in addition to what Dave said,
you'll likely get Benadryl with the Rituxan, as the later causes
severe allergic reactions in many patients, worst the first time. But
after I had my first dose and subsequent reaction (plummeting blood
pressure with extreme dizziness which the nurses handled like
clockwork), benadryl was part of my regimen, and it caused me to fall
asleep. So if you don't have really nice chemo-loungers, bring a
pillow, and the type people use on an airplane, the ones that wrap
around your neck, might be good.
CHOP causes nausea. Therefore, you'll likely get Kytril with it.
Kytril is the best. Very expensive stuff, and the pill form, Zofran,
was prescribed somewhat sparingly. With the rituxan first, your CHOP
will be later in the day, and so will the Kytril. That usually was
enough to get me through the night with no discomfort. That meant I
started my 6 Zofran pills the next
morning (2 days worth), which was better than running out at lunch. My
experience was the first two days are definitely the worst for nausea,
and with the Kytril/Zofran combo, were no big deal. Some have weaker
stomachs, but I never barfed throughout my chemos. However, my second
or third CHOP, probably day 3, I didn't take the Compazine (the
cheaper stuff that followed the Zofran) before dinner and paid dearly.
Follow Dave's advice and don't fall behind on your doses! It's way
harder to catch up if nausea has set in. For me, it was akin to a
really bad hangover but without the headache.
When I had my chemo and transplant at Stanford, they didn't prescribe
Zofran nor compazine. Instead they believed that Ativan, an
anti-anxiety med, worked best. I was highly skeptical, but it did
work, and worked without all the "noise" of Compazine (which
zoned me out). So ask your onc about that. Zofran comes in a version
that dissolves under the tongue, very helpful if you feel you might
toss. Same with Ativan. Under the tongue gets into your blood within
minutes. It's amazing. But the Zofran is expensive and some of these
choices are made (unfortunately) by your insurance coverage.
My experience with eating was some things tasted a bit weird, but I
enjoyed food nearly as much on chemo as before. Everyone is different.
Prednisone is a really powerful steroid, and it does what most/all
steroids do: messes with your moods. Emotionally, I was way more
likely to get extremely triggered the week on P, including irrational
anger, sorrow, etc. It makes your face flush and look puffy. Also
increases your appetite. Most importantly, it keeps you awake, so it's
best to take your second dose as
soon as possible after your chemo day. For instance, I'd not get done
with chemo until 4pm. Then to Walgreens to get my meds (new scrip
every time) so first day's dose was at dinner. I'd still take day two
at breakfast, not at dinner. Even then, you may need Ambien (sleep
drug of choice, though I believe something new is becoming available
now or soon) the week of chemo.
Your nurses in the chemo room will tell you most of this stuff. They
may mention chemo brain. It's real. You get really stupid on chemo.
Can't remember ANYTHING. Several other people I spoke to say it takes
at least 6 months after completion to sort of get back to normal. Most
of us agree we were sharper before, but then we would be sharper when
younger in any case. If you go out to your car and can't find your
keys, go back inside and look in your hand. That's where I usually
found mine, though sometimes they were in my pocket.
I never had anyone drive me anywhere, but your results may differ.
Definitely don't drive on Benadryl, but if that's before the rituxan
and before the CHOP, it may be no big deal. I never wanted a visitor
with me, as I often slept, day-dreamt, meditated, etc and having
someone talking to me didn't make me feel better. I'd usually say,
"Hope you'll excuse me but I need to sleep now" to the
patient that was chatty. Once again, you may have a different
experience and different needs.
Guess that's enough. Good luck! Dave's right, it's not nearly as bad
as the movies make it out. At least for me it hasn't been.
Mark (CA) (originally posted on nhl-follic support
mixed cell follicular NHL stage 4
Dx 4/01 Tx 6/01-1/02 CVP x2, CHOP+Rituxan x8
technically "complete" remission 2/02
autologous peripheral stem cell transplant 6/12/02, CR