The Good, The Bad, The Chemo

March 19, 2012

The first chemo treatment was one week ago today.

The good:

these were on a shelf in my treatment room as helpful hair loss alternatives. really? who finds either of these options helpful?

There was absolutely no pain.  I have a prescription for some numbing cream that goes over the port site.  I didn’t feel the needle go in at all.  I had a private room for the first infusion, so AA and I each had our own overstuffed leather recliner to lounge in.  I told the nurse I was nervous before she started the infusion.  “Do you want something for anxiety?” she asked.  “Yes, please.”  I replied.  “I’ll take whatever you can give me.”  So she fed a bag of Ativan into my vein first.  Then some Benadryl (some people have an allergic reaction during their first treatment, so this was preventative).  And I was practically asleep before the real infusion began. I woke up on and off throughout the treatment, would try to read or knit, but would doze right back off.  I basically slept for 4 hours and then it was over.  AA drove me home and I slept for most of the rest of the day.

I have had zero nausea.  I’ve been able to eat regular meals all week.  I’ve been able to walk with my Omie Lou every day.  Everything about this experience so far has been much easier than I expected it to be.


The bad:

The fatigue is overpowering.  The headaches overwhelming.  For the past week I have not done much more than walk in the mornings, which zaps all of the energy I have, and then spend the rest of the day napping and watching movies on the couch.  Which has left me feeling just a little blue about things.  I should be using all this time to finish my thesis, work on the two scripts I need to be writing and the one I need to be memorizing.  But any effort I try to put into such tasks inevitably makes my vision blurry and sends waves of vertigo through my body.  No exaggeration.  Anything that requires concentration makes everything above the neck hurt.  So I’ve felt kind of like a waste of space.  I know that in actuality, I am not.  My body is busy fighting for it’s life.  Of course I am tired.  But when it’s 70 degrees outside with bright sunny skies, it’s difficult not to feel like 7 days in a row on the couch are 7 wasted days of life.  Which is where the blues creep in.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am grateful that these are the only side effects I am dealing with.  (Okay… these and a bit of a rash on my upper body… which is that allergic reaction I spoke of earlier.)  I know lots of people who go through chemo deal with much worse.  I just need to come up with some sort of a plan for the 1st week following each chemo treatment so that I still feel productive, purposeful.  And I’m gonna make it a point to lean just a little harder on the people who love me during that time so that I feel much more yellow.  (Which is the opposite of blue in my world, in case you didn’t know.)


The chemo:

I had labs done today to see what this is doing to my body.

I did everything right this week.  Twelve glasses of fluids a day.  Ten servings of fruits and vegetables.  Lots of zinc heavy foods.  The right amount of protein.  Tons of Vitamin C.  It didn’t matter.  Labs were not good today.

My white blood cell count needs to sit in between a 4.0 and a 10.6.  Mine are at a 1.2.  My red blood cell count needs to stay between 4.7 and 6.0.  Mine are at 3.9.  (I don’t know what these numbers actually mean… I just know this is the range and mine do not fall within that range.)  This is danger town.  Someone could sneeze on me, I could get pneumonia, my body would not be able to fight it… you get the picture.

I am so disappointed in my body.  I know this is not my fault.  I know this is what happens.  But it is hard not to feel like my body has just given up.  Decided not to fight back.

I had a harsh talk with it today and told it to get in gear.

It will listen.

My doctor wants me to avoid being around other people until the blood cell counts are back up and has given me some face masks to wear whenever I have to be out.  (This is not happening.)  He also wants to start giving me shots of something that will bring the blood cell counts up… but I don’t want to take this medication.  It messes up your bone marrow and they aren’t sure about long term effects… everything about it screams BAD to me.

But the cell counts have to raise, or I can’t have any more treatments.

So… this week… I’m upping the vitamins and the zinc heavy foods and I am willing my blood cell counts to rise.  It will happen.  Seriously.  Let’s all focus some energy on this thing together and it will happen.  Okay?

End cancer chapter 8.



8 Responses to “The Good, The Bad, The Chemo”

  1. Kate Says:

    Sending happy thoughts, positive energy, lots of love and earnest prayers in your direction.

  2. Scott Zeigler Says:

    I’m glad your posting this info gwen. All I want to do is visit and say hi but I guess I’ll just have to wait till this blows over. Cause I definitely don’t wash my hands enough for us to hang. Thinking of you.
    -scott Z

  3. T wiseman Says:

    It will happen and this will just be a small hiccup. Keep rocking it!

  4. Susan Larissa Says:

    Simply said… you amaze me. Warm thoughts and big hugs… (behind a mask and you in the bubble) to recover fast.

  5. Sarah Pate Says:

    This poem always makes me very happy. I’m hoping it will deliver some positive energy.

  6. Pablo Says:

    If I could give you some of my zinc I would, but I’m not even sure where I would extract it from. Also, I’m pretty sure that would gross you out.

  7. jackie p Says:

    Sending your body some tough love and telling it to get those white and red cell counts UP UP UP!

    Half of the battle is in the attitude, which you have in the bag.

    love you times a million.

  8. Paula Says:

    I am celebrating my one year anniversary of my last chemo. I can relate to all that you say and feel. Take the shot to bring up your blood count. It will stimulate your bone marrow and produce those blood cells. I had 17 of those shots and am thankful for each one. Your job now is to rest, recover and to focus on you. Eveything else can and must wait. It will take all of your strength to just get through this. Each treatment will make you a bit weaker. I remember the feeling of my body betraying me, and realizing that I did not have the power to make it react as I wanted or to respond as I needed. The biggest lesson from this experience will be to learn that you are not in charge. Roll with it, and realize this journey is not in your hands. Best of luck to you.

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