I had chemotherapy about 10 days ago and returned to work later that day to ensure that I was on top of things before a weekend of recovery.
My body really doesn’t handle chemo well, and I spent the entire weekend curled up in bed or in front of the television with my husband taking care of me as best he could. My body and mind were absolutely exhausted, and I battled horrid side effects including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, exhaustion, and mental fatigue.
I don’t know if the previous trauma of chemotherapy is what gets to me (including post-traumatic stress disorder), or if my body just isn’t as strong as it was before. Either way, I know that I hate it and truly dread my monthly admissions — even though the benefits for the next month are amazing and my body feels brand new.
One downside to receiving chemo is immune suppression. I catch any bug that is floating around. My husband doesn’t get sick very often, and when he does, he sleeps in our spare room to prevent passing anything on. He even sits in another part of the house during meals. We have hand sanitizer everywhere in our house, and I carry two bottles in my handbag.
Catching any type of flu virus can be deadly for those of us who are immunocompromised. My body can’t fight off a cold or the flu like a healthy person’s can. It goes into overdrive, and oftentimes a blood test won’t even show a rise in my white blood cell count because my body is so busy fighting itself.
That’s why it took so long to receive a proper diagnosis when I had Pneumocystis pneumonia. My body didn’t show signs of infection through testing, and we only discovered the reason I was getting sicker through an open lung biopsy.
I also have an upper respiratory tract infection and am currently sporting an unsexy, hoarse voice, blocked ears, and painful sinuses. Most “normal” people would be able to simply shrug this off in a couple of days, but I have spent all day at the hospital having multiple tests to ensure it is nothing more serious.
I came home with three effervescent tablets, cortisone, antihistamine, nasal spray, pain killers, and an antibiotic. I took three days off work, not so much for the benefit of the people I work with, but rather to ensure that I don’t pick up anything else. My body wouldn’t be able to cope with extra stress, so I am lucky that my bosses are conscientious and understanding.
Please be aware of us spoonies when you are sick. We take longer to heal and our bodies get hit a lot harder by the common cold.
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