Thursday, April 22, 2010

Add to your chemo toolbelt: Quinine Water

So everyone knows you loose your hair with chemo. Most people think you throw up a lot, although the drugs they have these days make this not true (I never threw up). One of the bigger side effects that isn't heard a lot, but that is very common is bloating. Serious 5-10 pound bloating.
Dad had a lot of problems with bloating. When I would talk to him he would talk about his ankles and feet being so big he couldn't get shoes on. When I was on chemo this side effect hit me hard. It is literally like you gain 7-10 pounds in 2 days. It hurts your skin. Your skin feels extremely tight and it's hard to bend your joints. It's extremely uncomfortable physically as well as mentally. I hated going out when I was this bloated because I assumed everyone saw the 10 pound gain exactly like I did and assumed I had pigged out on a bunch of food and gained weight. It hurt to move. It felt like my skin would split. The only thing I found that helped, was the only thing Dad also found that helped: quinine water.
Quinine water, if you've never had it, tastes like crap. But if you can manage to gulp down 8-10 oz per day during chemo it will dramatically reduce the amount of bloating you will have to endure. Once I started drinking the quinine water my bloating went down to only being in my lower legs and ankles - which still hurt to walk, but overall was easier to deal with.
Bloating is a serious side effect that most people don't pay attention to. At the end of Dad's struggle his legs got to be so bloated the skin split open. This image is still ingrained in my memory, and it's why I write this blog today. I don't have proof that it will help everyone with every type of bloating, but if you have this issue, try the quinine water.

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