These are just some updates. This is my attempt to keep writing/blogging something even during the bad week.
I took my friend Andrew to the hospital for a small procedure he was having done on Wednesday. It felt good to help someone else and be the supportive one, not the one receiving the support. In retrospect, I probably should avoid hospitals unless necessary, but we were pretty secluded from everyone else, so no harm done (at least not this time).
Since Thursday was the last day of my good week, I made a plan to live it up! I had a two hour coffee date with girlfriends. I spent a little too much at two different Target stores (again, probably shouldn’t be in places like this…I’ll explain why in a bit) to find some great new curtains for the living room…among other things I needed to pick up before I would be house-bound for a while. Then I made a stop at Larry’s Market (in-between the Target trips), one of my favorite lunch spots on Brown Deer road. It was a staple of my time when I used to work over in the area when I first moved to Milwaukee. Glad I now live close enough to go there. Then after lunch, I went and put our YMCA membership on hold (another germ pit we can do without for a while) and then after the second Target trip, I came home and finished a great book called, “People Who Knew Me” by Kim Hooper (a favorite blogger of mine). Finally, I still had enough energy to iron and help Jake hang up all of the curtains for the living room. As I said, I was living it up. 😉
Third update (the big one):
Before my chemo treatments, I have blood work done and then I get to chat with my oncologist. My blood work was definitely different now that I’ve had chemo and would have been pretty scary had the doc not explained it to me.
See, my white blood cell count is SUPER low, and I was under the impression if it’s that low, that you can’t even do chemo because your body needs to be in a good place before you get beaten up more. Well, for some chemo patients, to help their body recover in-between they do these shots that help re-generate their white blood cells. However, studies have shown that when you do that with one of the drugs I’m taking – Bleomycin – it can actually produce even more toxicity in your lungs, which is really not great for someone already battling something present in their lungs.
But the good news is, the studies also show that even though my body hasn’t fully recovered, if my body can tolerate it (no fevers, no unexpected craziness), then I’ll be fine continuing chemo at that low of a level without the shots in-between chemo.
So, technically, I’m “neutropenic”. And if you google that word, you’re going to be like, “Oh this is bad. This is real bad.” And, I’m not going to lie. It’s not great. It means I’m SUPER susceptible to any kind of infection. And what’s also not great is I’m probably going to be neutropenic for the next 5.5 months while I’m going through chemo.
What does this mean? It means, I need to be extra cautious about what I’m exposed to. No restaurants. No sketchy fast food places (I mean, I should generally be avoiding fast food anyway). No trips to big box stores like Target. No eating from soup/salad/deli bars where others could contaminate the food or food had been sitting out for a while. And then also add in all of the things you should avoid if you were pregnant. As my friend Sarah puts it, “It’s like you’re a newborn all over!” And she’s not wrong. My immune system is basically going to be like that for the next couple months.
What’s also interesting, is that I’m not allowed to have extra vitamin c, antioxidants or other types of multivitamins that could help my immune system. You may think, “That’s odd.” And it is. But as the doctor explained, the job of the chemo is to kill all of my cells…the good and the bad (the cancer cells). If I take supplements, my good cells will regenerate faster…but so will the bad ones. Basically, undoing the work that the chemo treatment is trying to do. So, anything that exists in good, healthy foods – great! Anything that needs to be added in the form of a pill or powder that goes over 100% of my daily intake – not great!
So those were the big AHA! moments from this week’s meeting with the doctor and going over my blood work.
Fourth update (the ickiest):
Second chemo treatment is in the books. 1/6 of the way there!!! Ten more treatments to go! Jake and Lindsay were there for the whole thing and then Sarah (I call her my “personal nutritionist”) stopped by when I was getting chemo, because I had a consult with the nutritionist on staff there. I already gave you most of the updates in the last one, so I won’t repeat those here. And how did this chemo treatment go? Same as the last…with an additional drug to combat that nausea. It’s called “Emend” and it is supposed to curb nausea for the next three days after it’s given. So far, I can definitely tell it’s helping. And then before I knew it, the time was up. My supporters really made the time fly by! Thanks all! Now for some pics.
Fifth and final update (post chemo):
And how am I doing now? I’m…okay. Right after we got home yesterday, I was doing fine. Around 5 I had to start upping the anti-nausea drugs. But I still felt pretty icky all around. BUT…it was an improvement over the first treatment. So that was a sort of win. I was getting really sleepy, but did manage to stay up until 9:30pm. I slept well until around 4am…and then battled with what to do about my rolling stomach. Food? Or anti-nausea? I tried both and the anti-nausea pill won. I finally got another hour of sleep around 5:45am. The rest of the day has been so-so. Feeling better than yesterday, but starting to get that really weak feeling in my body. I also napped on the couch from 10-11am. So that was fun. Lunch went down good. Now I’m just typing this out while the boys are at the pool for a bit. If I recall from my last treatment, day 2 is not that terrible, but day 3 was my worst…so we’ll see if that holds true or if that was just a product of not being as prepared for all the side effects the first go around. I feel way more prepared this time. So maybe this is just the general feeling I’ll have for the next couple days till I come out of it. Oh, bad weeks. You’re certainly not great. Here’s some of my post chemo pics. Obviously NOT my best attempts at looking great. 😉
That’s all I got. Later!