Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Month: December 2013

Genetic Test Results Letter

This entry is part 24 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

I received the letter from the genetic counselor a couple weeks ago, but it got lost in the detritus of my writing life on the right-hand extension of my desk, which I cleaned up today. Since I promised a more detailed explanation of my genetic test results when I received the letter, that’s what I’m doing today.

Essentially, the results haven’t changed. I now have proof neither BRCA1 nor BRCA2 have deleterious mutations. From what I can see, they don’t have any mutations at all, which is a relief. Part of the reason for the concern is that mutations in either of these genes can cause other types of cancers in men and women. If there had been mutations, I’d have to have at least a partial hysterectomy in addition to a full double mastectomy to prevent future cancer in my breasts and ovaries (for men, it would include the prostate), but there would be no way to effectively prevent the other type of cancer: pancreatic.

According to the letter, approximately 230,000 females and 2,200 males are newly diagnosed with breast cancer each year. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer over the course of a lifetime and it is the most common malignancy among women in developed countries. The letter also says that family history is the best way of determining whether or not one is at risk for breast cancer and that hereditary breast cancer tends to occur earlier in life than cases like mine, which is termed “non-inherited sporadic.” It is apparently rather rare for someone who has no genetic mutations or family history of breast cancer to develop it at my age; the year of my 40th birthday, which is in November. Other factors which may have some influence over developing breast cancer are “age, gender, reproductive history, alcohol abuse, and radiation exposure.”

The letter goes on to describe method of gene extraction and testing. I understand most of the words on an individual basis, but taken together, they’re rather overwhelming to me at the moment. I’ve never had a very good comprehension of science. LOL

Chraest’s Calendar

I like fiddling with calendars in my worldbuilding, but for Chraest, I originally slapped a 365-day/12-month calendar into the worldbuilding and told myself I’d figure things out later. Later has arrived.

I’m never happy with worldbuilding calendars based on our year and numbering system. It’s actually harder for me to come up with holidays and celebrations and the history of the fictional calendar if I do that. I tend to slide into simply letting them share our seasonal habits. It also makes my world a little less interesting than if I take the time and put forth the effort to create an original calendar for it.

I was talking about the calendar in FM Writers chat this past weekend. Mostly voicing my displeasure over the fact I wasn’t pleased with what I’d come up with just slapping an earth-standard calendar into it. I was struggling with references to holidays in my wip, which I make every so often, because it seemed so bland. Then, Zette, the site’s owner, reminded me of my usual habit of worldbuilding an original calendar by suggesting I change the length of Chaest’s year.

I was hesitant at first, but eventually dove into it. What came out was a 540-day year divided into twelve months of three Cycles. Each Cycle has four months in it, a two-week Holy Month at the beginning, and three six-week Secular Months. The weeks are nine days long, and there is no leap year. I’ve used the magic numbers 3, 6, and 9 to determine pretty much everything to do with the calendar, and need to worldbuild the philosophy behind them now I know what they are. As for the 2 weeks in the Holy Months, I’ve decided 18, the number of days in them, is special because it’s a factor of all three magic numbers.

After determining the month and year divisions, I determined the seasonal equinoxes and solstices. To do this, I declared the spring equinox the first day of the year and counted from there.

Now I’m down to naming the months. Getting those for the Holy Months was pretty easy. Getting the names of the Secular Months is a challenge. I don’t want to simply number them—that feels like cheating. I don’t want to name them after seasonal changes, because the worldbuilding behind this particular Calendar is that the True Gods dictate the calendar to their followers, and they have faithful in every part of the world, including locations with little or no seasonal change at all, or which do not have the seasonal changes typical of middling northern/southern hemispheres, where there is a definite progression through defined seasons. It’s hard to make months named “Frozen Waters” or “First Snows” fit for a tropical or subtropical area where the water doesn’t freeze and they get a period of rain instead of snow. I considered naming them after animals, then realized I can’t do that because not all areas have the same animals. I went to Think Tank, a group brainstorming event held in chat from 7-9 PM Mountain Time each Sunday and Friday, to get suggestions for names based on familial relationships, and the philosophy handed down, but don’t much like what I got.

