Thursday, May 27, 2021


(Written May 26, 2021)


I posted a video on social media yesterday (I'm "@NicoleJButler" on all social media except Pinterest, where I had to add a "1." 😒), letting everyone know that I'm going through cancer treatment. I mulled it over for a while to be sure it was what I wanted to do, and decided that it was. Now everyone who wants to know, can know, which allows them to process their feelings in their own time and keeps me from having "the conversation" over and over again.

The cancer center where I'm being treated offers a few *special* perks to those of us undergoing active treatment: yoga and tai chi classes, weekly sound baths, an art workshop, and 4 free "wellness" appointments including massage, acupuncture, acupressure, and one other thing that I always forget. 

Today I got a massage before my treatment. My (ahem) "area being radiated" has been very sore & swollen lately, so I couldn't lie face down. The masseuse, whom I saw for the first time last week,  told me to stay face-up and she would modify the massage. It went just fine and I floated out taller and more relaxed when I came it. I went downstairs, got my daily zap from the radiation machine, and went on my merry way. I ordered lunch for pickup (Zankou Chicken 😋), picked it up, and headed home. Once home I took my ADHD meds (which I had forgotten to take in the morning since I left earlier than usual so my "take your meds" alarm hadn't gone off yet), and because I was still in pain, I decided to take 2 acetaminophen (generic Tylenol)  capsules instead of my usual 1.

I sat down to eat and about 10 mins into my meal, my legs started itching. Then my hairline. Then my scalp, then my- OH NO - I remember this... I'm breaking out in to hives! (WARNING: If you want to see a few pix of the hives, click the link that follows this parenthetical. If you think photos of hives might freak you out, don't click the link.) Photos are here:

I put my lunch into the microwave, took a Benadryl, then headed straight for a lukewarm shower. The hives multiplied as I showered and I scratched as much as I dared. I got out of the shower, called a good friend who lives in my building, and asked if he would PUHLEEZE run to CVS and get me some hydrocortisone ASAP. He left immediately, I popped another Benadryl, and took pix to text to my mother, my sister, and a couple of trusted friends for advice. My mother told me to call my doctor. I called the nurse at the cancer center, told her what was happening, and asked if this was a possible side effect from radiation treatment. She assured me that it wasn't and said that she wanted to tell me to take Benadryl but since she didn't know what I was reacting to, she'd prefer that I go to the ER or urgent care. Way ahead of ya, Sis - Benadryl up to bat, hydrocortisone on deck. I talked to my friend while he was at CVS, bless his heart, and he sounded panicked. I tried to keep him calm and guide him through the store as I watched the hives continue to multiply and I continued to scratch. I literally had hives from my head to my feet. He found what I needed and brought it to me. I slathered myself in hydrocortisone, turned up the AC and lay on my bed. After about 1/2 hour, the hives on one thigh looked like they were starting to flatten out into one big lesion, and, drowsy from the Benadryls I decided that meant I was getting better and I could doze off. I vowed that if I was still all hived-up when I awoke, I'd go to the ER.

I awoke about... 3.5 hours later and the hives were almost completely gone, thankfully! As I type, I'm still a little itchy in spots, but nothing I can't deal with. 

At this point, I'm guessing it's either the massage oil that the masseuse used or the extra acetaminophen capsule that I took, or even the fact that I took a generic instead of an actual TYLENOL. I broke out in places that the masseuse didn't massage, so the oil would have had to travel via my bloodstream (which can happen) in order for me to break out all over my body. I'm also allergic to NSAIDS and acetaminophen is the only over-the-counter oral pain med that I can still take, so it could be the culprit. I hope not because the thought of getting through the final week and a half of radiation with no pain meds is daunting.

2021 seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. I'm really hoping the latter half is better than this first half has been.

Pray for me. 🙏🏾


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