Post-Chemo effects

7fergie
7fergie Member Posts: 19
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I had my last chemo treatment on May23,2003. This is June 23 a full month later. My energy level is in the cellar or close to it. When I walk there's definitely no zip to it--very slow--and that's as fast as it gets right now--like my legs/body don't want to do what my brain wants them to--more like a tortoise. I tire easily--Im the one looking for somewhere to sit like when we went to a building supplies store today and I love those stores. A friend of mine did tell me that when she had chemo that her legs felt like they had lead in them. I'd like to hear other survivors' comments though, too. Before chemo I had a problem with itchy skin and it seemed to get better with chemo even though my skin dryed out like crazy and still is. Now the itching has gone back to and gotten much worse than pre-chemo. Just extra dry skin from chemo? My husband commentedthat I'm out of shape and that is the reason for the low energy level but like I told him, I've been out of shape for long periods of time before and never felt like this so I think it's due to chemo. Is this probably chemo related--not a sickly/anemic person in my whole life but got close to anemia on chemo and when can I expect it to get better. Other than exercise can I do anything to help it or will it just have to run its course?

Jeanette

Comments

  • inkblot
    inkblot Member Posts: 698 Member
    Hi Jeanette:

    I don't know very much about post chemo fatigue but I do know that during chemo, the more I could do, the better I felt. I'd push myself some days to take a walk in the woods or circle the lake 5 times or whatever, even though I didn't always feel up to it. I was careful not to over exert myself but found that when I stuck to a daily routine of some physical exercise, I felt much better. I know it sounds strange to exercise when one is already tired but it did help and my level of fatigue never really became an issue, during or after treatment. Just those few days following infusion, when I'd need to rest more and would seem to need extra sleep.

    It may be a good idea to have your onc. check your counts. Could be, if yours became very low during treatment, they have not yet rebounded enough to provide the energy your body needs. I'm assuming that you're scheduled for a 3 month check up with your onc. at which time they'll check your counts too. Since you're very fatigued though, it may be wise to have them checked now. Another thought is that if you are in "chemopause", some of the fatigue may be related to that as well. Ask your doctor.

    An idea for the dry, itchy skin: try Hydrophillic ointment. The stuff works wonders with regular use. It's pure and contains no perfumes, etc..If you don't see it on the shelf in your drug store, ask your pharmacists and he/she will know what it is and should be able to get it for you. (It isn't very expensive) I apply it just after showers/baths and after just a few weeks use, it softens the skin remarkably. I really rely on it during the dry, winter months. It can feel a bit heavy at first, if you're accustomed to using thinner lotions and creams. I find that it dissipates fairly soon though and is well worth the effort. My pharmacist keeps a sample jar in the drugstore and offers it to people with dry, itchy skin or eczema like conditions. He just fills a good sized pill bottle to the top and people can take it home and try it out before buying a big jar. Of course, he can be thoughtful that way for customers/friends, because he is an independent. Chain drugstores would probably faint at the very idea of giving product away like that! If you want a "trial run" I'd suggest trying an independent pharmacy first, as you may have a better result with such a request.

    Good luck and hope I've been of some small help.

    Love, light and laughter,
    Ink
  • 7fergie
    7fergie Member Posts: 19
    inkblot said:

    Hi Jeanette:

    I don't know very much about post chemo fatigue but I do know that during chemo, the more I could do, the better I felt. I'd push myself some days to take a walk in the woods or circle the lake 5 times or whatever, even though I didn't always feel up to it. I was careful not to over exert myself but found that when I stuck to a daily routine of some physical exercise, I felt much better. I know it sounds strange to exercise when one is already tired but it did help and my level of fatigue never really became an issue, during or after treatment. Just those few days following infusion, when I'd need to rest more and would seem to need extra sleep.

    It may be a good idea to have your onc. check your counts. Could be, if yours became very low during treatment, they have not yet rebounded enough to provide the energy your body needs. I'm assuming that you're scheduled for a 3 month check up with your onc. at which time they'll check your counts too. Since you're very fatigued though, it may be wise to have them checked now. Another thought is that if you are in "chemopause", some of the fatigue may be related to that as well. Ask your doctor.

    An idea for the dry, itchy skin: try Hydrophillic ointment. The stuff works wonders with regular use. It's pure and contains no perfumes, etc..If you don't see it on the shelf in your drug store, ask your pharmacists and he/she will know what it is and should be able to get it for you. (It isn't very expensive) I apply it just after showers/baths and after just a few weeks use, it softens the skin remarkably. I really rely on it during the dry, winter months. It can feel a bit heavy at first, if you're accustomed to using thinner lotions and creams. I find that it dissipates fairly soon though and is well worth the effort. My pharmacist keeps a sample jar in the drugstore and offers it to people with dry, itchy skin or eczema like conditions. He just fills a good sized pill bottle to the top and people can take it home and try it out before buying a big jar. Of course, he can be thoughtful that way for customers/friends, because he is an independent. Chain drugstores would probably faint at the very idea of giving product away like that! If you want a "trial run" I'd suggest trying an independent pharmacy first, as you may have a better result with such a request.

    Good luck and hope I've been of some small help.

    Love, light and laughter,
    Ink

    Thank you, Inkblot, for your suggestions. I'll get into more of a routine of exercising since that helped you tremendously. Getting the counts would probably be a good idea. What is chemopause--medically caused menopause? I'm in that-had FSH tested but I knew before test results came back. Also can't sleep thru the night for having to get up at least twice to go to bathroom. If I can remember, I'll check for the ointment. Hope your suggestions work. Thanks,
    Jeanette
  • bullfrog13
    bullfrog13 Member Posts: 213
    Dear 7fergie
    Jeanette, I agree with Ink. You should have your counts done. At least of that is the problem you will know for sure and you can deal with it from the medical end.

