Stomach Pain

Healthy and green and home grown.

Healthy and green and home grown.

Another side effect of chemo that we weren’t ready for was stomach issues. Over the course of the treatments my husband’s problems with his stomach have increased from periodic to now persistent – without let up. I was speaking with a long time friend about it and she said “oh yes, he needs acidophilus for the entire course of his treatment.” The chemotherapy doesn’t just kill good and bad cells, it also kills the good bacteria/flora in your gut – obviously this is a contributing factor to stomach and intestinal discomfort.

So what options are there?  I was fortunate to be on the phone with a well informed  and knowledgeable practitioner of reflexology, reiki and brain gym.  She’s been using natural remedies for as long as I have known her – which is going on 30 years.  Right off the top she suggested BIO-K® (argh! I hate using brand names, but this one is Canadian and apparently this product is quite effective) which is a fermented milk.  We chatted about a few other ways to get the good bacteria re-established in his gut; all of the items we spoke about were in the health food store when I went there later.  So today I came home with a tub of Kefir (for use in smoothies) , a papain supplement (which I need to check out with the Oncology department – it has a warning about a potential interaction with blood thinners) and the BIO-K+ ®.

There were a few other foods that may help to get his tummy back on track.  Brown rice, kale and lentils are considered excellent foods that I will incorporate (in moderation) into our regular diet to support intestinal health.  With the help of the internet I found an awesome sausage, kale and lentil soup recipe that will be hitting my table in the very near future.

So far in this journey through cancer, my husband has experienced many and varied health challenges including: upset stomach, a blood clot, purpura, petechiae, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, constipation, headaches, change of taste, breathing related issues, modifications to his pre-existing medications that caused high then low blood pressure, and pain management.  I suspect I may have missed something in there but you get the idea.  His spirit and resilience is remarkable.  I have such an immense respect for him and for all cancer patients, this disease is merciless, throwing its victims on a path fraught with peril and challenge and full of unknowns.   The Canadian Cancer Society website states: “About 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetimes and 1 in 4 will die of the disease.” (Extracted Oct 14, 2014 from ttp:// )  Simply put, it could have been me taking  this journey but for the luck of the draw.  I, for one, plan on changing our diet to include some preventive foods and will continue my quest for knowledge of this disease.



The Blood Clot and the Injection

This is a preloaded injection that is given daily in treatment of the bloodclot.

This is a preloaded injection that is given daily in treatment of the blood clot.

Part of the ongoing treatment for the blood clot my husband has in his leg is a daily injection of dalteparin sodium (trade name of Fragmin®).  Same time every day, likely for the balance of his chemo treatment and maybe a bit beyond.  Every day a needle to his belly.  He could use another part of his body, but he already uses his thigh for his insulin injection, so the belly is pretty much his only choice.   And in case you haven’t seen it the preloaded  Fragmin® needle is not a small needle, it’s big.  Needless to say it hurts but the benefit it provides outweighs the pain.  He needs the injection but do we have other choices as to how it is delivered?

Today I had to renew his prescription and I called in to the Pharmacist.  I inquired about the size of the needle for the preloaded Fragmin®.  The Pharmacist stated that with the preloaded syringes it only comes in the one needle size.  As an alternative the Pharmacist indicated that we can get a vial of the Fragmin® and load (draw up) our own injections, and if we do, then we can select a smaller size needle.  Some people may not be comfortable with drawing up their own injections, but in our case this is absolutely the way we will go.  We have to try it to determine if a smaller needle will reduce some of the pain and discomfort associated with the injection.

This is where consumer feedback to the manufacturer is needed.  First of all, why can’t they preload a number of doses into a single pen in the same manner as insulin?  This would save on packaging as well as allow people to select their preferred needle tips.  Hell,  they can develop their own tips and make more money on the product even.  Secondly, has anyone at the manufacturer injected themselves in the belly with this needle just to understand the degree of discomfort associated with it?  I suspect they trialled it and assessed the drug for its effectiveness – not the delivery mechanism.  However, if the present administration of the drug causes pain that can be alleviated through a product adjustment, such as the delivery mechanism (in this case the needle and syringe), then the manufacturer should be responsive to consumer needs.  Obviously this is one suggestion that I will be forwarding to the manufacturers at Fragmin® in the immediate future.