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  • Nathira Salim

Side Effects - C2

Welcome back to my cancer blog where I actively try to document my journey from discovery to recovery ( wow that rhymed!).


I am done with the 2nd chemo cycle a week ago - and am now recovering from the side effects of it. Side effects this time is fatigue. No more nausea - which I was able to curb it using the anti nausea pills as well as control of food. Let's discuss the fatigue.


Fatigue is defined as extreme tiredness in the online Cambridge dictionary. I think that would be the most suitable explanation - but then it actually doesn't make the 3rd party actually really get it.


Its not the type of tiredness you get after riding the MRT back home from one end of the island to another and then you plonk down on your bed. Its not the type of tiredness you get after running a long distance or doing a workout ( I get more energised than tired by it). Its the literal draining of your energy. You can feel the drain. It's amazing to know that everything you do requires energy and that you have not noticed it all along because you have been fit enough not to know the amount of energy required to do a single action. Let me explain.


Eating. Let's talk about it. Who would have thought that eating, the single process of eating require a mammoth amount of energy? I didn't and I found out during this cycle. When I eat, I chew, I swallow, that food goes all the way down and ends up in our digestive system. That requires energy. And it requires a lot of energy for the body to start the process of acidifying the contents in the tummy and all. I am not going to write and detail the process right now because you can find the actual process in google and I am not running a bio blog here. So - it takes energy for the body to do a lot of the back door stuffs that we don't see in everyday life. For me - after every meal - I have this huge wave of tiredness run over me. Really really huge. Once I'm done with the food, my whole body goes limp. And I will just close my eyes and sleep. Where ever I am.


And the back door process that happens when I'm limp, weak and tired is the recovery process. The repairing of the remaining good cells, the repair and recovery of the DNA and mitochondria and all. I have read that the body heals when its asleep. For me, I need to sleep immediately after the body has taken all its energy to work on its digestive process so that the body can start healing. I totally get it.


I am not the type of person who will lie down after food mind you. I will not sit for long and I get very disturbed if I'm still sitting after I'm done with my food. For me to go weak and tired after eating was just a new experience. What irritated me more was the fact that I was still getting tired seven days after the chemo. I was supposed to be ok by day 6. But no - I was still getting tired and I was still lying on the couch. I would eat, sleep and then be up for tea and then eat and sleep again. Even my helper was taken aback by this.


I am fine today - but just to ensure I am ok - I have decided not to venture out anywhere on my own. I give myself another day and then I will go out and have some vitamin D somehow.


During the resting phase - I sort of understand why some elderly people get irritated when we tell them to rest at home. No one likes to rest. Of cos, people will like to get some rest after doing some strenuous work around the house like cooking, cleaning, gardening or carpenting. But to actually do nothing but be on the bed and rest day in and out - its not actually a luxury - it feels more like a punishment. I think as humans - we are not meant to be bound by being in one place. We need to move about, feel the air, or feel the stretch, the movement of blood in our bodies. The need to move about is very human I assume. I get upset by being so tired. Even when I explain that I am fatigue, I have family telling me - why am I so tired when I am not that old. I have to remind my mother - I have toxic chemicals inside of me killing my innocent and cancerous cells - I should be tired.


So now I know I will be tired after a chemo. But how will it be during a weekly chemo? If I take more than 8 days to recover from one chemo - will I be too tired to get another chemo within 7 days? Did my oncologist take the fatigue factor into consideration? I think I will check this with him during my next visit.



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