Chemo - Round 2
I entered last week with much trepidation and I would be lying if I said that I wasn't absolutely dreading going back in for another cycle of chemo. I began mentally prepping, albeit at first subconsciously about a week prior. I say subconsciously because I can look back and see my mood and demeanor change when I am getting ready for treatment, something I am not really aware of at the time. I become quiet and withdrawn, shorter of temper and "in my own head." It generally isn't until closer to the end of the week that I realize I have been thinking about the upcoming round.
I feel sorry for those around me, they ask what's on my mind and if there is anything they can do. How do you answer that? "No, you can't help me, you can't take my place and there is absolutely nothing you can do about any of it." That is my inner voice; hopefully my outer voice is actually the one that responds, "Thank you, it's all good, I'm just thoughtful. I appreciate your concern." Which is just as accurate a statement as the one from my inner voice. The conflict and internal turmoil preparing to willing accept good poison which is only designed to kill anything living in my body, is very real. It takes a lot of mental preparedness to sit/lie in bed for 5 straight days hoping that no one makes a mistake with the drugs or the way they are administered and praying that my organs don't shut down or worse. The bulk of this battle is mental. Physically, all I have to do is show up.
Round 2 began on Monday and ended Friday of last week. It started slow as they always do. The administrative paperwork is nearly always the hang up. But, I appreciate that all the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted. The week was, chemo-speaking, uneventful. Again I didn't actually get sick, not that I didn't feel awful at times, but my body handled it fairly well. I gained 11 pounds of fluid weight but within four days of discharge had lost 19 pounds.
This Tuesday found me at 92 pounds and feeling poorly. I ended up in the ER, it was too late in the day to go to the clinic at MSTI and surprisingly enough, I was in and out in a record 2 hours. I was dehydrated and just needed a little help with some fluids.
Wednesday was more of the same, only I was able to go to the clinic for my fluids. I have had another reaction to an antibiotic which I am given prophylactically along with an antiviral and antifungal in anticipation of my immune system tanking, which it did by Tuesday. My counts were zero.
Today I had to make a, "this is my health, my body and my decision" judgment call regarding the drugs I am taking. Apparently because of all my adverse reactions to the antibiotics they have been trying (severe hives and itching with two of the antibiotics and itching with the most recent), a new antibiotic was called in. This new antibiotic, while a routine drug, does not interact well with the antifungal I am taking and the side effect is a prolonged Q-wave or A-fib. The chemo drugs themselves are known to do just that and I know of people that have had this issue and some cannot continue treatment because of it. I just didn't feel that some itching should be trumped by possible A-fib and potential cessation of treatment. I decided this morning to continue on the itchy medication and live on Benadryl for the next 4-5 days until I can get off the antibiotic. Oddly enough, this is something I would not have done when this journey first began. If a provider told me to drink snake venom as it might help me, I would have gone out and found a cobra to milk!
Again my experience at 4 South (oncology) was remarkable from the cleaning staff on up. They are just wonderful, friendly, caring and genuine people. Be it not for the chemo, I would think I were in a spa.
As I sit here I can feel the elevated temperature and bone pain starting to creep in from the bone marrow stimulation shot. It is expected and hopefully will be short lived and gone by the first of next week. While this is an unpleasant side effect, I look at it as a very positive sign that my bone marrow is starting to produce white blood cells.
As mentioned above, my counts are zero, so I am isolated at home again. The fear is infection and/or sepsis, which is very difficult to get through in my zero immune state. Therefore, I am not seeing friends or family again. My immune system should be recovered by the end of next week.
SPECIAL REQUEST: A dear friend of mine is in need of some special prayers. His wife has sepsis and is on life support. They have been absolute prayer warriors for me and have put my name on the prayer list at their church every week for nearly a year. It is time for me to do all I can to reach out for them and ask for positive energy and prayers of healing for Ginny and Comfort and Peace for Garry. Thank you!
ONGOING REQUEST: My platelets are at their lowest currently, 87 (average person is 150-450). This number has dropped from 250 on Friday. While I will not need a platelet transfusion until that number gets down to around 20, it could very well do that. My Red Blood Cell count is still above transfusion level at this time as well, but dropping. For those of you that have given or are thinking about giving blood or platelets, thank you; the life you save could be mine.
I appreciate all of those who have reached out to me during this time and for keeping me and my family in your thoughts and prayers. I love you all and need you in this journey.