For about the last 24 hours now, I’ve been singing “constipation will destroy ya”, to the theme of Paranoia Will Destroy Ya. It turns out that cancer treatment and the road to discovery about life, meaning, usefulness etc, is not always full of beautiful philosophy and thoughtful words.
Some of it sucks.
The hair falling out part actually doesn’t suck like this does—hair falls out. We know that. It grows back—probably (the head radiation is new for me and I’m not sure what my future hirsuteness actually contains at my dosages)—but it’s months from now, so there’s no point in worrying or fretting. Enjoy the fascination of pulling, and let it go (although I’ve been pulling it out and dropping it on the floor, to pick it up when I’m bored, and Hoover this morning was way too interested in what was going on. That was a bit gross, having him snuffling around at my hairy feet).
Anyway, it is one of the drawbacks of the fast-acting Western prescription medications that they can be so effective in some ways (seriously, overnight with the thrush, within 15 minutes with the antinausea), and yet their effectiveness is . . . not really compromised, because they are effective . . . but rather enhanced by lots and lots of side effects. And one of the enhancements, for me at least, seems to have been constipation.
Last week I had a day where I got rid of a lot, and boy was it a relief, and I had high hopes for a turned corner. But then it became clear that it wasn’t the beginning of a new practice—I had another couple days when I didn’t get rid of anything. I can tell, too—not only can I not feel my hipbones when I lie on my stomach and they theoretically press into the floor; I can’t even feel them when I lie on my back in bed, because of the curve of my lower abs.
Now, if I weren’t hungry, this would be much less of a problem. But I am hungry. My stomach is fine—it empties like usual into my bowls, and growls, and the dexamethazone helps it insist on regular feedings . . . but then things kind of stop. I am a bit gassy still—I know there’s a modicum of activity going on down there—but it’s nothing like the oh-so-longed-for days of morning regularity.
Yesterday was truly torture. Yesterday was two or three days after the last release, and it was time. My body knew it was time. My brain knew it was time. My husband, hearing my moaning before he was able to escape to work, knew it was time. But oh, the sphincter didn’t want to help. Things were plugged up down there, and it took as much force of will as force of muscle, over a period of about an hour, to actually get anything to happen. When it did, it was two days’ worth at least, and clogged the toilet (not, thankfully, to overflowing). But it was a hard job. I sat, and moaned, and cried, and sweated (more than I have in months), and ached, and knew that I simply had to get through it. I even went so far as to bring my decaf latte—a last resort for softening things up—into the bathroom with me (normally: food in bathroom=serious yuck).
The relief was beatific, however. Angels sang, the rain turned to golden light streaming in my windows, the dogs came to my feet as lambs and writhed in a frenzy of exultant joy. I basked for hours, until I ate again and felt my belly start to bulge.
I do have some options for dealing with this. It does seem that, for the time being at least, I am free from actual blockages—things are just slow. So I’ve been taking high doses of Senna, of Colace, of Milk of Magnesia and Miralax. I eat a lot of prunes, drink a lot of grape juice and hot water with lemon, and try to focus on fresh fruits and veggies. This morning I didn’t feel nauseated when I woke up, so I chose not to take my Zofran, which ultimately is probably the way to go.
Ian pointed out that, out of all that could be bad and wrong about what I’m going through right now, this constipation is a bit ironic, and he’s right. The simplest things can lay you low.