Jun 022004

A bunch of stuff has happened and I haven’t really had the time or the energy to post anything here, so I will try to fix that now.

First, a wee report on the joys of chemotherapy.

Well, it just pretty much sucks, really, but as a woman I have been talking to pointed out, it beats the alternative.

We got to the BCCA and they took me to the room where I would get my treatment. It’s basically a regular hospital room, like on a ward.
When I had had an initial meeting a few weeks ago with one of the nurses who is overseeing the research project , she said that they usually set it up so you have a room to yourself for your first treatment.
So, I was a bit stunned to walk into the room and see two other people with IV bags in their arms.
And I froze, like a dog not wanting to get into/out of the car.
Whoa… hold it right there… This isn’t okay… I am the private room freak, whatever the expense. But it didn’t work that way. It was a bit weird at first but then I ended up having other things on my mind.

It is kind of funny when they set you up for your chemo treatment because they make you spell your first and last name for them and rattle off a bunch of other personal information, sort of like when the pharmacist confirms your address when they give you your prescription.
But it was funny when the nurse wanted me to confirm all that because Elaine started making jokes about people sneaking in and impersonating other people to get a few extra chemo treatments.
I mean, you’d only have to be there for a few minutes to realize that these chemo drugs aren’t the target of a lot of drug seeking behaviours.

Other people in my room had their treatments in shorter periods of time than me, so quite a few people came and went while we sat there. We arrived at 11 am and went home around 5:30 or so.
At one point, I had a medium sized reaction to the drug and they had to stop the IV and give me some Gravol because I was getting pretty sweaty and feeling pretty grim. Luckily Elaine came to my rescue when she saw I was starting to wander off in a wrong direction.

It is very strange to have so much fluid draining into your body over that period of time. At a certain point I could feel the skin in my elbow had gone cold from the cold liquid pumping into my system. They cover my arm up with a little heating pad to make that less drastic, but sometimes it gets annoying to only have one hand.
At some points, my vein went into spasm from the drugs and that hurt quite a bit. I don’t know if there is anything that can be done about that. I did remark that I am much more fond of the morphine drip, and that the morphine doesn’t hurt going in, not one bit. This comment did not secure me a bag of morphine, sad but true.

And that was Monday and today is Wednesday, and the fact of the matter is that the killing spree continues inside my body today and I have no idea how I will feel in a half hour. Sometimes I feel really good and sometimes I just feel like crap. And it really does seem to change really quickly. That makes it kind of hard to plan, and I know people have been wanting to check in and stuff, and I wish I could lay something out with a more solid chunk of information, but right now, everything changes in a heartbeat.
Sometimes I feel pretty dizzy, and then it gets better.
My voice has gone kind of weird and a bit higher pitched.
My ability to form a sentence or express an idea is sort of wobbly too.
My bones ache some times, and sometimes they are fine.
The nurses and doctors say that I should expect to be constipated and also expect to have the green apple quick-step.
It’s sort of a collision course inside my body right now.
I am trying to frame it in a Harry Potter versus Voldemort kind of way but sometimes I come up with other analogies.

We have had to implement the Reverse Quarantine act at chez nous.
Have I already mentioned all this? The stuff about don’t come over if you are sick, have been around someone who is sick, or if you are just recovering from being sick.
Also, to reduce the numbers of germies and stuff coming in our home, we are asking folks to wash their hands when they come into the house, just to help lessen the number of little critters coming our way.
I realize it seems like a bit much but it really is important. the bottom line is, I basically have next to no immune system, and if I get exposed to something, I don’t have many little soldier blood cells to fight it off because they are being beaten to bits by the chemo drugs. If I *do* get sick, they may have to delay a chemo treatment, and much as I don’t enjoy it, if the treatments get delayed, it gives the cancer more time to take root again, and we don’t want that.
So it’s a totally weird and difficult process but I need to do it and I need to do it the way they have it set up.

So now it’s been about 48 hours since the first treatment and I am just trying to figure out what I can and can’t do. It’s sort of strange to be so vigilant about everything my body is doing. I am also taking a lot of gravol, and I have been taking some steroids because they help make me feel better (though they also mean I can’t sleep). I’ve been taking some anti-nausea pills and basically I have been eating as much as regular and maybe more.
One thing I have noticed is the chemo drugs are making my body sweat out some rather vulgar smells. Elaine says she can’t smell it, but I am constantly trying to figure out where the bad smell is coming from, and then I realize it’s me. That pretty much sucks. I have no idea whether it will taper off in a week or if I am going to stink for 6 months.
I’m hoping that this 3 week chemo cycle will work out so I don’t feel too bad in the week before the next treatment because my body has started building up new blood cells and all.
It’s all a huge unknown to me right now, and that is sometimes more stressful that the stuff that is actually happening in my body.

Oh, and I still have my hair, but it’s getting shaved off on Saturday.
I don’t want to deal with the ongoing horror of looking down and seeing it, so off it comes.
I confess, I am vain enough that I resent the lack of choice with the bald thing, but it’s the better one of my choices. I suspect my little glittering skull will be covered most of the time, but I still find it weird that I will be announcing ‘my illness’ to the world every time I am around someone.
Oh well… what are you gonna do, eh?

I’m sure that there is plenty more to tell, but I think I have run out of steam for this particular entry.

More as it happens, comrades.

 Posted by at 5:19 pm

  4 Responses to “Chemo Tidbits and info”

  1. I didn’t get very close – due to the small post-nasal drip – but you smelled fine to me. I’ll give it a better check next time.

  2. Call your GP and get a script for zopliclone/rhovane. lovely blue football non-narcotic sleeping pills. Even if you only take one every 2nd or 3rd night, the extra rest will be invaluable. And you won’t wake up feeling stoned, if that’s a concern.

    it’s how I reduced jetlag on long flights. eat meal, take pill, awaken like a gentle fleur in new country.

  3. Since you’ll have all that new territory on your haed and since you missed an opportunity at the tatto show, have you considered that it might be a great canvas for magic markers, or those temporary tattoos? Working here at the city I have access to about a million Olympic bid ones (but I suspect you have better taste than that…)

    Perhaps a lovely ring of roses… or an intertwining vine… or a celtic braid… or “I love Elaine”….

    – K

  4. thanks so much on the issue of a smell during chemo. i thought i was crazy… the smell i have smells like rotten chicken. my son first noticed it in the car while we were traveling. i carry body spray with me and use at work. i am on my last treatment and wonder just how long i have to keep smelling this coming out of my pores… i would rather have b.o. then this!

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