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Nasty Nausea!

CherylHutch's picture
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Oy vey... what a nasty four days this has been. As you all know, I got the first treatment of Irinotecan on Monday. I did notice a queasy/stomach upset while being infused but couldn't really determine if it was nausea or intestinal upset/cramps. So the chemo nurse did give me a shot of Atropin, which sort of helped.... so we figured it had to be the intestinal cramping. Meanwhile, I did take the Ondasteron and 2 Dexamethasone tabs, which we figured was sufficient for any possible nausea. Well, when I got home, there was still that feeling of something going on in the stomach... but still, I couldn't tell if it was nausea or cramping. So weird when you can't distinguish one from the other! But, I did have my meds to take, which I took as prescribed. Mon and Tues were ok, although a little out of sorts... which is to be expected. But Wed and today were downright miserable. I had prescription Gravol, but that didn't seem to touch it... and last night, I actually did start vomiting. So, obviously, this was nausea that we are dealing with.

Anywho... long story short. I talked to the chemo nurse today, who called my onc, who in turn called me. She wants me to take the ondasteron every 12 hours, and I was to take another one of the Dexamethasones today. Phew! What a difference! That got rid of the horrible, nasty queasies and what I'm feeling right now is pretty mild in comparison. She (my onc) promises me I won't feel like this the whole three weeks... and that the next infusion, we will also add Emend into the IV, along with the Atropin. Emend for nausea and Atropin for diarrhea.

Soooo, with a little bit of luck we will get this under control. But the moral of the story here, one that I keep telling everyone else but tend to forget myself, when you aren't feeling well... when there are side affects. Don't just assume that this is your lot in life and you have to put up with it. Get on the phone and talk to your onc, the chemo nurse, whatever your set up... and let them know you are suffering. They can prescribe meds for the side affects, but since not everyone has the same side affects or to the same degree, there's no point pumping EVERYONE full of every medication known for symptoms, unless the person is actually having the symptoms, if that makes sense. I mean, the last thing we want is to be taking prescription meds if we don't know actually need them. So it makes sense that they wait to see what your side affects are going to be before giving you the good stuff... but it's our own responsibility to actually tell them what is happening and not expect them to guess. If they don't hear from you, it's only natural that they are going to think everything is going well :)

Let me tell you.... Ginger Ale and hot Ginger Tea is my best friend this week :D


PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

Hi Cheryl, Sorry you're having a time with the side effects. It's been a few months since I've been on that med (still doing just erbitux) but I was getting the shot of Atrophin too and I discovered (after a longggg time) that it caused more cramping for me. I had them lessen then take that out of the equation and would take my own TCM medication for nausea and be OK.
The ginger ale was good for dry mouth
I hope you get it all under control and the side effects lessen for you.

Buzzard's picture
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

might be...with the Healthcare as it is in Canada she may can get it at a bargain...

but sincerely Cheryl, I had a fit with it and even Emend didn't do it much good..It was just a bad week at the ranch for me on chemo week.....I think though through med adjustments that they will get you better acclamated for handling it.....Much love and Hope for ya, buzz

CherylHutch's picture
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Hehehe... I'm counting on them getting it all worked out. I can handle a bit of queasiness and just put it down to the price we have to pay... but this was nasty yesterday and today! Phil, I did have some on hand and for the first time, I actually had to admit that it didn't help! Well, I felt calm and relaxed but it didn't get rid of the queasies and it was last night that I was struck with one bout of vomiting.

I have now had something to eat and I'm still holding my own... so we may be over the worst of it. I'll certainly keep my fingers crossed. Thanks, Buzz... I'll keep that in mind that it's possible the Emend may not do the trick. But hopefully, between the Emend, the Ondasteron, the Dex and the home cures ... some kind of combo will have to be better than the last two days :D


tootsie1's picture
Posts: 5065
Joined: Feb 2008

*smiles* I know a feisty woman like you is not going to suffer in silence. Glad speaking up got you some relief.


johnnybegood's picture
Posts: 1122
Joined: Oct 2008

i was hoping you were going to breeze thru this.but i know you can do it you are such a fighter.keep us posted and thanks for the input on the meds thing.this new fight for me is going to be a challange and i will keep my new onc informed Godbless..johnnybegood

hopeforcure49's picture
Posts: 111
Joined: Jan 2011

Glad you are feeling better. My oncologist prescribed zofran to take during the day and compazine at night also topical phenergan to rub on my wrist, this was for in between pills. And for me I love the smell of clean oranges, so I ate oranges and drank some cherry coke, and sierra mist... I know we shouldn't have sodas, but it helped my nausea. I hope you continue to feel better....Blessings Lourdes.

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CherylHutch's picture
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Well, this has definitely been the toughest week for me... tougher than everything I've gone through so far, as far as treatments, surgeries, radiation, etc. I definitely did the ginger thing... even made a tea of fresh ginger and orange peel... definitely refreshing, comforting, but it did not get rid of the nausea. Food is pretty much out of the question, although yesterday the nausea was gone... so I did make a meal. Ha! Well, obviously the eyes are bigger than the stomach during all of this... I managed 3 bites of delicious chicken and 4 bites of stuffing. Delicious, but then the tummy started acting up. Immodium is my friend... popping it like a candy addict.

