Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chemo: week 6 - blood counts.

Lab test results so far in chemo treatments.
August 10 - Blood tests before first Chemo infusion - Carboplatin & Gemzar
August 17 - Blood test before second chemo infusion - Gemzar alone.
August 24 - Blood test before third chemo - counts had dropped too low so no infusion of Gemzar.
August 31 - No blood test this week - week off to recover strength.
September 7 - Blood test before first chemo of second round - carbo & gem
September 14 - Blood test before Gemzar.

The second round of infusions are at a lower dose of Gemzar to reduce depression of blood counts enough to allow us to safely administer the third dose.

Monday, September 13, 2010

chemo: week 6 - Is it routine yet?

Today is Monday, the last day of the fifth week. This completes the week of the first treatment that I've had before - again. (what?) Anyway, I now can compare the progression of symptoms over two replicate weeks to see if there is any change that may be caused either by environmental effects or some additive effect of the drugs (or change - strengthening or weakinging - in how my system tolerates them).

Looking back on the first week (first chemo) by this time - 7 days into the dose - I was feeling great again. That Monday I was no longer feeling queasy or 'hot in my core'. Now, today, I feel okay but I'm not feeling great. I have that yucky feeling still but it's just not as bad as it's been all week (since Thursday, anyway). Other than that the week has been pretty much the same.

Except for my hand - where the IV was put in. That is sore and swollen. My ring finger is red and swollen and I've taken my wedding ring off (while I could). I have no grip with that hand and if I forget and try to grab something I get a shooting pain. After the first couple days of cold packs I am now soaking it in hot water a couple times a day. It has been getting better all week. The redness is gone and the swelling and soreness is going down. My grip is improving - I forgot while pulling weeds in the garden and it reminded me, however.

I've survived the second dose of Carboplatin and Gemzar. Tomorrow just the Gemzar.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

chemo: week 5 - it's back and the novelty is gone.

Week 5 began Tuesday morning at the clinic with a New Nurse. She was very young and seemed a little uneasy with the idea of sticking me with the IV needle. She tried my right hand first (I suggested a switch from the past two weeks in my left). She said I had 'rolling veins' but she should be able to get it. (This is the first I've heard of 'rolling veins'.) She tried once and got it - but it got away (or something like that). She asked if I'd like someone else to try it - this time on the left hand - and I said; "No, give it another try." (while she was working on my right hand, Chemo Nurse walked by and mouthed; "every one's veins roll"). New Nurse got it this time and it seemed like everything was going well.

About half way through the steroid infusion (second anti-nausea bag) my arm and hand started hurting. It helped to raise it up so New Nurse brought me a second pillow for support. She said the steroid rarely hurts - the Gemze is more likely to hurt. (that's the next bag). 

Between bags, Chemo Nurse stopped by to check the needle placement and said it was in the vein and working properly - something about back-flow. Sure enough the Gemzee did hurt so they slowed the pump which helped. The Carboplatin wasn't supposed to hurt - and it didn't - but they kept the pump slowed just in case. This meant an extra hour in the chair but the time goes fast.  Debi is there to fetch anything I need, to talk, to play games (haven't had time so far), makes the time go.

The novelty of the rest of the weeks experience is worn off already. The first two days (remaining Tuesday and Wednesday) I am busy keeping busy. I get a lot done on my woodworking projects and any other jobs that are waiting. This burst of energy lasts until around Thursday noon when I crash. I sleep. Wake up and feel tired and 'crappy' and then go back to sleep some more. It seems like the first week I got better after a couple days but this week it's held on through Saturday.

Saturday is better and I do get some work done. I sawed up the tops for two more stools and gathered some more acorns (squirrels had broken into my stash and eaten half a pickle pail of red oak acorns). I had to beg out of a birthday party for my grandson in Chicago. After the fact, I am glad I did. It would've been tough.

So, week 5 in a nutshell:
  1. Back in the program. 
  2. Novelty has worn off. 
  3. Reality check with the IV's (next time I ask for Chemo Nurse to stick me).
  4. When I say 'I feel fine' it means I'm not physically ill at the moment. Chemo lowers your standards for what feeling fine means. 
  5. I miss the Grandkids.