Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chemo Five of SIX: Blood counts coming up, beginning to think about radiation

I finally got the schedule for the rest of my chemo, and on Tuesday, had number five of six. So I am almost through the first part of this treatment!!!!

The past two weeks have been relatively non-eventful, though I did learn a few things.

The first that comes to mind: I got my regular injection to increase my white cell production. I usually have a particular nurse who does reiki before, during and after the injection, so it never felt like a big deal to get the shot.

This time, she was out, so I got the nearest available nurse. Wow. Not only did the injection hurt like heck, but I let out with a string of swear words that I don't think I've ever used all in a row, then burst into tears. So, thank goodness for reiki and, I am learning that while I am living with so much uncertainty, it helps me to have consistent caregivers.

Now that my doctor will be going on maternity leave, I will be assigned to another doctor. Learning that I need consistent caregivers, we opted to keep my current chemo day. This way, I would have the same nursing staff, scheduling person, etc. We'll figure out what doctor is available on that day. The other good news is that the resident who I adored at Dana Farber is now a Fellow at MGH, so I will have him on my team as well. Ya-Hoo! Someone is really watching out for me.

I seem to be tolerating the treatments well. My white cells were in a good place this time, and, thanks to the seaweed soup, the bone marrow soup, the somewhat consistent iron pills (I don't always take them -- oops), cream of wheat, lamb, cooking in cast iron, acupuncture and a little bit of magic...I now have what seems to be a relatively normal set of red cells. Whew. My nausea is mostly the kind of nausea that makes you feel like you should put a little something in your stomach, so I'm eating constantly and steadily gaining weight.

This chemo visit was a bit funky but kind of fun (in a weird way). My schedule got all balled up, so I was there all day. But I got to visit with other friends who were there as patients, and a few friends dropped by here and there, as well as my husband. I learned about a fabulous knitting book, and I almost finished knitting my scarf for my four-year-old son.

It did occur to me that all of us chemo patients spend alot of time just waiting. Isn't it ironic that, for people who I am sure have contemplated the precious commodity of time, we are forced to sit and do nothing with it! I've chosen to look at it as an investment -- this full day in the hospital buys more time on the other end. But still, ironic. And a bit annoying.

Next up is radiation. Here is what I know so far about that:
-- It kind of scares me (which means I need to learn more).
-- Because my cancer was right on the line between colon and rectal (lovely), it is my choice whether or not to have it. All advice points to having it, so I am going down that road.
-- It is five days a week for 5.5 weeks, and I will wear my continuous chemo pump during those five days, every week. I really resent having this pump, but I've got to find a way to make peace with that or I will make myself crazy. Someone at my acupuncturist office told me to think of it as a friend that is mildly annoying. I don't really have any of those, so I'll have to conjure something up. Any ideas are welcome.

I meet with the radiologist on Monday to learn more, so if you know of any questions I should ask him, send those along.

Finally, the kids seem to be doing okay with all this. I am away alot, and the more I am away, the more they seem to cling to me. Between the doctor appointments, acupuncture, nutritionist, yoga, phone calls to schedule appointments, and also needing some time alone and with friends (haven't figured out how to get exercise in there, too), I think I would see them more if I had a fulltime job.

It helps that folks have provided great playdates (thank you!) and we've found some wonderful babysitters along the way.

There was a time period where I was so raw that I was wide open. And during that time, it is almost as if grace had a chance to enter. The gifts and suggestions that I was open to during that time have all been wonderful additions to my life. Life has now kind of assumed a new normal, so I am no longer in that place, and while I wish I could generate that kind of openness in myself, I am always grateful for ever having it at all, and for all the gifts it brought.

Thank you for all the meals, playdates, suggestions, good wishes, prayers and friendship. This feels like such a long road, and I am so thankful for your company.

Love, Marie

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