And my work with it won’t be done with that. Once I have the months named, I need to go through my stories and adjust mentions of time passing, character ages, and the names of months to reflect the new calendar. This is something I look forward to. Having a calendar that isn’t earth standard will make my stories more fun to write.

Side Effects Update

This entry is part 23 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

I’ve had my second chemo treatment, and things have been happening a little differently this time. The side effects don’t seem as severe, and there have been some minor changes in them.

I’ve gotten what I’ll call “chemo mouth” both times. In the written materials I’ve received and according to what I was verbally told by my Oncologists, I was told to expect this to happen. Severe cases include sores in the mouth, and may also include either an inability to taste food or a change in how food tastes, including a metallic flavor. I think it largely depends on your chemo drugs. I did not get sores, but I did get dry spots, especially near my teeth. My chemo mouth includes a dry, cracked sensation on my tongue and dry patches in my mouth, I guess as the cells on my tongue and gums are those which are frequently replaced. This begins on about Friday or Saturday following the chemo treatment, and lasts for about five days to a week. I’m at the tail end of it right now. Food’s flavor does not fail or change for me, but my mouth does become more sensitive to hot temperatures and spices in foods. This I imagine is because of the way the cells are sloughing off, leaving my tongue and gums somewhat raw.

My fatigue was not as profound this time. Though I did spend much of Wednesday in bed, I did not sleep the entire time and was actually able get a bit of writing done. Thursday, I had to go to the VA Hosp, and though I wanted a nap, I was able to stay awake and alert the entire time I was there. I went to bed extremely early both nights—before eight o’clock.

This time, I didn’t get the incredible multiple-day headache I got last time. I got a little minor headache pain, which was taken care of by hydrating on Wednesday. No unusual headache pain the following days.

I had a little bit of constipation on Wednesday and Thursday, but did not have to go to the ER over it, and it was gone by Friday. While I have a bit of diarrhea now, it doesn’t seem as frequent as it was last time, and it’s started yesterday instead of on the weekend. There have also been no bouts of incredible abdominal pain which couldn’t be relieved as I experienced last time, which I’m very happy about.

There is a dry patch of flaky skin on the back of my right hand, above the index and middle finger knuckles. This appeared after my first chemo treatment, so I suspect it’s one of the minor side effects.

I have some small bit of hair left, but I expect it to fall out within the next week. My scalp is also very dry and flaky; I’m not actually sure this is a side effect of the chemotherapy, but I thought I should mention it in case it is. In addition to the dry flakiness, I also have some sharp pain in the skin. This isn’t very pronounced unless I’m touching or brushing my head for some reason, so I try not to do it too often despite the itching. I suspect this sharp pain is a side effect of the chemo, because I had none before treatment, and it seemed to begin at about the same time I started losing my hair.

Rathers

Get any group of writers together, regardless of genre, and if they’re the type to write a little each day, or have a set wordcount goal a week, you’ll eventually hear them discuss what they’d rather be working on. This isn’t a negative desire as in “I’d rather be at home reading than working my paying job.” This is the writer full of a fresh (or not so fresh) new (or maybe not so new) idea which is currently firing up their creative mind to the point where that one idea is the one they want to focus on.

Some writers are fairly good at lining up all their story ideas and saying, “I’ll write you in this order and no other way.” It’s just the way their minds work. Others aren’t able to be quite so organized or patient and bounce from one project to another until they eventually start completing stories.

But there’s always those Rathers. Even when if a writer is the type to bounce, it’s that Rather speaking.

