This is a symptom that can be so debilitating that it deserved a page all to itself just to make sure that you didn’t miss it.
This is a symptom that will sneak up on you slowly but surely over the course of your chemotherapy. If you are taking pain meds in addition to chemo, then you can be assured that you will suffer from constipation sooner or later. The side effects listed for chemotherapy and pain meds state constipation or diarrhea. I have to tell you that however uncomfortable and inconvenient diarrhea can be, those who have it can consider themselves lucky that they aren’t constipated.
Your constipation can start off by being mild and then go full blown to where you will need a Lamaze coach in the bathroom with you at all times. Seriously…
Don’t let it get this bad.
As soon as you start your chemotherapy, look at your diet and add as much fiber to your diet as is humanly possible. Now, if you’re like me, my appetite decreased and I could not always get the proper nutrients on a daily basis. If this is your case, use a good organic fiber from the health food store or health food section of your grocery store if they have one. Stay away from the commercial brands of fiber (I won’t mention their names here, but you know which ones I mean) as they contain sugar and/or worse – artificial sweetener. Now is not the time to add these into your diet.
Psyllium husk is a good choice. Just sprinkle a small amount on your cereal or blend into your salads (which you should try to eat a lot of these days). Remember your mother telling you to eat your roughage? Well she was right and it’s a great time to start. Think veggies, lettuces, and fruits.
Most important is to drink lots and lots of water. If a healthy person not getting chemotherapy treatments is recommended to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, then you should be drinking at least that. Better yet, drink more – especially the day before, the day of and the day after your chemo treatments. I would recommend that you drink 10 or 12 glasses per day. Now I am going to answer the million dollar question. The answer that has eluded the greatest of scholars worldwide. A glass is 8 ounces. It’s not a shot glass. Nice try.
If after implementing these suggestions into your daily diet routine, you still find that you have constipation, then I suggest that you take an over the counter stool softener. Any brand will be fine. You can also try Miralax. This has worked wonderfully for me in the past. Just remember to not take it every day otherwise you will end up with diarrhea, which may be preferable to constipation, but still not pleasant. I take Miralax for 3 days and then off for 2 days. This works for me. I do this in addition to adding psyllium husk to my diet and drinking 10 glasses of water a day. This has kept constipation and the Lamaze coach away for me.
Always remember to tell your Oncologist about any new dietary changes and/or medications that you have added to your daily routine. Miralax and stool softeners count as added medications so let him or her know.
I sincerely hope that these suggestions work for you and, as always, your suggestions and comments are not only welcome but they are encouraged. If you have a suggestion yourself, please add it to the comment section and I will gladly add it on coming updates. If you would like to be given credit for your suggestion, let me know and I will give you the credit that you so deserve and will add a link to you if you have one. It takes a village to support us HER2 positive girls.