Friday, January 11, 2008

Chemo #2: Feeling sorry for myself

This became MUCH longer than I anticipated -- the bottom line is -- had chemo, full dose, went pretty well but just a bit "weirder" than last time. The novelty of having chemo has definitely worn off.


I keep starting this message, but the neuropathy was getting me this week, making it hard to type or do alot of things. And the chemo is kind of making my thinking a bit fuzzy.

Which means....I did get chemo this week! I did three injections last week to increase my white count, and one acupuncture session, sending my white count sky high, and I was able to get chemo. Mixed blessing, of course! But, two chemo sessions down! Yes, I'm counting.

Once we found that my white blood cell count was high enough, the question on the table was: Do we reduce the dose, so that my white count doesn't drop so much, or do we go full-speed-ahead and give injections on a regular basis to make sure that my white count stays high? The doctor's recommendation was to do everything we can to continue with the full dose of chemo, so now, after I remove the continuous infusion pump, I get an injection to produce white cells. Again, give one drug, then take another to manage its side effects....

Your bone marrow produces white blood cells, specifically, the bone marrow in flat bones like your sternum or pelvis. The injections are like speed for bone marrow production, and my marrow felt like it was expanding inside my bones. It makes those bones a bit sore, feeling like I needed a really good massage, but then you know it is working. They recommend Tylenol to help with that feeling. (again, give one drug, then another for the side effects...)

The acupuncture treatment she used for generating white cells is called the Hepatitis treatment, which freaked me out until I understood what was going on. My acupuncturist is this great Japanese woman and I seriously thought something got mixed up in the translation!

So, after all that, I got hooked up with chemo. Julie, my favorite nurse in the world, was there, and some friends dropped by, which made it fun, we got to catch up, and the time passed pretty quickly.

It was pretty uneventful, though this time around, I kind of got pushed off my center and it took me awhile to return. Not really sick, just not myself, and hard to get back to where I felt like myself. So it was hard to write and things were just slightly out of

THEN, the neuropathy set in (sort of tingly hands and feet, sensitivity to cold) and I thought, okay I can manage that.

I went to the acupuncturist and told her about it. Immediately after the session, I got some sort of major cramping in my hands and was unable to move them at all. Weird. It was kind of like having a foot cramp or Charley horse in your hands. In addition to being painful, I could look at them and think "move!" but nothing would happen. It lasted about 5 minutes. (The good news is that, later at night, I realized that the neuropathy had gone away.)

After acupuncture, I was on my way to the hospital to get the pump removed and just thinking, "I really can't do this. This is insane." and generally feeling sorry for myself. I cried all the way to the hospital. Once there, I stopped to get a burrito, still very self-absorbed. The woman behind the counter went to warm the burrito, returned, and the guy behind me ordered a burrito. I watched her take my burrito off the grill and I thought she was going to give it to me. But she gave it to him!!!! I was too self-absorbed to really say anything in time, though later, I asked her why she did that and she just shrugged. Then I went to pay for it, and they overcharged me (I did catch that one.) It was a good reminder that if I don't watch it, the downward spiral happens quickly and you have to just propel it in a new direction asap!

This is already way longer than I intended, but I'll leave you with a funny story. Last week, I was at the hospital four days in a row. I saw a sign for Orange Stickers for discounted parking, so I asked the parking woman what they were for. In a sort of annoyed voice, she said, "They are for chemo patients."

"I'm a chemo patient!" Yes, I'm not above taking the perks.

But apparently, my response was said a bit too brightly, because she said, "Chemo patients who are here four or more days a week."

"I am here four or more days a week." Okay, not all for chemo, but it is all chemo-related.

"Get a note from your nurse. Next."

So I guess I still look okay!

Oh, and the nurse, instead of giving me a note, told me that I could do the injections myself at home (HA!) and offered me her daughter as a babysitter (okay - that part was a good deal!)

Thanks for hanging in there with me, for checking in and for all the support. It carries me through this in so many ways.

Love, Marie

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