I’m generally able to line my writing up and say “I’ll do you in this order.” This does not preclude me getting an attack of the Rathers, however. I’m in the middle of one right now in fact, with A Life of Note, the story (set) which follows pretty much right after events in TPOM. Well, within a year or two of events from it. ALON has been a rather well-behaved idea most of the year, to be honest, waiting patiently for me to get close to finishing TPOM’s three books. But it wants to be written. I can tell.

‘Cause I’d rather be working on it right now.

To explain: Last year, when I started on Unsought Gifts, the first book of TPOM, I did so with the assumption ALON would be book two of the (at the time only) trilogy planned with my characters Asthané and Géta. I thought UG would be about 90k-120k words, then I’d take my characters back to the Capitol to do their thing, then have a third book concerning a major war with an ancestral enemy. No problem. Simple!

Except, not quite so simple.

I wrote UG and book two of TPOM in one individual file, and it quickly became apparent that, though UG itself was only around 50k-60k words, the rest of the story was going to exceed pretty much all expectations for putting it into one book with UG. So I did the wise thing and cut UG from the wip and put it in its own file and wrote what is now the second book to TPOM out to completion. The second book, tentatively titled Severe Notes, is about 110k words, with a few missing scenes I haven’t been able to write ’cause I haven’t known the ultimate ending of the trilogy. I’m looking at book three to come out around the same length.

This of course necessitated me setting ALON aside, since there was (is) no way it can fit in this trilogy. It’s had a year to get “ripe” for writing. This means I now have plenty of scenes for at least one book sitting in my head, with quite a number of plot points and a variety of other ideas which may or may not get used once I start hammering things out.

As a result, every so often throughout this past year, I’ve looked at ALON and thought, “I’d rather be working on that.” I simply haven’t been able to since it requires me knowing where TPOM ends for the MCs on an emotional basis. Now that I’m getting close to that ending, I’m feeling the Rathers very strongly. My mind is turning more and more to ALON and what I want to do with it.

Even with my ability to organize and line up my wips, ALON has been getting antsy to be written, and I’m enjoying the process of going batty with anticipation of working on it while finishing up TPOM’s third book. I have to say, after the experience I had with the gay romances, this is not as annoying as some other writers might find it. I’m glad to have my Rathers and be toying with the next major project I have planned.

In the Mail

My square dance club is a member of a regional Utah square dance club organization, and I have met very many nice people through this connection. One such person is Angela Mast, who sent me a little something about cancer.

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so limited . . .
It cannot cripple Love
It cannot shatter Hope
It cannot corrode Faith
It cannot destroy Peace
It cannot kill Friendship
It cannot suppress Memories
It cannot silence Courage
It cannot invade the Soul
It cannot steal Eternal Life
It cannot conquer the Sprit

Author Unknown

She sent this with a very encouraging card. The little card is heart-shaped, with a floral design around the edges and the phrase, “A grateful heart knows many joys” in the center. Within, she’s written, “Dear ———: Thinking of you with prayers and love. Make the Journey of your illness with Faith and Determination! Please keep in touch. Love, Angela.”

It gives me comfort to know I am supported in this journey. Now I’m going to call her and tell her I received her card and appreciate the little poem/statement she sent with it.

My Chemo Medication Regimen

This entry is part 22 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

I’ve been wanting to write up an accurate post about this since my first chemo treatment, just didn’t record anything about the process/procedure at the time. Today I did, with the help of a very accommodating nurse named Allen.

I’m required to take two dexamethasone (Decadron) tablets, with food, twice on the day prior to my chemo treatment to prevent nausea.

Day of treatment, I undergo, in the order written, the following medication administration procedure:

1. Dexamethasone x 5 and odansetron (Zofran) x 2. This latter medication is also to prevent nausea. If they come in liquid form, they are administered over half an hour; after swallowing them with orange juice today, I had to wait half an hour for them to be digested.

2. The nurse then flushed my porta-cath with saline solution to ensure there was proper flow for the administration of my chemo medications.

