Monday, December 30, 2019

Round 2

The second and third weeks after chemo are really not all that bad.

One forgets how things go, in other words.

Then infusion day comes around again, the stabbity needle enters the port (EMLA cream does f-ckall for that moment of pain, BTW), and the chemicals begin a-flowing.  Then the next day - the neutrophil boost (pegfilgrastim in this case).

I think I mentioned last time that it's my opinion that chemo wouldn't be so bad if not for the pegfilgrastim shot that's given the day after.  Oh sure, it's meant to boost your immune systems by getting those neutrophils and stuff to come pouring out of the old bone marrow to fight infection, but what isn't fully appreciated is THE PAIN associated with that process.  Deep down bone pain.  It's sort of awful.

'Take a Claritin at night' they say.  I do.

'Then take an Aleve in the morning' they say.  I do.

All is well for a few hours after each administration, but by about 2 p.m. I'm grunting like I'm in labor, hoping it's time to take another nap, just for today, just for an hour, because maybe after that the pain will abate and I can do more than shuffle and moan.

On the plus side, my zombie impersonation is coming along nicely.

On another plus side, there is no ascertainable GI effect this time around, which leads me to believe that I might have picked up a little bug at the infusion center last time I was there that got those gears spinning a little too fast and got me all dehydrated.  So, WIN for that not happening this time.

By tomorrow this groaning pain should be skipping out the door (fingers crossed!), and by Wednesday a return to about 80% power should be in place.

That's about it - I'm still bald, obviously.  My head feels kind of nice when I rub it. 

Tiff out.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Chemo affects it all

It's been a week, folks.

First chemo infusion was on 04 Dec, with a Neulasta shot on 05 Dec.

BTW: chemo for me is docetaxel + cyclphosphamide.  Once every 3 week, plus the pegfilgrastim chaser.

How did it affect me?  Thusly:

-Day of infusion - no biggie

-Day after: no biggie

-Day 3: I believe I blogged it.

-Day 4, a Saturday:  HURT.  Wow, ow.  Pain, ache, ow.  Shiver.  Nap.  No food thanks.

-Day 5, Sunday:  Like Day 4, but WORSE.  Way worse.  No rest to be had, even in sleep.  Can stay awake maybe 30 minutes between naps.  Finding many creative place to rest.

-Day 6, Monday:  Pain is letting up (thanks, Clariitn!)  5 hours of work meetings is about all I can handle.  Napping on a 1-hour nap, 45-minute work schedule, still get stuff done.

-Day 7, Tuesday: Better, somewhat, though still with the loose bowels and really NOT loving the idea of eating at all.  Get work done, only need one nap to make it through the day.  Still shifting sleeping places at night just for novelty and the chance to rest.

-Day 8: Wednesday: A trip in for bloodwork shows that 1) all labs are NORMAL (YAY!) and 2) my BP is super-low and I'm dehydrated.  Jeez, HOW?  (also, I've lost 10 pounds since last week so...)  I'm drinking 2 liters of water a DAY, but a lot of it still still coming out 'the back end' as watery poops, so that's probably no help.  Get hooked up to IV fluids for a couple of hours.  Have no idea idea what I might be missing for work, don't care.  Told to cut out the BP meds until next labs visit.  Drive home, nap.  Try not to expose myself to any food smells, as that will kick off some retching.  Nothing awful.

-Day 9, Thursday: feel pretty good.  Only need one afternoon nap.  Work is productive.  Couch still comfiest place to sleep.  No pain or nausea.  Might be kicking this, hoping the GI stuff goes way soon,

-Day 10, Friday:  Feel almost normal.  Still some chills, but no pain or nausea. 

-Day 11, Saturday:  Feel normal.  No complaints, just need to sit down every once in a while to rest.  On completely voluntary nap taken, because it's SATURDAY.  GI tract appears to be back to normal.  We put lights on the Christmas tree, I bake.  A slice of pizza for dinner. Sleep in bed all night.

-Day 12, Sunday:  Wake up stupid early, and because Biff does too we are at Waffle House by 4 eating delicious breakfast, home by 5 to relax (me) or nap (Biff).  Will decorate some more today, make a tree topper, and throw some more festive bakery in the oven, I'm sure.

So, there it is.  The first few days were OK, but by the third day after after infusion and 2 days after Neulasta, I was completely out of it.  For 2.5 days I was very very uncomfortable, antsy, exhausted, mad, and sick.  Every day after the improvements have been vast and appreciated.

Fingers crossed this is a pattern that repeats and doesn't intensify.  Next infusion is the day after Christmas.

Tiff out.

Friday, December 06, 2019

First infusion thoughts

That's one of 'em.

Wednesday 04 Dec was the first infusion for treatment of whatever residual cancer cells might be bounding around in my bloodstream affixing themselves to far-flung places in by body that only they can find to use to hide from my immune system/natural defenses.

I'm not a fan of lurking cancer, so agreed with the treatment plan to flood my system with poison to eradicate the issues.  Many many poisons.  The treatments are infusions of docetaxel and cyclophosphamide once every 21 days +/- a little Ativan if you're so inclined and a bit of anti-nausea meds to get you over the first few days of what could be very unpleasant indeed.

In prep, I was supposed to have applied some EMLA cream, which is used to numb the skin over the port (it's lidocaine and prilocaine), but I 'did it wrong' and instead of just gobbing on a whole raft of the shit on the site I kind of rubbed it in and then covered with an occlusive dressing.

WRONG, and proved so when it simply didn't do much to ease the sting of the needle going into the port.

No matter - just a little pinch, but not one I was expecting so not the best surprise ever.

Then the blood draw, then the saline, then the pre-meds, then a 50-minute drip of the docetaxel, then a 15-minute flush, then 50 minutes of cyclophosphamide, then a flush and some heparin added, and I was out the door.  About a 4-hour process, all told.  None of which was bad.

I decided to NOT get a filgrastim (Neulasta) 'pod' for home use, because it truly sounds like a pain to manage, so went in the next day for a shot of that to keep the neutrophil counts up, after taking a claritin to ward off the bone pain that can sometimes come as an after-effect of the GCSF being administered (that's granulocyte colony stimulating factor to you).

The shot was yesterday.

I stayed up way too late last night getting work done, then got up too early this morning to start meetings at 6:30 a.m.

Made it to about 2:30 p.m. before the overwhelming urge to take a nap overcame me, and crawled into the recliner, where 2 hours of glorious rest befell me almost immediately.

Pretty sure it was work that did me in, but who knows?  I might be experiencing a little med fatigue, or just flat-out mental fatigue with what this week's been all about.

All in all though, not a terrible experience.  No bad effects, I didn't have to ring the bell, and walked out of the unit feeling pretty good.

I still don't recommend it.

Tiff out.