COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE, HEALING HABITS: Week 3

Complementary medicine and other healing habits I get to try…

complimentary-medicine

The healing power of food

It’s been about three weeks since beginning chemo treatments for this liver metastases I’ve got, and nearly two months since diagnosis. The first two treatments were NOT SEXY. I did not tolerate them so well. Even with making extreme efforts to help each treatment go better, I have not seen any improvements.

It’s the nausea I’m most concerned with. The first two days of a treatment are fine, then when the chemo pump comes off is when the nausea sets in. Then I don’t want to eat or drink, which causes the side effects to be even worse. To start, I began with two prescription anti-nausea meds, plus one that was infused along with the chemo. Then I was prescribed another, I bought two herbal anti-nausea tinctures, fresh ginger, ginger tea and candied ginger. Plus I had the medicinal marijuana oil and vaporizer pen. If any of those don’t work, than the others will, right? None of it seems to work on those nausea days, so then I must wait to be productive until the chemo has settled out of my system.

Starting out, I found it extraordinarily difficult to keep a medication list because it was continually going out of date faster than I could print them out, yet it has been helpful. New symptoms, new supplements, new medications, more symptoms, medications to counteract the symptoms, etc, get it? I surrender! You know when you go to a new doctor office, you fill out patient intake paperwork, which includes a medical history, a list of current medications, etc. My medication list was just too long, so I’ve typed and printed a list of my prescription meds, supplements, how and when I take them, what dose, strength and duration. Now this handy list I print and give to the doctor will help determine which medications will conflict with which.

Also, I was getting stuffed full of pills each day, and how am I to know the ones need, which ones are working? My complimentary care oncologist went over the whole list and marked the ones I could leave out of the regimen for now, and ones that will be most helpful. That took the quantity of supplements down to a far more manageable half quantity, thank goodness.

Other side effects have included extreme fatigue, body aches (flu-like), neuropathy affecting finger tips, lips, teeth, constipation, diarrhea.

Holistic treatments to augment chemotherapy:

support_iv_cancerSupport IV therapy – infusion at Dr. Panutich’s office (my complementary care oncologist), and this contains amino acids, minerals, vitamins. It will do two things: agitate the cancer cells so the chemo acts more effectively, and nourish the healthy cells by protecting digestive lining (which tends to get burnt out from the chemo), muscle strength and soreness, dehydration, immune support.

acupuncture_needles_sticking Out from Feet

Acupuncture & Community Acupuncture

Acupuncture – two sessions per week; one with my naturopathic doctor, Dr. Shaver, and one at a community acupuncture session (Group acupuncture? Really?). After the first treatment, I did not notice a difference. After the second and third, however, I felt very relaxed, pain-free, and I do believe that with the chemo side effects, the acupuncture will work – we’ll see!

Medical Cannabis Oil

Medical Cannabis Oil

Medical Cannabis oil – a really, really potent concentrate of the leaf. Just a dabble of this makes my head spin, and I take it at night when I’m going to sleep.

vaporizer-pen

Vaporizer Pen – Medical Cannabis

The Pen – this is like an e-cigarette, except it is filled with marijuana oil, no nicotine. This should provide relief for nausea almost instantly. Again, we’ll see!

Continued exercise – strengthening, stretching, cardio, meditation. All are keeping my spirits and strength up and allowing me to feel accomplished.

Healing Habits:

I’ve been asked whether I follow any special diet, if I’m taking anything special for treatments, and yes, I am. Mostly, I am pretty moderate, but I do avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, grains and dairy. I drink some when at a celebration, I can’t get by without some sugar, because it makes me happy. Grains, pasta, etc, I substitute yams. Matt and I harvest from the garden for most of our food. It’s sort-of a non-strict Paleo diet, the goal is to eat nutrient dense foods. Of course everyone has their food fetishes, their “needs”, but this is a good overall lifestyle. Along with the healing food, getting some creative time, some writing, visiting with friends and family, wearing comfy clothes, “getting out”, taking naps, and…

…just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down!

spoonful_of_sugar

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HA HA! P.E.T. & ULTRASOUND

Testing Day!

Today I am radioactive! Perfect way to spend the Leap Year. I went for a PET scan, where I spend 30 minutes in a tube. I fell asleep while in there. Guess I was not too stressed about this, but it goes to show, it can be a very relaxing experience, as at a spa.

Also got an ultrasound and I had to FORCE myself to not laugh, because it tickles! I could NOT get the tech to join my ha ha’s, she had important work to do! These tests should clarify the stage and possible metastases (spreading).

ANSWERS ARE HARD TO COME BY

2/28/12 Tue. AM

Diagnosis:

Confirmed adenocarcinoma located at junction of rectum & sigmoid. 

I received the diagnosis from the colonoscopy and CT scan yesterday afternoon from my doctor. Still there were missing parts. So, the CT scan will show a blurry version of possible additional locations of cancers, but then there were spots on my liver, which could be nothing or… something!! Until I get a PET scan and ultrasound, I will not know the extent of any metastases. So, darn, I hoped to have answers, but instead more questions came up.

Tests/treatment:

Prepping for PET scan and ultrasound. Should clarify some spots on liver – cysts or masses? I am carbs-only today, then fast for tomorrow. Appointment at 11:15am. Then I will be radioactive for 24 hours! I have to stay away from small children and pregnant people.

Today’s observations:

I still feel fine! Had to get a little creative, as I’m not familiar with a low-carb diet. Did fine, ended up digging into the sardines we inherited from our neighbors (thanks Bill & Lisa!). Matt has developed some strange digestive symptoms. It is difficult to tell if we should be alarmed, as he tends to internalize stress in his gut, but he has been horribly uncomfortable, and has symptoms similar to mine. His colonoscopy this Fri. will hopefully alleviate the worry.

He is endlessly amazed & baffled by my optimism, and tells me so many times a day. He is such a hero how he manages receptionists, insurance and examines the doctors!

Tonight we were to call my parents to discuss their visit this coming weekend. I called at dinner to let them know Matt was late, and they started asking questions that Matt & I hadn’t really discussed yet. I didn’t know what to tell them, but knew they needed to prepare for a long trip! Also, they were worried for their daughter, being so far away. So Matt came back, touched base with some neighbors, and then we called my parents.

In that time, Matt had my parents totally at ease, had presented them with social plans he had just arranged, and was joking and teasing, like he does.

It made my heart so proud to think that:

1) my parents can look forward to their trip,

2) they can be here with me while I’m going through my trials,

3) Matt is bonding with them.

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