    Either way it just may be taking you some time to bounce back. You have to remember your body has just been thought a VERY rough time and has worked harder than it probably every has in your life so it needs time to "regroup"

    I am so stubborn that I pushed myself and did not listen to my body. The day after my last treatment I was so determened to be "ALL BETTER" and "COMPLETELY WELL" and that I was going to lose all the wieght I had gained while on those stupid steroids. I joined a exercise class the next week and trust me this poor OLD BODY was just not ready. I gave myself some time, and rejoined a few months later and now I go at least 3 times a week and I actually feel worse when I dont go-----who knew??

    Give yourself some time, trust me-learn from my mistakes-dont push it. This too shall pass.

    Much luck and God Bless
    Jerilyn
    [email protected]
  • 7fergie
    7fergie Member Posts: 19

    Dear 7fergie
    Jeanette, I agree with Ink. You should have your counts done. At least of that is the problem you will know for sure and you can deal with it from the medical end.

    Either way it just may be taking you some time to bounce back. You have to remember your body has just been thought a VERY rough time and has worked harder than it probably every has in your life so it needs time to "regroup"

    I am so stubborn that I pushed myself and did not listen to my body. The day after my last treatment I was so determened to be "ALL BETTER" and "COMPLETELY WELL" and that I was going to lose all the wieght I had gained while on those stupid steroids. I joined a exercise class the next week and trust me this poor OLD BODY was just not ready. I gave myself some time, and rejoined a few months later and now I go at least 3 times a week and I actually feel worse when I dont go-----who knew??

    Give yourself some time, trust me-learn from my mistakes-dont push it. This too shall pass.

    Much luck and God Bless
    Jerilyn
    [email protected]

    OK. Thanks. I feel much better now that you and inkblot have talked to me. It's not just from being out of shape. Thanks again very much.
  • chef
    chef Member Posts: 17
    Hi-Fergie,
    It took me about 5 months to feel up to doing anything. Cleaning house or yard work is done in spirts now where before I could work at it all day. It's been 10 months and I can do more but I'm still not up to speed. Part of the difficulity I have is stiffness in my joints. I walk with a stiff gait now because my knees and ankles hurt. I've lost alot of strenth--alot. But on the up side it is better then a few months back. So I'm hopeful and expect to get stronger and regain my flexablity. Like Bulfrog, I think joining a gym will help. I just havn't gotten there yet. Hang in there..
  • DeeNY711
    DeeNY711 Member Posts: 476 Member
    Jeanette, what you are experiencing is definitely chemo-related. Your husband, like mine, is impatient for life to return to exactly the way it was "before." I have a gym membership, and each weekend, I hope the coming Monday will be the day when I am able to return to a daily routine of gentle exercise, not to mention the comfort of daily social interaction with delightful interesting fellow gym-goers. However, I cannot even do a normal grocery shopping right now. People who want to drop by to share a little time with me do not realize that even the smallest amount of activity (getting beverages, bringing out even simple things such as chips and dip prepared in advance) leave me exhausted and feeling as if I had been beaten with a hammer in the hips, knees, low back, etc. When it becomes apparent that husband, family and friends really just do not understand, I retreat to this message board for solace and a lot of good helpful information and inspiration. Be patient with yourself, Jeanette. Sometimes it helps me to recall that following the death of my grandfather, my husband was so impatient for things to go back to being just jolly that when I came home following the funeral, I found he had erected a Christmas tree on the kitchen table to indicate that it was time to put sorrow aside and "do Christmas." Shortly thereafter, when one of his own grandparents died, he expected the entire world to revolve around his bereavement. Hugs, Denise
  • inkblot
    inkblot Member Posts: 698 Member
    7fergie said:

    Thank you, Inkblot, for your suggestions. I'll get into more of a routine of exercising since that helped you tremendously. Getting the counts would probably be a good idea. What is chemopause--medically caused menopause? I'm in that-had FSH tested but I knew before test results came back. Also can't sleep thru the night for having to get up at least twice to go to bathroom. If I can remember, I'll check for the ointment. Hope your suggestions work. Thanks,
    Jeanette

    Sorry, Jeanette. I should have elaborated a bit on that. Chemopause is just what some people call the drug induced menopause so many of us find to be permanent, after chemotherapy. Pole vaulting right into it, suddenly, (at least that's how it went for me) can be physically challenging. I managed to skate on through though. Well, for the most part anyway. The night sweats were the worst. Woke up at all hours, drenched. (Never had the hot flashes) It finally began to settle though. Anyhow, together with the other symptoms common to menopause (no matter how one arrives) it can leave one low on energy, experiencing forgetfulness, sleep difficulties (getting to sleep and/or staying asleep)irritability, mood swings and let's not forget those notorious hot flashes. When we add the recent chemotherapy element, then we've a prescription for it taking a while for your body as well as your emotions to adjust. As so many advised you here, just be patient, take it slow and listen to your body. It will tell you when you're doing too much of something. Yoga was a big plus for me. It's gentle, increases flexibility and circulation and isn't physically demanding, unless one plans to start with the more difficult levels, which I wouldn't advise.
    It was especially wonderful for healing after surgery.

    Take heart. It does get better and better. Be kind to yourself and let everyone else know that you don't mind at all if they choose to continue to do the same for a while! Ha.

    I understand your hubbies enthusiasm for everything getting back to "normal" but he has to practice patience too. Your body has literally been through the "mill", medically. It needs time to recover and that's not an overnight process.

    Let me know how you make out with the ointment, if you begin using it.

    Best of luck...

    Love, light and laughter,
    Ink