3. He then administered Taxotere (docetaxel), the first of my chemo drugs, running it through a regulator on an IV stand to ensure it didn’t flood my system. This takes about an hour or so.

4. When the regulator stopped beeping, Allen came back in and did another saline flush.

5. Then he proceeded to hook up the Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), the second medication of my chemo regimen, also running its IV tube through a regulator. Approximately another hour or so. I received my lunch near the end of this and was able to eat all of it without any adverse effects.

6. When the Cytoxan finished, Allen returned and disconnected its administration tube from the starter-IV tube, flushed my port with saline again to clean it out, then injected a dose of Heprin to ensure blood doesn’t clot in my port. He then removed the IV-starter tube from my port and patched me up with a bandage.

After this, I was free to pack up and go, which I did.

Tomorrow, I’m to take another two-pills-twice of dexamethasone. In addition, I’m free to decide if I’m willing to take the other two medications prescribed for nausea: odansetron and prochlorperazine maleate. Suggested dose of the Odansetron is one tablet by mouth every four hours if needed, and suggested dose for the prochlorperazine maleate is one tablet by mouth every six hours if needed, not to exceed 40 MG per day. If needed, I’m to take these two other pills on Thursday as well.

Then, that evening, I’m to inject myself with Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) to stimulate production of white blood cells. This must be administered at least 24 hours following chemo treatment, but not before then, and since I finished with chemo at around 1 pm today, tomorrow evening is an acceptable range of time for me to administer the injection.

This is the most accurate explanation of my medication regimen I have access to.

After today’s chemo appointment, I had to make an unexpected appointment with my head Oncologist, Dr. Weis (correct spelling of his name, I hope) for Thursday at 2:30 pm. My mom will be accompanying me since she has some questions to ask, and we intend to get what information we can regarding my PET scan’s results from him at this time.

After I got home today, I received a call from the VA to arrange another appointment with Dr. Weis, this one slated for the 9th of January at noon. I’m to go to the Lab for this so blood can be taken, and I half expect to be called to arrange another echocardiogram. This is prior to any further chemo appointments I may be making, and my mom clearly believes this indicates I won’t be getting any more. I am, needless to say, not quite so confident of this. I think this is simply an interim checkup and I’ll be doing at least one if not two more chemo treatments following this January 9 appointment with Dr. Weis.

Yesterday, I received a call from the genetic counselor, and she was able to tell me I don’t have any known breast cancer gene mutation. This does not rule out a genetic connection, but as they don’t know all the genes which affect this particular cancer, she was unable to tell me what I might expect in future. She told me she’d send me the information she had, but it hasn’t come in yet, so I’ll post more on it after it arrives.

Possible Prework Method

I’ve been trying to figure out a way to begin outlines before I begin writing the stories I come up with. Typical method is for me to write a few scenes, then reverse outline them on plot cards in Scrivener before continuing on with a preworked outline. Once I get to this point, I typically do two plot cards per one scene written as I progress through the project. This method is far from perfect. Not only do I get confused between what I’m writing and outlining, if I hit a block in the outline, I don’t feel confident enough to continue writing scenes, especially when I have few outlined, and it stalls the project—as it has with TPOM3 at the moment.

I think, however, I may have discovered a method I can work with. It’s how I figured out the last portion of Brotherhood A’s outline.

Basically what I did was create a new text file in Scrivener and typed in all the plot points which were required to complete the story. This was about ten or eleven plot points, and I typed them up out of order, so the next step was putting them in the order in which I wanted them to happen. After I did this, I handwrote the scene summaries on 5×8 index cards—again, doing them out of order, as the ideas occurred to me. Once I had these done, I organized them then read through them over and over until I came up with interim scenes to fill out the outline a bit and tie in plotting I’d already outlined or written out. These cards, I tucked into place in order despite writing out of order, because I was basing them in part on the big plot-points cards. With the outline completed in handwriting on index cards, I then entered the plot cards in Scrivener, then read through the last portion of the outline and the rest of the story to make sure I was picking up all the plot threads I’d opened in the manuscript and numbered outline. I ended up adding a card or two, then numbered the new cards with an epilogue summary card at the end.