The only drug that will stop the nausea is the Dexamethasone... it definitely works wonderfully. Of course, along with taking the Dex comes the headaches... but I much prefer headaches to nausea and wondering if I'm going to be vomiting every 10 minutes (I didn't... but it felt that way). Here we are at Day 7.... and the nausea is gone (yayaya) and I'm very leery about the diarrhea. I did take the dog out to the back lane this morning ... which is/was the first time out of the apartment since Monday. I was lightheaded and a little on the dizzy side, but the nausea stayed away. I was thinking of making a trip out to the produce store and picking up some fresh apples to make homemade apple sauce. I seem to have a craving for that :) Also, I want an excuse to make myself get out of the apartment... so a little trip up the street with the car should do the trick :)

Meanwhile... I'm out of bed! LOL! I know I have a comfortable bedroom that I set up with all the comforts a gal could need IF she has to spend any time there... but for someone who is used to being out and about a lot, well, suffice it to say I'm glad I'm well enough to get out of the bedroom ;)

I am now going to be brave and poach an egg to have with toast. I don't know if I'm playing with danger here... but hey, sometimes you just have to be dangerous :) :)

I've heard of Ipeca... not sure where I've seen it, maybe a health food store? I will definitely track this down and get some. I couldn't tell you if the anti-nausea meds contributed to feeling horrible or not... I was too sick 24/7 to notice... other than I do know the Dex was my saviour. And no, contrary to popular belief it did not keep me awake at night. Also, I think I've mentioned this before about how I love how the Dex is a wonder steroid for my arthritis... I haven't had to take any arthritis pain meds since using the Dex.

Well, wish me well... first project, poached egg and toast. Second project, shower and getting dressed. After that we'll see if I can actually get out of the apartment :)


Lovekitties's picture
Posts: 3362
Joined: Jan 2010

when there was actually a soda fountain at the drug store, we would ask for a bottle of coke cola syrup.

Today you can't get it that way, but have taken regular coke cola warm, added a little water and stir like crazy to get the fizz out. Sipping that seems to help with the nausea.

And the syrup we got was of the refined receipe...after they figured out that cocaine was addictive...lol.

Hope the treatments get easier.


Marie who loves kitties

CherylHutch's picture
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Funny you should mention that, Marie. When my ex had severe food poisoning (bad crab), I got scared and called the Poison Control dept. at the hospital and the advice they gave me all those years ago was, the best thing for food poisoning and the vomiting was coca cola. Get as much coca cola into the patient as possible. Now they didn't mention about the syrup, but said coca cola is the best beverage with the highest salt and sugar content. When someone is vomiting then they are losing their bodily fluids a lot quicker than they are replacing them... so it's important to get the salt/sugar/fluid back in as fast as possible. One needs to replace the electrolytes that you lose.

Of course, food poisoning/vomiting is quite different than chemo-related nausea/vomiting. But, the end results are that we lose fluid, hence the dehydration... and it all gets quite nasty.

I have wonderful friends/neighbours in the building who are the best caregivers. My friend, Toby, who lives across the hall, made sure I was stocked with beverages (as well, she takes total control over the dog and her walks, etc). 3 other neighbours were on standby to run any kind of errands, or if I needed food to be made. Ha! That was the last thing, but the fact I have such wonderful friends so close by is amazing and wonderful. My cleaning gal, who was over on Thursday, was the one who made up the tea of fresh ginger and orange peel... which is a wonderful, comforting way of getting some fluid in without feeling like it was going to come up after swallowing :)

I'm pretty sure this week is a one-off and now that my onc knows how rough it was... next one will be different. Plus, I definitely will look into some of these alternative suggestions.

Thanks all!


Posts: 3692
Joined: Oct 2009

I am so sorry you have had such a rough round. I hope you are feeling better soon.

abrub's picture
Posts: 2158
Joined: Mar 2010

I've gotten it many times. Also "Emetrol" is a cherry-flavored variant, but they are both essentially the same. It helps. You may have to ask the pharmacist, as it is often kept behind the counter, as they don't find it merits shelf space.

Good luck and feel better!

Posts: 35
Joined: Apr 2010

My husband is taking irinotecan also.
He takes emend & lomotil.
The only time he ever threw up was during one treatment when he did not take the emend.
He has also learned to take the lomotil at the very first sign of cramping.
It is much easier to stop the diarrhea before it gets started.


lisa42's picture
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

Hi Cheryl,

What a bummer that you've experienced such nausea. I can totally relate. Irinotecan made me throw up every time in spite of Emend, Zofran, and whatever else it was that they gave me. I tried everything. It got to the point where it was also mental and even thinking about going to get chemo made me feel ready to throw up & I'd arrive there feeling very nauseated before I even got any chemo. You want to try to nip it now because it can get progressively worse if not controlled. Right around the time I was feeling so desperate to get relief from the nausea, I ended up changing chemos anyhow due to tumor growth that showed up on a scan. Just prior to that, I actually went and got my medical mj card & took the edible form in a muffin (I was too paranoid to smoke it with three kids around, including a teen who had just gotten in trouble for smoking pot- mine was obviously a different situation but I still didn't want it around after that. It didn't really work that well for me either, so I just did it the one time).
I would definitely look into the Ipeca if I were you. I hadn't heard of it before & wonder if that would have helped me then. I think if it's natural and actually works, that it'd be less harmful on the body than a prescription anti nausea med. Also, the ginger slices in a water bottle sounds like a good plan.

