While Taxol doens’t lay me out in the same way that AC chemo did, it still has its “fun” side effects. Thought I’d let you in on what’s been happening the past couple of weeks.
AC chemo wore me out for 4 days after getting a treatment. Part of that was the steroids and anti-nausea meds that I had to take for those days after an infusion. Taxol isn’t quite that bad in that regard. In fact, I’m not taking any steroids with it, and I get only the one Zofran the day of the infusion. I heard over and over how much more I’d like Taxol. For the record, I don’t *like* either of them. I’ve decided that neither is really better than the other. They’re just different.
Acid Reflux has been a problem for me since I was a teenager. It used to only bother me when I ate oranges. Now it’s pretty much anything acidic and most alcohol. Some of it is what I’m eating, some of it is when I’m eating, and some of it is just chemo. I was managing it with Pepcid and Tums before I started chemo. Once I started chemo, I had to go back to taking Nexium, which kept it pretty well controlled until Taxol. I spent a couple of nights this week sleeping sitting up, which means I didn’t sleep worth a toot, and that was after taking a couple of Pepcids and eating a bunch of Tums. As much as I hate the idea, I think I need to go on an elimination diet to figure out what all I’m sensitive to and what’s causing the reflux.
I was told to be aware of neuropathy with Taxol. I had muscle, bone, joint and nerve pain right away on Day 2 of the first infusion. Since then, I’ve mostly had it under control by taking supplements. When it decides to break through, I feel like I have a giant blister on the bottom of my foot, and there are also little stabby pains in my legs and feet. Every now and again, I’ll get them in my hands. I never know when they’ll come back. Sucks to be me some days.
One of the supplements used to manage neuropathy is L-Glutamine. It can be bought at pretty much any nutrition store like GNC. Bodybuilders use it because it helps metabolize proteins after a workout. In cancer therapy, it is found to reduce side effects of chemo and radiation, including neuropathy. L-Glutamine is generally unflavored. It has something of an aftertaste that, for me, doesn’t go well with most juices. Since I started it, I’ve been mixing 20g of the powder in tapioca-free bubble tea1 or almond milk alone. This week, I tried a couple of different things. First, I bought some new 20 oz Tupperware shakers (I love these!!)2 malted milk and Hershey’s chocolate syrup. The malted milk covers the aftertaste nicely. I also added it to some Chobani Blended Greek Yogurt. I mixed lemon and coconut together and put some granola on top, and I didn’t notice the glutamine at all. I’m sure it works with pretty much any Greek yogurt flavor. I specified Greek because the others all contain aspartame, and I think they would bring that aftertaste out more. Instead, I think the sourness of the naturally sweetened yogurts, which all happen to be Greek yogurts, automatically counteract the taste of the glutamine.
Managing the poo has been fun with both. AC chemo was constipating. Taxol gives you the runs. I went from drinking Gatorade with Miralax mixed in to taking an Immodium pill every couple of days and making sure I’m carrying Cottonelle wipes in my purse. Yes, know this isn’t exactly the appropriate use of the word “fun.” Yes, I also know that poo and fun really don’t go together in a sentence. Poo beats barf any day, so deal with it.
The hair loss has been an ongoing thing, and I’m more or less accustomed to it now. I have my wig and a bunch of really nice beanies and stocking caps that I wear when my head gets cold. I sleep mostly in skullcaps that I originally bought to wear under my bike helmet. It is what it is and maybe I’ll start growing hair back again about this time next year.
Along with the hair loss, Taxol also kills off the oil production in the skin. The result is really dry skin pretty much everywhere, including, of all places, my feet. I’ve also got a mild case of rosacea on my face and similar little acne pimples in places I’ve never gotten them before like the soft skin on the inside of my arms and on my stomach. There were so many of them the last 2 weeks that I looked like I had chicken pox. I now have a bottle of Clindamycin lotion to put on them and they are more or less going away. Those little suckers hurt, I tell ya. Now I guess I need to go figure out how to eat a more alkaline diet. Bye bye tomato sauce!
As you probably remember, I had a really hard time with a salty taste on the AC chemo. Luckily, Taxol doesn’t carry that same level of taste interference. There’s still a wonky taste there, but it isn’t horribly noticeable much less salty. Where it does come into play is with sweets, which is still a good thing. Cancer likes pure unadulterated sugar. I still don’t like cancer, so we’re even. AC chemo made sweet stuff taste pretty awful. Taxol still pretty much does that. My tea tastes a whole lot better now, though. I’m keeping the caffeinated stuff down to one 20 oz (venti) cup per day, and drinking more green tea in the afternoon and evening.
I’m still kind of mad that Lipton stopped making its Quietly Chamomile tea, and Tazo stopped producing its Japanese Sakura and Chinese Orchard teas. Luckily, I spent a good hour at a Teavana store trying to find teas to blend together to get similar flavors to both of these teas. That, and I’ve stockpiled both when I realized that neither was being made anymore. Now Teavana is no more (reeled back in by Starbucks) so now I have to start over with the other couple of loose leaf tea stores still in business near me.
If you’re interested in what was in the other teas I noted above, I posted the ingredients below.
Lipton Quietly Chamomile Herbal Tea contains the following ingredients : Chamomile flowers, orange peel, rosehips, hibiscus flowers, allspice, licorice root, natural lemon, orange and bergamot flavors.
Tazo Japanese Sakura contains green tea, rose petals, rose hips, blackberry leaves.
Tazo Chinese Orchard contains a blend of black teas, linden flowers, licorice root, blackberry leaves, cinnamon, star anise.
1 I’ve been getting my milk bubble teas at one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants. I normally order my bubble tea with tapioca, but because I was mixing 20g of powder into it, I figured it wouldn’t mix well, so when I’ve gotten bubble teas, I’ve been ordering them without. I also thought about buying the flavor powders and decided that was just added sugar and I didn’t need that, so I added it to plain almond milk.
2 I’ve had a 16 oz Tupperware shaker for many, many years. My mom still has her now vintage sunny yellow one. We use it mostly to make gravy. The older ones are 16 oz, which works, but 20 oz for mixing the glutamine is better – it dilutes the flavor more. One of mine is missing its lid, and the other the little insert that helps break up the lumps when you’re mixing dry and wet ingredients like flour or corn starch with water or milk. I went to the Tupperware site looking for a new shaker so I could toss one of the old ones I have. I was disappointed to find they’re carrying only a 12 oz mini shaker, so I went to eBay instead. They have all kinds and sizes. I bought a pair of 20 oz shakers – mostly because I want to be able to take one to work and have a clean one at home.