This is not the most speedy method I could have come up with. The whole process took me a couple days for about fifteen plot cards, but it was both fun and helpful. I plan on using this method with the next story I do after I finish Brotherhood A, starting with it before I actually write any scenes out. I’d like to develop a completed outline using this method.

Now it’s just a matter of deciding which project to work on next. I have quite a few in line, but none are calling strongly enough to really grip my attention. I’ve already got a plan for what to work on after I’m done with TPOM’s books—the first and second books of the trilogy have some missing scenes I can’t write until I know how the third book ends. That will be A Life of Note, which will either be one long book or a trilogy. Not sure which at this point and probably won’t have any idea until I get to working on its outline.

I’d kind of like to work on a couple different books/trilogies after Brotherhood A. I also need to work up a timeline of events so that I can keep everything straight in the books, because most of the ones following TPOM kind of follow upon one another. Even the book I have planned of the changing of Lissau’s government from empire to hierocracy ties into the overall scheme of the Édalain Empire’s longstanding animosity with Ghulia and its ruler, the Autocrat.

The Humble Miracles trilogy and Brotherhood B don’t directly tie in to that relationship, but they are about conflicts which must be ended for the greater good of the Empire. I see Brotherhood B as the last Empire-centric story set during Empress Yulée’s rule. I may write a “sequel” to Brotherhood A; it should be one book, and it ties in to Brotherhood A a few years following events in that book.

I really need to get the timeline worked up. That’ll help me with organization of this mess of ideas. LOL

Adventures in Medical Care

This past summer, I began the process of having my knees re-evaluated for service connection disability with the Veterans’ Administration. My knee problem developed in boot camp.

To explain: In Navy Basic Training, if you’re in a division with both males and females, your division is paired with another one, and they are given neighboring compartments in the dorm. One of these barracks chambers is your division’s, and the other is your brother division’s, and the members belonging to that division will cross over to spend time together for certain activities and exercises. My division’s (102’s) girls were in our brother division’s (101’s) compartment, and we were in the back half of the chamber—farthest from the Petty Officers’ office.

My division’s girls would get loud.

One of our brother division’s Petty Officers had a particular discipline he liked to use. Kneeling at attention in silence. He would pop out and make everyone do this when the girls in my division got loud. My knees did not take well to this form of discipline, and, eventually, after enough of those exercises to silence my divisionmates, I could bend my knees only about halfway. When I suggested going to the infirmary to rehabilitate my knees, my Petty Officers all said if I did that, I’d be discharged and that it would be better if I sucked it up and graduated boot camp first, then worked on my knees when I got to my A School.

Nowadays, I have a consistent pain of about one or two each day. Sometimes it increases to a three or four, rarely a five, and usually when I’ve been very active with a lot of walking on cement or the weather changes. My knees are a little stiff in the morning, and I force them to bend as much as I can despite pain and discomfort because I refuse to let my knees restrict my life. My diagnosis at this point is Patella-Femoral Syndrome, a condition where the kneecap slips out of place.

Yesterday, for my adventure in Medical Care, I got to go to a doctor’s office for an evaluation. This could have been simple, but the VA apparently has a contract only with a doctor who’s way out on the outskirts of the city. It took two long bus rides to get there.

I pulled the cord for the correct stop on the second bus, but, in my initial view of the area, it appeared somewhat rural, without any business buildings, just houses on a hill. So I asked the bus driver if there was a shopping plaza or something ahead, and when he said there was, I told him I’d rather go on to there.

Let me say, it was a very good thing I’d started this journey about three and a half hours before the appointment printed in the explanation and FAQ letter the VA sent me for this visit.

