The Other Side Effects

When we went in for Dave’s consult appointment, we were told several different times that he would experience “flu like symptoms” for about five days following the procedure.  When he opted to treat the whole liver at once, that time frame bumped up to “up to two weeks”.  A few days preceding his treatment, Dave had a phone consult with one of the nurses.  She optimistically told him that he would feel better in five days.  And he clung to this information.  

When day five arrived yesterday, he was so down in the dumps.  The pain has been steadily decreasing with each day.  However, the nausea has suddenly reared its ugly head.  So on the day he believed he would be feeling better, he felt crappy.  This disappointment spawned a series of other emotions like frustration, anger and depression.  No one really talks to you about these side effects but they are as real as the nausea, fatigue and pain. 

I am fluctuating between sympathetic mutterings “That sucks. Is there anything I can get you?”, silence, and cheerleading “Think of the end result!  It must be doing its job!”  I think that our health care professionals could do a better job discussing the emotional side effects.  If your doctor tells you “Hey, you are going to be pissed off because you feel so lousy.  You are going to be irritable and at times just downright depressed.  That’s all normal.” at least you would recognize it as part of the process and could be treated just like you are treated if you call to report any physical symptoms.  It’s just a small indicator of the state of our mental health care system.  We should be doing better.




19 thoughts on “The Other Side Effects

  1. Pingback: INKBLOT MASCARA | hastywords

  2. Robyn, I remember someone told me before surgery that I was going to feel hopeless right after surgery, like I’m never going to get better. That helped me so much, because I could just tell myself when I DID feel that, “I’m just psychotic right now. This is why I feel this way. It will get better.” I never thought about the fact that it was a lay person who told me that, not the doctor. They do seem to skip over that important part.

  3. Wow Robyn! I feel for all of you. I am so sorry ! That’s an awful ordeal and I pray to be over soon.
    I would like to provide a dinner for you guys. When do you think Dave will be back at work? I can deliver it to Hayfield or your home. Please let me know what day is best for you.
    Continue to stay strong and keep focusing at the light at the end of the tunnel!

    • hi yanna,

      dave went to work today! but it took a lot out of him. i think he will go in tomorrow for a bit and hopefully will be back in the swing of things next week.

      we will always be happy to accept your yummy spanikopita!


  4. Wow, what an incredibly important point! It’s amazing how so much of the “mind over matter” business is only one-sided, so “if you *think* you will feel better, then you *will*”
    What a horrible thing to be blind-sided by difficult emotions when it easily could have been discussed in advance.

  5. I know exactly what you’re going through. Right after my husband’s surgery, he actually tried to make me so miserable that I would leave him. He thought he was doing me a favor, that’s how depressed he was.

    I have a few words of advice. One, treat it like a real psychological illness. “Situational” depression is real, and treating those side effects is as reasonable as treating nausea. Two, keep in mind that sometimes it’s the drugs that you don’t think of- steroids for swelling can cause all sorts of irritability.

    And last of all, remember not to give up. As hard as it is, you’re winning. And that’s what’s most important. ❤

  6. Thank you for such a honest and important post. You are right, it would be so helpful if medical professionals told us what to expect not just physically but emotionally. After all the body and mind are really connected. Sending good thoughts to you and your husband on your difficult journey.

  7. Hang in there. Lean on people. Get help for both of you. When my husband was recovering from his illness he was irritable and it was eye opening to me. He’s the world’s easiest going individual. Or he used to be.

    Hang in there. Good for you for speaking out because reality is what we need to see, not the rainbows and unicorns. Life is already challenging when dealing with stuff like this and added stress is not what you need.

    • luckily we have access to a wonderful organization called “life with cancer”. they provide support in areas that the oncology practice does not thru counseling, massage, reiki, music therapy etc. but we have not made full use of it like we should. this is a good reminder to do so.

  8. Oh so true. I agree so wholeheartedly. It is very difficult to know what to say when loved ones go through this, other than to express love. There should be lots of resources for the emotional support people as well as for the patients. The medical community too often sees us as numbers rather than humans. Wishing you and your husband well.

    • thank you. i think that the medical community is very focused on their mission of curing (or at least slowing down) the disease that they forget there is a person there too. when we went on our couples retreat last october that was one of the revelations that the nurses who organized the event experienced. they were literally moved to tears when they realized how little focus there is on the mental/emotional/personal aspect.

  9. Thank you so much for portraying the reality of cancer behind the side effects listed in studies or in articles. It’s so critical to have a medical support team that recognizes that patients need psychological support as well as medical treatment.

    • it really IS the reality of cancer. the physical side effects are readily discussed but i don’t find much about the emotional turmoil families go through. my hope is that our experiences can help someone else somewhere along the line.

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