Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Silver Lining

Over ten years ago, my mom started to notice that her eyes were getting very dry and scratchy. Then, she started having trouble with an extremely dry mouth. Even her nose started to become uncomfortably dry. Based on her symptoms, her nurse practitioner suspected Sjogrens syndrome and sent her to a rheumatologist to confirm the diagnosis. Sure enough, the NP was correct and cut my mom's time to diagnosis from an average of 7 years to 1.

Sjogrens is an autoimmune disorder where her white blood cells attach the moisture producing glands in her body. While a dry mouth and eyes sound uncomfortable, it's much worse than most people expect. My mom's eyes are so dry that contact lenses actually fall off of her eyes. Her mouth is so dry that it creates dental problems. Additionally, without any moisture in her mouth or nose, she has almost no sense of smell or taste. The only foods she really enjoys anymore are chocolate and very moist foods like soup and foods with sauces.

When I learned that my mom would be undergoing chemo, I knew that it would reduce her white blood cell count. It made me wonder if maybe she'd see some relief from her Sjogrens. As she started to improve from her first round of chemo, I noticed her commenting about how hungry she was and how good food tastes. In fact, just about every time I talked to her, she was making some kind of comment about food. Finally, over the weekend she commented that food tastes so good that she's going to gain 500 pounds while doing chemo.

Not something you hear often from patients undergoing chemo very often. Not only does she have her sense of taste back, she can smell things again. I've even heard her sniffling a little as she gets used to the moisture in her nose.

Now that she's been through her first round, and knows that she only feels really horrible for about 3-4 days, she's decided that it's not too bad. Add in the return of her ability to enjoy food again, and she's decided to view chemo as a respite from her Sjogren's, and not the nightmare experience she was afraid it was going to be.

Now that's how you put a good spin on something.


Karen said...

So now I know where you got your ability to put a positive spin on things :)

JenFen said...

That's really interesting. And a great attitude.

claudia said...

There is a positive side to it. For me it was being able to start over with my hair. I also gained 20 lbs but that wasn't an upside. Although like I said before it was better than the alternative that I had anticipated. I gained because I ate like I always did but wasn't able to be as active.

Beth said...

That is awesome to hear. Your mom's awesome attitude is amazing. You must make her all kinds of LauraC's stuffed brownie yumminess!

Carrie77 said...

Wow, how amazing is that. I am glad your Mom can find some comfort, even under the circumstances. It sounds like she really has a positive outlook and how wonderful that she can enjoy a variety of foods again!!

Julie said...

That is a really good and unexpected thing! My dad always complained of a metallic taste when he had chemo. When you get the list of possible side effects--it is downright terrifying. Its a lovely surprise to get a silver lining side effect.