Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Compliments & little Treasures.

Yesterday I rocked the completely bald look for the first time. The night before last I asked Cam to shave my "Chemo Fluff." He was more than happy to do to a wet shave and even took the opportunity to shave a lightning bolt into my hair haha it's not there now but it was a laugh. Anyway I was a little bit apprehensive about going out in public completely bald. I have confidence and while I dont always like the way I look, I feel happy with the the way I look most of the time. I have just experienced the stares, the awkward glances and smiles - and that was when I had at least a little bit of hair on my head!!! So i was a little unsure as to how things would go but I was ready for the stares. It sounds so ridiculous that I would even care what people think but its always in the back of my mind. I was meeting Cam for lunch. Hes fantastic and when ever we see people stare he always says something along the lines of "It's ok Basil (his nickname for me.) They are just admiring your beauty." Such a charmer he is and it always makes me feel better. Lunch went off without a hitch and I only received a few awkward smiles.

I had to go get some bloods done before chemo, which is happening on Thursday this week because of the Public holiday on Wednesday. As I was leaving the hospital a lovely lady on crutches was coming towards me and she smiled at me and said "Oh!! You are just beautiful." I awkwardly smiled and said thanks and scuttled away quickly with my head down. Really I wanted throw my arms around her and give her a big hug but instead I just walked away. It made all my little insecurities disappear, made my heart grow x10 and left the biggest smile on my face. This got me thinking, why do we not compliment each other more often? By each other, I mean stranger to stranger. Your parents, friends and partner may compliment you all the time, as you do to them and that is amazing but why dont we make more of an effort with people that we dont know. I thought about it and I came back to how I felt initially when the lady complimented me. I felt awkward, as I didn't know what to say back. She was beautiful too and I wish I had said that!!! I found a quote that pretty much sums it up for me and I am sure for some of you too.

"I can take criticisms but not compliments."
James Taylor

We need to learn how to embrace compliments and feel good instantly, rather than awkward. Us kiwis are too tough and need to soften up from time to time and tell people they look good. I challenge you to compliment one stranger this week. Maybe you like their bag, dress, shirt or maybe you just really like their face!! Tell them!! If you cant quite make the leap and compliment a stranger, compliment a friend. Doesn't even have to be to their face. You could text or send an email. Just let someone know something that you like about them. If we each received and gave a compliment each week, the world would be a better place. Do it and let the warm fuzzies flow!!

Has been an interesting week following chemo. My forgetful mind has gotten worse and I truly feel at times that my brain isn't mine and is in fact a 90 year old woman's!! I can be mid sentence and forget what I am talking about. I have forgotten my own family members names. Its just crazy!! The old attention span hasn't been great either. I set myself a goal for the day and the hours just fly by and I am left feeling frustrated as I havent achieved half of what I wanted too. On saturday morning I had another funny turn. Leading up to Saturday I had waves of nausea and sweats. Felt very lightheaded and had to take a moment to sit down to get my body together. I woke up on Saturday and lay awake for a while. I needed to go to the loo, so I got up to go. I got to the door and put my hand around the door frame to open it. Before I could pull it open I fainted forward and my head hit the door shut with my fingers still wrapped around the door frame. Seriously what kind of a situation is that!!! As I slumped against the door, it woke Cam up (THANK GOODNESS) and he said "Basil are you ok?" By this stage I was awake again and had stood up right. I turned to say that I had fainted and before I could I fainted again!! Luckily Cam was awake because he caught me before I smacked my head on his bed side cabinet. It gave him quite a fright poor guy. It completely took me by surprise because I didn't feel light headed, nauseas or hot. I felt completely normal.SO back to bed it was for me!! I literally stayed in bed all day and rested. I gave my nurse a call on Monday to let her know what had happend. She thinks that I may have had a drop in blood pressure. I had bloods done today to check everything. We will see!!!

I have been meaning to do this next segment of the post for a while. I have finally got round to doing it. I wanted to share with you all my little treasures that help with feeling good throughout chemo. Some have been things that have been passed down to me by others who have gone through the same thing and other things are what I have found works for myself. I thought it would be worth while doing incase anyone knows of someone who is going through Chemo and these things may help them in some way!

Ok so numero uno! I have found my skin gets extremely dry and distressed - No matter how much water I drink! I was extremely spoilt by some lovely friends in Wellington who sent me down an Evolu package. It was full of goodies, each of which I have used! The products are amazing and I definitely recommend the products to anyone who is going through chemo or anyone for that matter who has dry skin. Check out their website here.

2: Ok so I have expressed my lack of bowel movements in the previous blogs. Its a horrible side effect that comes with chemo and I seriously CANT WAIT to poo properly. I have found that Benefiber has worked a treat. Its a powder and I put two teaspoons into water each morning. It is delicious also! This definitely helps keep things going down there. For a while there Kiwi Crush did the trick but unfortunately for me it stopped working. I would still definitely recommend it to people to try. If things get really desperate for you, you can get these tablets from the chemist called Coloxyl which work really well too! Any of these options are great, I have just found the Benefiber and Coloxyl work best for me.

3. Hydration is SO important. Especially when having chemo. I found even though I was drinking lots, I never felt hydrated. A lady said to Mum that I should try Shotz - Electrolyte Tablets. They help hydrate you. I have found the lemon taste a little icky but really if it does the trick, Im not going to complain.

4: Another Evolu product. Along with my skin, my lips get really dry. The Evolu lip treatment is amazing!!!

I forgot to photograph the product that I have found has REALLY helped with the mouth ulcers I get following chemo. My partners Mum found this product and it is amazing. Instant relief and while it hurts like a mother when you apply it, the ulcers clear up within a day. Enough at least so you can eat without discomfort. The product is Weleda - Calendula Essence. I strongly recommend all of the products I have mentioned above. Im not gonna lie, Chemo is shit....but these products help with the little niggles and pains you experience following each treatment.

A few other things that I want to mention are:

  • Paint your nails. Like everything else, Your nails show the strain your body is under and keeping them painted helps disguise this. Personally it makes me feel good. Do it yourself but definitely treat yourself from time to time with a manicure!! Its the little things that make the difference :)
  • Like I have mentioned before, I find my eating habits really irregular. I have found eating when ever I feel hungry, no matter what time of the day it is, is the best way to get some food in my system. I have found that a handful of nuts and dried apricots to be the best thing and help me feel full for longer. Also a lot of fruit. I crave salty, fatty foods and while it is ok to have these foods every so often, its important to not slip into the habit of eating them all the time because its fast and convenient. Try to be as healthy as possible. It really goes without saying that you will feel better for it. 
  • Water, water, water!! Drink lots of it. If your like me, water gets a little old. I have found the iced tea made by Teza to be a yummy alternative. You can find them in most supermarkets in the chilled drinks section and I think they are around $2 something per drink. So refreshing and is such a tasty change to water! I have also found that drinking lemonade during treatment, helps with the disgusting taste you get from the drugs. It helps soften the taste anyway. Lemonade always makes you feel better!! I am also lucky that the Nurses give me lemonade ice blocks while I have chemo to help with my mouth discomfort. A nice wee treat and one I am grateful for.

I hope that I have helped at least one person with my wee treasures and tricks. Please pass them on to anybody that may need a little advise with the different side effects. You really dont know whats going to work for you until you try it.

Chemo tomorrow. Another one down! Another step closer to being able to say "I am a Cancer Survivor." Oh yes, it will feel so good to say that. I simply cant wait. I hope you have all taken at least a little bit of time to remember our brave ANZAC Soldiers. Lest we forget. Special mention to my Late Poppa who fixed and flew planes during the war. He has been on my mind today.  A.x