Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chemo 9 of 12: Did I get the right chemo?

This was definitely the most difficult chemo treatment so far.

For those of you who told me that they are having a hard time listening to all this, you might want to skip this message.

If you are still here, cool. And thank you. I think my theme song of the week is I'm Still Standing by Elton John. Lyrics are at the end of this for those of you who do not know the song. I put the words in bold that keep going through my head.

There are three ways that I look at the past week:

The Power of Vision
Early on, I think I told you that my vision of chemo was that you walk cheerily into chemo, you get chemo, you get violently ill, then you get wheeled out, hunched over in a wheelchair. Then you feel sick for days on end.

Well, visions are powerful. That was my experience this week.

Maybe I've just been lucky that it took so long before I got this ill from chemo. But wow. And yuck.

The Power of Tears
Here is another angle. I went into chemo just needing to have a good cry. But there never seemed to be a good time to do that. First I was busy getting my vital signs taken and blood tests done, moving from one place to another for those. Then I met with the doctors. While I did tell them that I felt sad, it just didn't seem like the right time to break down in tears. I wanted to have a good, long, cry, and the appointments are kind of time-limited.

So, I figured that I would just have my time during chemo. But, that didn't happen for a number of reasons. Not that I wasn't encouraged. Mary, who was visiting me, kept insisting that I revisit how I was feeling, not to ignore it. But I kept pushing her off. And Eleanor, my friend the therapist, of course, agreed, but, again, I wouldn't really have any of it.

Now, if the floodgates are going to burst, and you don't give them an outlet, they burst through a million other ways. In my case, immediately after I finished chemo, I got sick. Every five minutes. Non-stop. Ugh. First time that happened. So maybe it was all that emotion trying to get out.

Thank you to Barbara, who continued to offer to drive me home between my runs to the bathroom. And a second thank you to her for calling Tiron to come and get me instead!

The Power of Chemo
This session's reaction was wildly unusual for me. AND, neuropathy is a known and expected side effect of the drugs I am on. In fact, it is cumulative, meaning that it is expected to get worse with each treatment. And, mine has. Until now. This time, I had little to no neuropathy. I can stick my hand in a freezer and it feels cold but not painful. I can scoop out handfuls of ice cubes and only feel the cold, no pain. Further, I'm having no fatigue.

The lack of side effects was the most worrisome part for the doctors and nurses. So, we spent a bit of time doing more blood tests and calling the drug company, checking to see whether I got the right chemo. While the results aren't definitive, it appears that I probably got the right chemo but just have a weird set of side effects this time. The drug company admits that they have never heard of these reactions to my particular regimen. Sigh. Always an adventure. Makes it a bit scary to go in next time, for sure. I didn't realize before this how much trust is involved in the whole process.

So, it is one of those three things, maybe a combination, maybe none of the above.

I ran across this quote this week, from the webpage of Dr. Michele Reiss:
Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain.

I'm definitely still learning, because frankly, I realize that I'm mostly waiting for the storm to pass! Thanks for hanging in there with me, and for bringing me provisions! :-)

Love, Marie

I'm Still Standing
by Elton John& Bernie Taupin

You could never know what it's like
Your blood like winter freezes just like ice
And there's a cold lonely light that shines from you
You'll wind up like the wreck you hide behind that mask you use

And did you think this fool could never win
Well look at me, I'm coming back again
I got a taste of love in a simple way
And if you need to know while I'm still standing you just fade away

Don't you know I'm still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
I'm still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

I'm still standing yeah yeah yeah
I'm still standing yeah yeah yeah

Once I never could hope to win
You starting down the road leaving me again
The threats you made were meant to cut me down
And if our love was just a circus you'd be a clown by now

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