I really think this is an important post. What I thought I'd do is list all the side effects that I suffered during my stem cell transplant (SCT) but before I start there is something I need to say. This won't be a pretty post, some of these side effects were not fun. I don't want to dissuade people from thinking about having the procedure though. In hind sight, if I was where I was six months ago, even knowing what I know now I would do it again. To me beating the disease is far more important than a couple of months of discomfort.
However, I think that the most important thing is to be informed and I hope that my experiences will give people that are about to go through the procedure an idea of what to expect. Honestly, anyone that has a stem cell transplant cannot expect it to be a walk in the park, but one thing I kept telling myself through the procedure and this saying has relevance to many is, "I'm not doing this because it is easy, I'm doing it because it is worth it."
Right now I'm at the end of the SCT and it is all about recovery for me now but here are my list of side effects. Please bare in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of all side effect for anyone having an SCT or being treated by cytoxan. These are the side effects I experienced.
Hair loss - No surprises here. This is one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy. This one really didn't bother me. I felt like I was channeling Vin Diesel;) Another plus is that I haven't had to shave my face in four weeks and I still look like I had a run in with the cold steel this morning. On the down side, sorry ladies, the hair loss seems to work from the top down. The hairs on my legs have not gone anywhere.
Nausea and Vomiting - Another very common side effect. However, it is unrelenting with chemo. It took the whole range of anti-nausea medications to subdue this one, and it has taken more than two weeks for me to get even some of my appetite back.
Saliva build up - I got heaps of saliva building up in my mouth. If I didn't spit it out I would vomit.
Bad tastes - Post transplant I got a horrible, soapy, fragrant taste in my mouth like I'd been chewing on roses. This lasted for about three days.
Dizziness - Throughout the whole procedure I felt dizzy and I still do, but it is getting better every day.
Rash - I got a rash after transplant. The doctors biopsied it and tested it but I wasn't really worried as it didn't hurt or itch. It was later diagnosed as folliculitis.
Low blood pressure - And I mean really low. A combination of the drugs, procedure and mild dehydration led me to having a BP of 75/47. I even passed out. You can read that story here.
Fever - I think it was day +3 they took my temperature and I was running a fever of 100.4F. I was surprised as I did not feel like I had a fever but the thermometer does not lie. Some tylenol and antibiotics did the trick and I was fine.
Nasty poos - I did not have diarrhoea and I was not constipated but I had awful poos for the duration of the transplant. They were sticky which made them hard to evacuate and clean up afterwards. Chemo attacks the lining of the whole intestinal tract from mouth to anus so I think this had something to do with it. They also burned fiercely like I had just the night before battled the force 10 vindaloo at Mr Singh's Curry House of Pain.
PICC line pain. It didn't hurt while it was in. It didn't hurt for the first four days after extraction. But it hurts now. I think this is normal though.
Well, I think that's about it. I hope I haven't grossed you all out too much but I think it is important to give all the facts so people can make informed decisions. Until next time, stay well:)