My experience with nausea gave me an insight about a cancer patient's plight

I come across patients everyday complaining of terrible nausea & vomiting after chemotherapy and I try to console them by saying that it will get better with time. Sometimes, I feel that unless you have experienced something yourself, you cannot explain the feeling to some other person.

I have been fortunate enough not to encounter chemo myself, but my understanding of post chemotherapy nausea and the helplessness which one feels in that situation came during our recent whale watching trip in South Africa. Me, my wife and her sister were in a small boat along with 5 other people searching for whales off the coast of Knysna, South Africa. The three of us suffer from motion sickness but we never anticipated that this boat ride will give us a tough time. The initial 30-40 minutes of the boat ride were quite comfortable, as the water was calm. The problem started when the boat started getting rocked by huge waves in the middle of the ocean. My wife was the first one to get started, followed by her sister. I was sitting in the middle, passing the bucket around from one person to the other. They must have vomited at least 5-6 times during our two hours whale watching trip and there was very little we could do to help them out. In fact, towards the end of the boat ride, I also experienced a terrible pang of nausea, followed by a bout of vomiting. It is at that time I realised what cancer patients must be feeling every time they undergo chemotherapy. It is such a terrible feeling and no amount of medicines or consoling helps at that time.

The only saving grace for us was that we had an excellent whale sighting during our trip and every time someone on the boat vomited (5 out of the 8 members on the boat vomited), the whale used to come out to check on us :) :) . Please click on the link to view the pictures

5 Replies

  • @rana31

  • thanks doctor khadelwal.ur blog is ll be more beneficial for us if you keep answering our questions.

  • Lucky for you, you got to see those whales!! :)

    For cancer patients, their silver lining is their survival and the time they get with their family. No whales, no clear skies, no rainbows can give you the pleasure that you get from knowing that you will be seeing your loved ones for longer than your diagnosis made you imagine. For me, I am alive and I get to see my daughter go to second grade. It cannot even be compared to the nausea I felt going through chemo.

  • Shikha very rightly said.

  • One thing that some patients find helpful for nausea is "Seabands" - wrist bands which work on the principal of acupressure. They may have a different name there. They were developed for seasickness and also help if one gets car sick. I keep a pair in my car for a couple of friends to use when riding with me, because they sometimes do get car sick. It's not my bad driving. Really!

    It's hard to compare the nausea that comes with chemo to either of those. It involves the anticipation, feeling ill, vomiting for some, and the knowledge that you will probably go through it all again with your next treatment. So much is mental as well as physical. The good news is that there are medications that work incredibly well for some. The patient next to me in the infusion center, the last time I was there, got an IV infusion for her nausea that works for her for three days. Hopefully it is something that will be perfected to work for more patients.

    Shikha - Enjoy every minute of your daughter's year. Second grade was one of my favorites to teach. You are so right about the blessings of chemo, nausea and all.


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