There's nothing like a first-hand experience to intensify one's empathy for others.
For five days after my first Taxol treatment, I dealt with muscle and joint pain, mainly in my legs. The shooting pain in my left knee was particularly fun, the type of pain that literally took my breath away at times.
When talking to my manager the following Monday, she asked how I was feeling and I told her about the pain. She lives with arthritis, and told me how sorry she was that I was dealing with that level of pain. And she's the one who deals with pain all the time.
This week's chemo lesson
This morning, I had an allergic reaction to the Taxol. Normally, if someone's going to react to Taxol, they will on the first treatment. Not me though. I'm an outside-the-box kind of girl
George had just left to get us lunch when it started. The Benadryl they gave me before the Taxol was making me sleepy, and I wanted a quick nap before eating. See, that's how many people react, they give you Benadryl beforehand, just in case.
It started with a nauseous twinge. Then all hell broke loosed. I felt like someone was sitting on my chest. I don't even know what I told the nurse, but she turned around to look at me and said, "Your face is red." Not surprising, as I suddenly felt like my head had been set on fire. Then my head and chest felt like balloons that were blown up to the point of almost breaking.
The IV drip was stopped, another nurse and an oncologist were in the room in what seemed like seconds. At first I nodded and shook my head in response to their questions because talking took a lot of effort since I was short of breath, and back pain had started. When I did describe what I was feeling, I felt like I wasn't making sense.
At least it's temporary
I was given more Benadryl, then hydrocortisone. They restarted the Taxol drip slowly, and eventually turned it back up to where it should have been. I was fine for the rest of the treatment, but feeling pretty freaked out.
The thing is I'll have two more treatments which will hopefully be uneventful since they're going to adjust them to ensure I don't react again. Then it will be over for me.
Meanwhile, one of my best friends has a peanut allergy. And I have a number of friends with children who have bad allergies. A colleague has a tree-fruit and tree-nut allergy. All these people have EpiPens prescribed.
I can now say I understand the fear someone experiences when having an allergic reaction. When your body is out of control, it's fucking scary. And though I don't know what it's like to see my child have an allergic reaction, I now think I have a pretty good idea of what it's like.
Believe it or not, cancer has helped me be more grateful for my overall good health. And it's helped me gain a better understanding of what people with chronic health issues go through.