Anticipatory nausea occurs before treatment as a response to other triggers in the environment (such as, certain objects, odors, or tastes). Some people experience anticipatory nausea even before leaving for treatment. This is a conditioned reflex (a response to earlier stimulus) than can happen repeatedly, each time a person faces the situation that triggers the reflex. For example, a person who begins chemotherapy and smells an alcohol swab at the same time, may later experience nausea at the smell of alcohol alone.
I was trying to explain to my doctor about my nausea and gagging that I have been experiencing. He said “Yes that’s anticipatory nausea”. Um never heard of it! I have medication to help with it now, but I still experience it. I never know when it’s going to hit me. Last week when I was getting ready to go to chemo I had a really hard time. As I picked up the bag that I take with me to chemo every time I go I gagged over and over again. If I get into my husbands car even if I am just going to the store. I gag over and over. (we always take his car to my treatments) Another trigger for me is anything that smells sterile. The smell of antibacterial hand sanitizer particularly gets me going. It just takes over and I have to control it with deep breathing and small sips of water. For me though it is not just my chemo treatments that trigger the nausea and gagging. It is a list of things, the smell of dog food, raw meats, the smell of our garage, the smell of Dove soap. The list goes on I will not bore you with it.
It seems to be getting better as I get through my treatments. The farther away from my AC treatments I get the less I experience it. But this has been the one thing that has bothered me the most through my chemotherapy. I guess I should not complain. I have pretty much sailed through chemo with no really big problems. I really was not prepared for it though. So I thought I would share it with all of you. Hopefully my experience will help someone out.