So I got off the bus at the shopping plaza and was, at first, quite reassured. Businesses, including a Dan’s Grocery and Einstein’s Bagels. I could work with this. After making a pit stop at a corner gas station for restroom and a snack, I trekked the length of the shopping center with the grocery store on my search for the doctor’s office—without success. The shopping plaza was one level, and the suite given for the doctor’s office was #310. So I came to the end of the plaza and considered things for a moment.

Well, I was at 3900 south, and the address given was around 4700 south. And I’d had the bus stop way back yonder near 4500 south. Which meant I probably had to get way back to that rural-looking area and hunt around for some sort of office building complex.

This involved a mile-long trek on a sidewalk only partially cleared of snow—did I mention we had snow the day before and it was about 25 degrees F? It was cold, and the sidewalk was treacherous with snow, right beside a street with people driving pretty fast. I laugh now, but that road had me so nervous, all I could do was hope that my crocheted rainbow scarf was bright enough to alert people to the idiot walking alongside the road.

I eventually reached the first stop I’d had the bus stop at and this time noticed the buildings on the hill across the street from it. This gave me hope. After searching for the entrance to this little office plaza, I found the driveway and headed for the nearest building. Whose directory did not list the clinic I needed to go to. Despite my disappointment, I knew I had another building to check, so I crossed the vast parking lot to it and entered to look at its directory. Eureka! The doctor’s office was listed on it. Greatly relieved, because I’d spent most of my extra time hunting this place down, I headed up to the office with about 15 or 20 minutes to spare before my written 12:45 appointment.

I got into the office’s minuscule waiting room and draped myself on the receptionist’s bar behind her computer, asking if anyone was in since no one sat at the desk. The receptionist and a nurse (she wasn’t really a nurse, but had some other medical-related degree I’ve forgotten, but I’ll call her a nurse for convenience) came out and told me my appointment was for 2:45. I had to laugh about this. They invited me to have a cup of hot tea or a bottle of water, and I chose the latter, then sat to read until they called me back.

My early arrival was good, though. After two other patients were seen, the nurse called me back early and the doctor evaluated my knees. This involved much bending and twisting of my knees, him pressing on them to find tender spots, and a great deal of pain. He also asked me a series of questions to get a thorough picture of my day to day issues with my knees. During the process, I received some ibuprofen, which I needed by this time, and I don’t usually take pain pills. Also during the course of this interview and examination, he notified me I was expected at a hospital downtown to have my knees X-Rayed, which was news to me! (LOL)

After he finished, I bundled up again, X-Ray order folded with the FAQ letter in my satchel. Then I took the bus I’d ridden out to the light rail station at the other end of its line, stopped at my bank downtown for laundry and transit money, then headed out to the hospital. I must say, I was quite glad the hospital was downtown, because I live nearby, and it was two short bus trips back home.

Now, at the hospital, I had a little side adventure. Signs pointing to the main entrance seemed to indicate a tall building on the northwest corner of the block the hospital on, so I passed the driveway to the entrance to the hospital proper and entered a building which seemed deserted. In my explorations of the entry halls, someone came in from a back door into the building and allowed me to follow her to where she was going. One of the office personnel there was kind enough to give me directions to the hospital—I happened to be in a building devoted to various clinics and doctors’ offices which was affiliated with the hospital. He took me to a window in the waiting room and pointed things out, and I thanked him for his help, then made my way to the hospital.

Check in took fifteen minutes, and I received a wristband before being directed to the radiology department. Within five minutes of my arrival, I was taken back for the X-Rays, and they proceeded quickly and easily with a minimum of additional discomfort. That completed, I was free to leave, and the westbound bus I needed came within two minutes of my arrival at the bus stop. From there, it was a block walk off the westbound bus to the southbound bus to take me home, and I must say I was glad to be home.

