinking.

I do have a bit of a phobia about  being congested and being able to breathe correctly.  The thing that normally helps is a bit of an anti-anxiety drug.  That drug also helps me to get back to sleep, so I took it last night.  And then, for an hour, I tossed and turned, convinced that I was going to suffocate somehow.  It was completely irrational, but also beyond my ability to control.

Finally, I headed to the couch so I would bother my wife less.  I turned on the TV.  And, I then fell asleep pretty quickly.  So, I ended up with less sleep than I might have liked, but I survived the whole incident.

These types of things seem to be happening more and more as the chemo continues.  I think it's just a cumulative effect from the chemo and I just need to ride it out.  But, it's disconcerting at times.  And the fear that I feel in these situations is very real.  It makes me wonder how I'll handle an event where my breathing really is compromised to some extent.

Last night reminded me of an incident in the hospital about 18 months ago.  I'd just had my first liposarcoma surgery and I was an inpatient for 5 days or so.  It was college football season and I was watching Penn State play Rutgers.  I was also on some heavy duty pain meds.  Early in the game, I started to become "aware" that the game wasn't as it seemed.  Gradually, it dawned on me that the game had 2 scores.  There was the score on the scoreboard, which everyone could see.  And, there was a second "secret" score.  To win the game, I became convinced that you had to win on both scoreboards.  So, I watched the game, looking for signs that Penn State was winning on the second, invisible scoreboard.

Penn State did get credit for the win, so I suppose they won that second scoreboard as well.  Even today, through that morphine haze, I clearly remember my confusion.  My wife still doesn't understand when I try to explain it to her.  And the next morning, when I woke up, I realized fully that it had been absurd.

But, it remains disconcerting.  In a period of time where I'm using some anti-anxiety medicine, medical cannabis, and some pain medication, I suppose these kinds of things will happen.  But, I wish the chemo would play games only with my body and not my brain as well.

My "normal" just doesn't feel so normal any more these days.

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