Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chemo, Round 4...Yeah, I'm Over It

Friday was my 4th round of chemo. For those of you actually keeping track, it should have been on Thursday, but I swapped days to buy myself some time see my daughter's theatrical debut in the school play. I was required to wear the Katy Perry wig because said daughter has started calling me "Patchy." "No really mom, I love you, and I think you look great, but you are kind of patchy." Fine, hint taken. But it was nice to be out and she really did rock the stage as quite the sassy milkmaid (Aesop's Fables).

First off, I am so over this whole cancer/chemo/sick person thing. SO. OVER. IT. You wake up on chemo days knowing exactly what you are in for in about 48 hours, and yet you still have to do it. It sucks! Enough said.

The highlight of my day is always the visit from my favorite pharmacist gal. I love how she pops in and says "hi" and sits and chats about whatever (including the craziness of the day or some of the things listed below). Or the crazy teenage boy...or the daughter's school play...doesn't matter. She always takes the time to chat. And if she does this with everyone, and remembers all the details for all of us, then she is pretty amazing! Today's joke was that my gorgeous view outside, which could have been the remarkably sunny, blue skies, was actually the beautiful cement wall surrounding the hospital. 

But I did learn some things today that would have been nice to know before now:

(1) See the last post regarding my complete loss of taste buds and how I probably could have prevented this with a few easy steps. Grrr.

(2) The squeaky wheel gets the grease! Every time we go, the process tends to take HOURS longer than it is supposed to. And I am always so nice. "Don't worry, I'm enjoying my book, whenever you get to it." Yep, I'm probably done being that patient. Friday we came a little early, because I wanted to be home in time to do the actress' hair and makeup before the show. All I had to do was say this to a sympathetic doctor and surprise! Blood draws were moved up, labs were rushed, and an empty chair was magically found. I was out the door earlier than normal, and even got home before school got out. (I wasn't expecting to be home until 5pm).

(3) I finally saw some lab results from a blood draw. Good news: my white blood cell count is off the charts..."amazing" was the word they used. Well, not amazing for you, but amazing for a cancer patient who's being poisoned. In fact, this round of Neulasta shot should be my last. HALLELUJAH! And these high numbers are probably why I've been feeling so much bone pain. Too many white blood cells and no where for them to go. Bad news: red blood cell count not great. Not bad yet, but close. Was compared to a gas tank...25 would be empty 45+ would be 1/2 full. My number is 31. This above all else explains why I'm so exhausted. Why I have to sit down halfway through a shower. Why walking 4 blocks in the neighborhood wipes me out for days. Unfortunately, I have to get this number back up and the only way to do so is to exercise. Damn, just when I was getting used to being a sloth. That couch has a comfortable cushion nicely shaped to my butt.

(4) The weight gain has been explained. Okay, besides being a sloth (see above), I did not realize that they were also shooting me up with steroids at these chemo infusions. (Seriously people, send me a detailed email with all this information. No one, especially someone suffering from chemo brain, should realistically be expected to retain these details). My favorite pharmacy gal laughed at me when I was complaining about gaining 4-5 pounds through this process. It happens to everyone (that doesn't get violently ill). And it won't go away until chemo is done. I am done blaming my lazy ass for this weight gain...It's the steroids! (At least, that's the story I'm selling).

(5) Just when you think paperwork can't get more stupid...HA! So now, you have to fill out a form every time you go in (name, birth date, etc.) and check the boxes that correspond to new symptoms that you are feeling. But if you aren't feeling any new ailments? You still have to fill out the form and write, "no new symptoms." Holy crap! And I now have to SPELL my first, middle, and last name, as well has give my birth date EVERY TIME someone speaks to me. And the trifecta? You now have to wear a sticker around that proves you've been "screened" for cold and flu. The sticker, which is just printed on a laser printer label that can be found at any paper supply store, says, "It's Friday and I've been screened for cold and flu." There's a new one for every day of the week. And if you aren't wearing it somewhere visible, they won't let you back (patient, family, visitor, staff member...everyone gets to play). What's funny about this? Want to know what the screening process is? "Are you experiencing any cold or flu symptoms today?" Answer "no" and you get a sticker. Or print them up yourself at home, I guess. Now, as annoying as this new feature is, I feel most sorry for all the staff that have to wear these EVERY DAY while at work. No thank you. 

So this is my most recent fun. I'll try and post pictures of the play. Did not get a picture with the milkmaid while she was in costume...bummer. 

Off to curl up in a dark room for the next few days and hope no one comes to bother me. Especially if they smell!

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