When every day is a bad hair day; Fall essentials when you’re on Oxaliplatin

It’s Saturday, 94 days ATN and 54 days into chemo. At least I think it is.

On Thursday I spent most of the day thinking it was Friday. After walking to Costco I stopped by McDonald’s and was wondering why Free Fries Friday wasn’t showing up in the app. Oh well. I really just wanted some iced tea (with no ice – the woes of Oxaliplatin) anyway… Then later in the evening I walked across the street to Safeway for $5 Friday. I couldn’t find any of the items I was interested in, which wasn’t all that surprising since this Safeway sometimes runs out. What was odd was that there weren’t even any $5 Friday signs. Shrug. Oh well, I didn’t really need them that badly. I returned home and started planning a day trip to Antioch to see if I could pull in the Sacramento NextGen TV signal from there. Looking at the forecast I saw that Sunday it’d be cooler and a good candidate. Good – I have one day to figure out how to mount an antenna on top of my car. Then at around 9 PM I was adding a Monday lunch to my calendar and…what, it’s THURSDAY the 14th?

I’m attributing this to chemo-brain of course! I’m about half-way through systemic chemo now. By the end I’ll be lucky if I remember which month it is!

When every day is a bad hair day

I was really looking forward to not having to cut my hair as a result of chemo. I mean when you think chemo you think bald, right? Well apparently my hair hasn’t taken kindly to my desire to be rid of it and is currently in full rebellion. It takes some doing each morning so I don’t look like like some crazed lunatic you should stay away from. (Hmmm…with COVID maybe I should go out with that look…) Sigh. I might have to seek professional help from a Supercuts stylist soon. There are only a couple that are able to deal with my hair when its in a more cooperative mode. And even then they mumble about how I have lots of thick hair and a double cowlick.

Actually, reading about others’ hair issues with FOLFOX apparently a lot of things can happen. Some people lose body hair “from the eyebrows down” but not head hair (I’d settle for facial hair – at least then I could stop shaving.) Some have hair thinning. Some have their head hair go from curl to straight, and others go the other way around. Now that’d be something if I had curly hair. Actually I wonder if that’s what my hair is currently attempting (and failing miserably at). Now here’s something – some people had their hair get darker. I could go for that given that I have lots of grey at the moment!

Fall essentials when you’re on Oxaliplatin

Fall officially arrived a couple weeks ago and here in the Bay Area the days are getting noticeably shorter by the day and the temperature has been falling. In the morning the kitchen is a pleasant 63 degrees. At least most of me enjoys that temperature. My hands and feet have gone renegade with the Oxaliplatin and consider it Too Cold. I have no doubt that in the coming days there’ll be a time when it warms up into the high 60s I’ll be sitting in front of a fan wearing a t-shirt and shorts. And very thick socks and gloves.

Here are some Fall “essentials” when you’re undergoing Oxaliplatin chemotherapy…

House Slippers. With the cool mornings I start getting that pins & needles feeling after walking on the hardwood for several seconds. Now if I had known that I’d be undergoing Oxaliplatin chemotherapy when I bought this house 24 years ago I might’ve had heated hardwood floors installed. And if installing it didn’t cost an arm and a leg I might actually consider installing it now. But since I don’t have spare arms or legs at the moment, I’ve found house slippers to be a comfortable way to get around. Invest in a good pair if you have hardwood or tile flooring. Your feet will thank you (or at least stop torturing you!)

Gloves. Even if it’s summer you’ll need gloves to get anything out of the refrigerator or freezer in the days following an infusion. These particular gloves are touchscreen-compatible. (No my current fridge isn’t a smart-fridge with a touchscreen. If it did it’d be throwing a fit about the bag of mango chunks I bought three years ago but keep forgetting to throw out…) It’s nice to be able to use my phone and iPad without taking the gloves off, and as the weather’s gotten cooler I’m finding myself wearing them more often (and not just in the kitchen).

The Ember Mug. This is probably the most awesome thing I’ve bought all year. You can precisely control the temperature with an app on your phone. For me, 125 degrees is the perfect temperature to avoid Oxaliplatin-induced cold sensitivity in my throat while not being too hot to drink. (Actually around 110 degrees might be better, but the app won’t allow a temperature below 125). It has a battery and heating element built into the mug, so the one downside is that you can’t put it in the microwave to heat things up initially. But once you pour your hot beverage into it a fully charged mug can keep it warm for two to three hours. JT doesn’t see the utility in the Ember and believes that a microwave works just as well to reheat your cold coffee or tea. For me that would mean going downstairs periodically and braving that seemingly ice-cold floor. Trust me – if you’re undergoing Oxaliplatin chemo (or even if you’re not and just like hot beverages) this is one thing you’ve just Got To Get. (I am with JT in that I don’t know why my mug needs to have an Ember account to work…maybe at some point it’ll start sending spam emails. As long as its a reminder to eat spam with my breakfast I suppose that’d be ok.)

Macadamia Nuts. Ok so this really has nothing to do with it being Fall, but one of my cousins was kind enough to send a box from Hawaii, including my favorite Maui Onion & Garlic Macadamias. These are far better than the Kirkland ones I’d gotten from Costco. I’ve substituted macadamia nuts for the Colace I’d been recommended to take on days 1 – 3 each cycle since they are known to promote digestion and relieve constipation. My oncologist enthusiastically approved and noted that nuts have nutritional value as well. (I should point out that while macadamia nuts usually have a mild laxative effect, some people actually get constipated. So I’d suggest trying it out in a non-critical part of a chemo cycle and seeing how your body reacts 🙂.)

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