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Starting out, I found it extraordinarily difficult to keep a medication list because it was continually going out of date faster than I could print them out, yet it has been helpful.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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PARENTS’ VISIT: SYMPATHY SYMPTOMS?

Parents caught an intestinal bug; were these sympathy symptoms?

Matt & I just saw my parents off after spending the week here in our humble settings. It started off like a normal vacation: parents rolled in on a lovely afternoon, moved into their accommodations, and sat down to have hors d’ oeuvres and drinks out on the deck with Matt & I. This is the first time I have seen my parents since the diagnosis of colorectal cancer nearly 2 months ago! So it would make sense that they would show some sympathy, right? Well, I didn’t know that would mean sharing symptoms!

The next morning we all went to the Ventura Harbor fish market, had brunch in town and spent the afternoon exploring Ventura. It was a hot day, and spending the day near the ocean meant we would miss the heat of the day up on Matt’s hill where it is nearly 10 degrees warmer. Then on to our friend Darrel’s to celebrate the UFC mixed martial arts fights, and mingle with Darrel and friends at his Tiki paradise (think Gilligan’s Island meets Swiss Family Robinson. This place is thoroughly A-mazing).

Sunday and Monday were about meeting the neighbors, photography for my dad, socializing with the hummingbirds and the sunshine for my mom.

Then…

Tuesday I had scheduled a follow-up appointment with my radiation oncologist, Dr. Chaiken. As we rushed to leave for the appointment, I learned my dad had been awake much of the night with diarrhea. Not wanting to draw attention away from the meeting at hand, plus a tendency for him to be stoic about such personal things, my dad showed he was alright. We didn’t feel worried, and proceeded into my appointment. It turns out, a rather serious case of the runs was keeping my dad in constant need of a nearby toilet. Believe me, considering my last several months of my own intestinal discomfort, I could relate, and really felt for him!

While in the exam room Matt and my parents sat quietly while I answered questions from my friendly nurse Janet and when Dr. Chaiken entered, I introduced her and we proceeded. By that time my dad calmly excused himself to leave the exam room. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, he just got up and left.

Moments later, Dr. Chaiken wrapped up the meeting, and we all lined up at the door. When the door opened, there was a machine on wheels in front of us, two nurses leaning over my seated, perspiring father, looking concerned. They were monitoring his blood pressure and giving him water.

Holy cow! What happened to my dad!

Well, thank goodness we were already at a hospital, and the emergency unit was right upstairs, where they could easily run some tests to make sure he was ok. We had taken separate cars, so three hours later, I was driving my parents to the pharmacy and then home to meet Matt, who was busily cooking a lamb roast for dinner.

What a day! Dad was feeling normal, outside of the uncomfortable intestinal difficulties, no definitive results turned up, and it turned out an intestinal infection and severe dehydration was changing the whole course of my parents’ vacation. That would have been the only blip in the agenda, but then my mom came down with a similar condition the next night!

Sympathy Symptoms

Unable to positively identify the cause of the bug, we theorized that it could have been some infected party foods that everyone was sharing. But what if they just secretly wanted to experience the same thing I was going through?

We took a break from activities, restricted diet to simple foods, and made use of some new medications and supplements. That kept the world goin’ round and the whole trip was not a loss. We could still get out to see things and do things. My parents wanted to be able to meet our neighbors and friends, do some tourist activities, practice some photography, to catch up and have some laughs, and to see that their daughter is doing OK!

By the time my parents left they were starting to feel ok and appreciated the time spent getting to know Matt better and being part of our eclectic existence here in Southern California.

Well, I guess I’m not too proud to give up the spotlight on my cancer diagnosis for my parents’ sympathy symptoms. We are family, after all.

Weight: 148 (I gained another 4 lbs!)
“Sun” burn fading, still itchy
Normal diet of whatever I want to eat and drink

FIRST DAY

Hello World!

First full day of treatment down (chemo/radiation) yesterday, and doing alright. I’m getting to know the parade of patients that comes through the radiation ward every day like me.

Feeling a bit off, fatigued, queezy, but as long as it’s working, it’s worth all that. Cheers to my darling Matt for being my rock and my love. My deep gratitude for all the wishes and prayers I have received.

This describes how I feel these days. Like a boneless chicken on the Boneless Chicken Ranch.

Boneless_Chicken_Ranch

So, I can’t drown my sorrows in beer anymore (not allowed to drink on this cancer-treatment diet).

Last night I was offered a pomegranate juice on the rocks (instead of margaritas). And I pictured myself today, like Bugs Bunny suffering the effects of mixing radish juice with carrot juice the night before, in the cartoon, “Hare Way to the Stars”.

What’s up Doc!

Carrot_Juice_and_Raddish_Juice

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