Thursday, May 15, 2014

First Thousand

Last week was a fairly easy week. I got to row a few times, ran (very short, 2 miles), did some stationary biking), and kept very busy with multiple and oddly timed practices due to my team being in Reading Period (papers due and prep time for the end of classes) and now Exams. Throw into that a few meetings and the fact that our League Championship is this Sunday, May 18, and I really didn't think much about being in treatment - very nice. Still, I had plenty of food dropped off (I can't thank all of you enough, and I have piles of containers labeled ready to be returned), lots of cards in the mail, and social media continues to link me up with friends far and near, and many new to me all together.

purple darkening at nail bed
It's already Day 4 of the fourth cycle and holding steady. Yesterday Monday was the final round of the Adriamycn and Cytoxan, the former providing me with one shot of red pee post treatment and the latter with removing a fair amount of my hair, and joining forces to upset the GI system, especially nauseousness. I also have a bit of darkened nailbeds on my fingers mainly which is another site of more quickly dividing cells, another typical side effect. United, however, they have done remarkable work on continuing to shrink the tumor. Every two weeks when I meet with my doctors, both of them can feel the difference in size and density - it's a great thing to have happen. Because of that response, I know that any rogue cells are being zapped as well. It also means the eventual surgery (lumpectomy) will be less invasive (my words), but I have been assured that cosmetically there will now be no difference. Sigh of relief, haha, from the possessor of the AAs.

The only updates outside of treatment are few. I am planning to shave my head again. There is some stubble just barely growing in in the patchy places after a week and a half and I've found hats are easier with much more hair (so they sit off of my ears) or with less hair where hats can slip on (and off, non-Velcro style). The other is that I did get my period this month, a little delayed but it still kicked in. Biology and treatment response can vary so much from person to person, the range of normal or typical can be quite varied in terms of comfort, fatigue, and how normal body functions go on or don't. Definitely being fit and healthy has to help, yet much is out of my control so I do what I can, as I've said before to try to keep a normal daily routine and to include staying healthy, getting exercise, eating well, washing my hands, sleeping, and staying hydrated.

In two weeks, I will begin a similar course, that is once every 14 days, of Taxol. This should make for much less nausea in terms of side effects, to the point where I won't even be prescribed any of the antimemtics I take now on days 2-5 (and 6 or 7 for me depending on hours on the bus). No self-injected or otherwise shots of Neulasta either. The side expected side effects going forward are during administration:  neuropathy - tingling and numbness in the hands and feet. If it is too much, they lower the dose. I asked what is too much, not wanting to tough out something which could be permanently debilitating. If I start to struggle to work a button into a button hole or other fine motor skill, that is the indicator and they drop the dosage down. I am glad there is a line in the sand! The other issue is a possible allergic reaction to the solvent used with the Taxol. However, being in the hospital would allow for a prompt and swift fix, and it would be nothing to worry about once the diffusion is done each day.

Big photo upload to show the various set ups I have. There are needles, so if you're squeamish in that respect you can finish reading here. I'm considering the red pee toilette bowl photo, but that might be too much and you'll have to take my word for it. (Or click on the link at the end of the post.)

Update - shaved my head, by myself - no nicks, nice and smooth.

Photopalooza - the first is blood work results which I have done each morning before chemo when they also check my vitals - weight, blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and blood oxygen saturation.

The second is when I get prepped for the saline (hydration) drip which will wind up being used to infuse me with the rest of the drugs and chemicals.

Following some antimetic pills, the and the saline, I get Fosaprepitant, a super antiemetic through the IV. After that, there is there is the Adriamycin in the two big vials (super red). Notice the gloves and saftey garb Nurse S is wearing when she administers this nasty-nasty! Following the Adriamycin push, that goes directly into the IV, not through
the drip, is the last of it all, the Cytoxan which hangs and takes about an hour to drip (no photo).

At the end of the day, it all goes into the large hazmat bin at the end of my station. Good riddance! The real marker of the end of this round is the used Sharps container with my 4 spent Neulasta injections. They served me well, but glad that they are done, too. Gratuitous photo of a soggy Max post-walk this AM in lieu of red pee shot (click here if you really want to see it.)

huge hazmat bin

P.S. Race fans, this is the big weekend - May 18, Lake Quinsimamond for the EARC Eastern Sprints!    

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