Ototoxicity – it’s a big fancy word that I am learning a lot about this week. In short, some chemotherapy drugs can damage your inner ear which ultimately leads to a hearing loss (ototoxicity means “ear poisoning”). And in every situation where chemotherapy ototoxic drugs are discussed, it states “Cisplatin, and other chemotherapy drugs” which shows you where Cisplatin falls on the risk scale. Carboplatin is also an ototoxic drug and I’ve had a lot of that, so it’s not surprising I do have some hearing loss. Dr. B referred me to an ENT doctor, so this week I had a hearing test and a follow-up meeting with the ENT to discuss my level of deafness. In short, I have the hearing of a 70-year old. It’s not like it was surprising to me – I struggle in many situations, but I’ve just flat refused to do anything about it because I’m in my 50’s. But in the end, it isn’t going to get BETTER, and the longer you put off hearing aids when you need them, the less effective they will be. I didn’t know that before, but he explained the science and it makes total sense. So, next week I have a consult with an audiologist and will select hearing aids and pray that insurance will cover at least SOME of the cost since it is from chemotherapy damage. Also I have to go back every month for a re-check to be sure it isn’t creating too much of a problem. If it looks like I’m headed to the 80- or 90-year old level, Dr. B will likely replace it with some other drug. After all, this isn’t a life saving measure for me – it’s insurance.
I don’t love it. And I’m worried about how it will impact singing in a chorus. But there’s really nothing I can do about it. So the chemotherapy saved my life and I need hearing aids because of it. Would you trade perfect hearing for your life? Every. Single. Time. End of discussion.
Tomorrow is my second infusion with these drugs. I gotta say, it wasn’t my favorite. We enjoyed our time at the beach, but I was definitely feeling the impact. It’s such a balancing game between nausea, constipation, and diarrhea (keeping my commitment to “keep it real” here), with side effects from chemo and side effects from the drugs used to help offset side effects… On any given day, I am guaranteed some level of discomfort, at least until I find the right cocktail of medicine to help alleviate it. And lately, I have the most horrible terrible awful case of the piles (it sounds so much better than the alternative and more familiar terminology). I’ve been through all the solutions and treatments and have my ups and downs with it, but listen, that is some real pain. And you know, just one more damn thing. It’s how I feel some days, just one more thing. But you know what it’s not? Cancer. That’s what. (But I definitely don’t recommend googling “hemorrhoids” and “cancer”. Don’t do it.)
So that’s about it for this update… deaf with the piles, and maybe headed for bald again too. But I’m cancer-free. I’m not gonna lie – some days it’s harder to keep coming back to “but I’m cancer-free”. I’m looking forward to days that don’t have that “but” in front of them. Right now, it’s still there. And then I feel guilty complaining about it because I should just be grateful that I’m alive. And I am. But I’m surely ready to get back to a better overall quality of life!