This post is about cancer and vomiting. Please skip it if that’s not your thing or it hits just a little too close to home.
I threw up into my favorite vomit bag this morning. It’s not something I do every day, but it happens frequently enough post-chemo that I’ve had strategically located vomit bags in place since 2017. In the drawer of the nightstand, in the end table by the couch, in the glove box, and in the seat basket of my Rollator. When those run low, I always have a backup stash in the linen closet in the hallway. (These are my preferred bags if you’re curious.)
That’s the cancer life, I guess—having a preference in vomit bags. I worry they’re not eco-friendly but have ultimately given myself a pass. Mostly because I move slow and reaching alternative receptacles isn’t always possible. But also because (pro tip for you here) stomach acid is a lot less likely to eat the lining of your nasal passages if you’re upright with a bag over your mouth as opposed to hunched over a toilet or trash can.
Anyway, I woke up feeling severely dehydrated this morning, which is another thing I still have trouble with over a year after my last gleostine: I always dehydrate when I’m sleeping. I keep water by my bed but it doesn’t really help unless I wake up to drink some every hour or so. A lot of times I do wake up. Usually to pee (go figure!) and I just perpetuate a vicious, vicious cycle. Sometimes though, what I manage to drink during the night isn’t close to enough.
So this morning I woke up with a pounding headache and was dying of thirst. I drank about ten ounces of water with my AM round of meds—Ritalin for my cancer fatigue, Vitamin D for a pretty severe deficiency, Synthroid for a thyroid my doctors destroyed (on purpose) fifteen years ago, and two Tylenol for my unbearable headache. I usually throw everything down in one take, but I was feeling cautious this morning. I dropped one pill at a time until I got to the last two. When I tossed the Tylenol on my tongue I immediately started gagging. I wasn’t always like this; brain cancer has definitely fucked me up. But these days I’m so sensitive I can’t even use toothpastes that are too foamy because they make me puke.
“Shit. I’m going to barf,” I said to Dan spitting the Tylenol into my palm.
“You still have the bags in here?” he opened the drawer of the end table and handed me one.
I lost my pills and vitamins. Thankfully, none of them were too expensive. But during treatment, I lost thousand-dollar pills this way. Then later I learned it’s not uncommon for cancer patients to vomit through a sieve for this very reason.
I’m feeling OK enough right now. After a Pedialyte pop (also a staple in our house) I was brave enough to try an English muffin and that went just fine. I can’t shake the headache, and it’s starting to settle into my eye teeth and molars. I figure I have about 30 minutes of screen time left before I classify this fucker as a full-blown migraine. Which sucks, because my migraine app just congratulated me for going three whole weeks without one.
Last thing before I go, though, because I want to log this: I have a hard pea-sized lump in my right armpit that’s been hanging around for about a week. Part of me is worried about it. Part of me is like, meh, I already have brain cancer. Oh! Brain cancer fun fact: we don’t get routine PET scans to check for the spread of cancer because—and I’m paraphrasing my oncologist here—brain cancer usually stays in the brain.
Yeah, so I know if this lump is still around when I see my new primary next month she’s going to ask how long it’s been there. If it’s in my blog, I’ll be able to answer that question. Could be just be a little infection in the lymph node—my immune system is pretty shitty after all. We’ll see if it clears up before my appointment. OK, leaving abruptly so I can log this migraine in my tracker.