Take care & it will hopefully be easier next time if you have the Emend in the IV.


CherylHutch's picture
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Believe it or not, we got the nausea under control with the Dexamethasone. Forget the ondasteron or the prescription gravol... it was the Dex that works like a charm on me. So by last Thursday, nausea was under control. Unfortunately it was the intestinal cramping and spasms that we didn't catch in time. Yes, I had been given a shot of Atropine before I left the chemo unit and that worked fine for the first two days. Then the diarrhea started, which I was told to ignore the directions on the Immodium box (chemo diarrhea is different than regular) and at the first sign of diarrhea to take two tablets, then two tablets each time after until it was under control. Well, this is where the dilemma came in... that did work as far as controlling the diarrhea and how often it happened, but did absolutely nothing for the intestinal cramping and spasms. Of course, at the time, when you are just feeling weak and miserable, you can't really tell if the cramping/spasms is diarrhea-related or nausea-related... so the Immodium was not touching the cramping/spasms. We switched yesterday to Lomotil and that worked like a charm, although I was at my absolute worst by the time I took the first double dose yesterday afternoon. I also took a Dex along with it and the combination of the two was like a wonder med. I slept through the night and woke up this morning clear headed, stronger and no spasms/cramping! I was thrilled!

I even managed to drink a full mug of chicken broth and a whole piece of toast! That is probably the most food I've had in the last 5 days or so. Of course, it is now 5 hours later, so the toast/broth has had time to get into the intestinal track and I"m hearing some pretty strange gurgling sounds and some twinges of cramping. So, I have taken another dose of Lomotil and we'll see if that kicks in... in which case, yes, I still need time to recover from some probably very inflamed intestines, but at least the meds are now kicking in and doing what they are meant to do.

As for the mj, I'm a firm believer that it works for some people really, really well for nausea (not so much for intestinal cramping/spasms, other than to relax you so you aren't quite so tense in pain). But the problem this time is... I didn't have the strength or energy to even try it! My neighbour makes cookies , so I might go that route... you only need a small piece. Of course, the problem there is, if you can't eat... solid food is not the answer.

Oh well... the above is the long and short of it for me and if there's any note to be taken from all of this is... if you are about to start a new chemo, prepare yourself for two scenerios. The very worst and the very best... chances are you will fall somewhere in between. Next go round, I will make sure I have a supply of the beverage "Coconut Water". There are many different brands of it, but it is one of the best (and natural) ways to rehydrate, especially if you can't hold food down. Coconut Water comes from the young coconut and is filled with nutrients, minerals and most important... potassium and electrolytes. It does not have any processed sugars or preservatives, so it's not like you are surviving on sugar water.

Also, for those days that I can eat... bananas! Bananas are very high in potassium (I think that's been mentioned a lot around here) and potassium is a wonderful anti-nausea ingredient.

Broth... the packages of broth I had on hand had all expired! So next time I will have a couple of different ones on hand... from chicken to beef and possibly even a vegetable broth. When you can't eat or hold anything down, but you do know you have to drink so you don't dehydrate, sometimes it's down to just sipping (rather than outright drinking a glass at a time). So having a hot broth not only gets more fluid in you... it also gives you salt which you have lost copious amounts of if you've had to vomit or had diarrhea. I also found the broth was comforting in that, although there was nothing solid about it, it felt like soup and fooled the brain into thinking I had eaten so obviously was not hungry.

Last but I'm sure not least... making a homebrew of ginger tea. Perhaps this isn't tea per se since we didn't use tea leaves. Put peel a chunk of fresh ginger and roughly chop it. Put it in a pot. Peel an orange... and put those peelings in the pot with the ginger chunks. You can even roughly chop up half an apple and throw that into the pot. Add 2-3 cups of water (it doesn't matter how much because you can always add more as the water boils down). Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat down and just simmer. You can even turn the heat down to the lowest setting so it just keeps it warm. Pour a cup of this into a mug, leaving the chunks and peels in the pot. This is the most soothing drink when you just don't feel like anything. The ginger is slightly spicey, but not spicey enough that it is going to irritate anything... yet that very same ginger spice is what soothes the nausea.

I'm thinking what I might do is make a decent batch of the above ingredients, divide it up into baggies, and throw the baggies in the freezer. That way, when one is feeling miserable and knows this tea would be soothing, I can just take a baggie out of the freezer, empty it into a pot, throw in some water and boil.

Ok... there are my suggestions... but now, I think it's time to go lie down for a bit again :) Ta ta for now!


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