Now I get to wait for the results of this day-long excursion. I won’t be surprised by a confirmation of Patella-Femoral Syndrome, or a diagnosis of arthritis at this point. Either way, I’ll have exercises to do to rehabilitate my knees or some sort of care plan to deal with the arthritis, so it’ll be good.

After Chemo

This entry is part 21 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

I should have gotten to this sooner, but I’ve actually been waiting for all the immediate side effects of chemo to wear away and I think they’re finally gone. Now I’ll explain what happened, but please keep in mind, this was only my experience, and others will likely experience slightly different side effects from chemo treatment.

Day of chemo, I was only a little weary, I’m fairly certain more due to the fact I hadn’t slept soundly the night before due to worries over getting to the VA on time to do lab work before the treatment. The next day and the one following (Weds and Thurs), I was much more weary, particularly on Wednesday. I think I spent most of the day in bed, making intermittent efforts to rise and do something at my computer. I’d get up, fiddle around a little bit, then be back in bed within two hours. I did this several times throughout the day on Wednesday, though Thursday was slightly the opposite. I may have spent about half of my usual waking hours in bed on Thursday, and finally began to feel more energetic and like writing by that evening. Friday, the draggy feeling was almost completely gone, certainly not strong enough to send me back to bed. I napped, but I do that about two or three days a week anyway, and the only difference was that I slept for three hours instead of about one.

I experienced very little nausea. On Wednesday, I took one of my 24-hour antinausea pills just to make sure I didn’t get sick, but I never got more than a vague feeling of queasiness. I was able to eat normally, have cups of very sweet hot chocolate, and did not vomit. Thursday, I didn’t take an antinausea pill at all, had the same vague feeling of queasiness, and ate normally without anything worse than the queasiness. Friday, I had a little queasiness, but it wasn’t as strong as previous days, and it did nothing to interfere with my appetite or what I ate.

What I did get was a constant headache. I woke up with it on Thursday, and I attributed it to being dehydrated, because I certainly hadn’t drunk enough the previous day to flush my system of the chemo drugs as I’d been advised to do. Sleeping all day definitely interfered with that goal. The headache didn’t go away even though I went through a pitcher and a half of my favorite caffeine free herbal tea and avoided all caffeinated products. It continued through the weekend and didn’t fade until the following Monday or Tuesday. It was not an excruciating headache, but it settled in the front of my head and even aspirin didn’t do anything to alleviate it. I think now it may have been one of the side effects of the chemo treatment, but haven’t read through my information packet again yet to see if such is listed. Will do that probably tomorrow and try to remember to update this post with what I find.

The information on Chemo I received in my hands and was given verbally at the hospital before treatment included conflicting information on how my bowels may be affected as well. There’s no middle ground with this. Options are diarrhea or constipation. Possibly both. I was afflicted with the first from the Friday following my first treatment through the week following, with one excruciatingly painful evening spent on Sunday of that first weekend when I experienced incredible pain in my hips, which proceeded to climb my spine and fill my thigh bones. I could not for hours figure out what the issue was—I didn’t feel a need for a bowel movement, and all other bodily functions including eating did nothing to alleviate the pain or to cause it to worsen. Not even aspirin got rid of this pain. It began at about three or four in the afternoon and lasted until approximately nine at night and did not begin to decrease until I finally felt a need for a bowel movement and ended up spending the next hour in the bathroom doing so. It was, thankfully, not repeated the remainder of the week.

And, I literally just combed a hand through my hair and ended up pulling out a great deal more than comes out naturally, so I think I’m already starting to lose my hair. According to all the information I received from the Oncologists, both verbally and in writing, hair loss is pretty much guaranteed, it’s just a matter of when. If I lose it now . . . oh, well. That’s the least of my concerns, though I’ll miss my grey hair.

Updated to add: I looked at the information I have for my chemo medications, and neither listed headache as a side effect. Next step is to read through the information I received with my pills. Will get to that by next week.

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