Side Effects- Cancer Can Suck a Dick

I’ve had a headache now for about four days.  It hurts some days to sit up, let alone stand up.  I can’t have Tylenol.  Oxycodone makes me puke.  So you just sleep and hope it goes away.  Sometimes it does.. sometimes it doesn’t.

There is a whooshing sound in my head/ears.  Everything sounds tinny at times.  Listening to music sounds weird.  It’s become a point of why bother?

My throat became so swollen that I couldn’t talk or swallow.  I missed out on stuffing my face with lots of Thanksgiving goodness.  In fact my espohagus is still pretty sore when I swallow.  I have to still take tiny bites and chew and chew so I can swallow comfortably.  The Dr’s want me to start drinking that Ensure crap because they seem to think I have no appetite.  They are mistaken.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much I want all the food in my face.

My hair has begun to fall out.   Today alone I brushed the amount of a small Pomeranian off my head.  It just wouldn’t stop.  Tomorrow I am just shaving it off.  Ironically enough, every other body hair is hanging steadfastly on.

It’s really the above that is kind of driving me a bit batty.  Making me a bit whiny.   A lot whiny.  I feel at times that I’ve come so far, that all of the above is nothing compared to the grand scheme of things.    This is the cake walk.   The chemo is done.  I’m just biding time till I build back up my white blood cells to see where we are with things.   But it’s also the above that act like a mosquito in the room that attacks you while you’re asleep.  Flying by your ear, buzzing loudly and feasting upon your blood unbeknownst to you.  Leaving you to wake in the morning with itchy welts upon your skin.

Dick mosquito.

This has been the part of the journey that has been the most tested.  My patience at least.  I’m longing to get back to somewhat of what was my life before all this.  Especially the eating part.  I want food.  Did I mention this?  I’m kind of over being “sick” and dealing with all the side effects and treatments.  It’s old and boring and you know…I have stuff to do.

Yes.  Yes.  I knew there would be these…side effects.  Yes.  Yes.. I knew my hair would fall out.  But until it happens, you can never really gauge how you will react till you’re in that moment, pulling wad after wad of hair out of your brush asking when will it just stop coming out?   I think I am more upset at the rate it came out today.  Not that I’m actually losing it.  But we shall see how I feel tomorrow when the clippers come out.

But chin up.  Looking sharp I shall.  Cause that’s all one can do at this point.  I can’t get to defeated or too whiny.  It’s just a day.  And tomorrow is another day.  And each day, each moment actually, is just one more moment closer for me to not having to deal with any of this bullshit.

My recovery is now.  In fact my recovery started the moment I became sick.

And that’s the only way I choose to look at this.

This is my recovery.

This is all a part of my recovery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chemo and Such- Cancer Can Suck a Dick.

I’m halfway through my first round of chemo.

They started me out on three days of three-hour intervals over a 12 hour span.
So they would give me chemo for three hours, then give me a three-hour reprieve, do another three hours and then give me a 12 hour break till the next go around.

It was tiring, but I got through it relatively speaking.

After that, I was on 48 hours of straight chemo.

Yeeeaahhh.

I can’t even articulate the feelings and sensations of that whole experience.

I was completely wiped out. My body was fighting. That’s all I knew.

I wasn’t exactly nauseous. They were giving me meds for that, so that’s probably good….but I still felt a sense of sickness. It just wasn’t like anything I had ever experienced. Not the waves of immediate paucity to expel the depths of my deepest bowels for that moment of calm respite. It was…weird. In fact the only times I actually did spill the contents of my stomach was after I was given oxycodone to help ease the pain of the bone marrow biopsy and then again after they did a spinal tap. Fucking oxycodone. Fuck that shit.

Sleep hasn’t been all that restful.  Even in sleep I could feel myself fighting.  Pushing through, trying to send my cells the energy they needed to do what they need to do.  My dreams were dark and almost comatose.  Fleeting images and voices floating in and out.  I was continually waking up soaked, drenched with sweat which reeked of chemo.  My pillows stained with that wetness and smell.  My clothes and hair clinging to my body.   It was like having a fever dream….but with out the fever.

On top of all that, they were pumping me full of lasix to get rid of the water weight.  At the start of the cycle I was up every ten to fifteen minutes to pee.  As it wore on, time lapsed, but sleep was always interrupted by the need to expel the contents of my bladder.   I think I was up at least every other hour having a pee.  If it wasn’t the lasix, then it was the fluids they were pumping me full of.

 

The combination of being tired and just …..fighting, wears on me emotionally at times. Depending on the day I am having, anyone walking into my room can be met with watery eyes and just the need for understanding. The understanding that even though I am a tough cookie…I am allowed to still be scared, tired and just done with what is going on.

I think maybe that is the hardest part. To just let myself be vulnerable and say at moments that you know, I’m tired of being strong. I just wanted someone to take my hand and let me be..just be..in that moment and know that it is ok.

After the 48 hours I had a few days of no chemo.  Maybe a small bag here and there, but after that 48 hour one….I definitely had this shit in the bag.  That was until it was decided that I needed to have a lumbar puncture where they would draw some spinal fluid and inject a shot of chemo into my spinal fluid. It’s a precautionary procedure, as the cancer could sneak into the fluid and there would be no way of traditional chemotherapy could get to ii.

The thought of a needle being stuck into my spine really threw me into a panic. It was here where I felt I truly wimped out. I tried to stay calm. But when it came down to it, I cried and broke down.  Crying in front of the doctors and shaking like a leaf.

Thank goddess they let the boyfriend and my uncle stay in the room to hold my hands during the procedure. I don’t know how else I would have gotten through it.

The procedure went fine. But it was still intense for me. Sure I couldn’t “feel” anything. But I could feel the pressure… and stuff moving about. It just wasn’t fun.   I don’t like my spine t be touched with to begin with.   It just feels uncomfortable and weird.  Gives me the heebie jeebies.   Let alone sticking needles back there.

The day after I had the headache from hell. Which started to make me nauseous. They gave me the anti nausea medicine, but as far as the headache itself went, I can only take oxycodone, as Tylenol and ibuprofen can hide fevers which they need to keep an eye out for since my immune system has been wiped pretty low. I thought if maybe i took the shit on a full stomach I should be ok. I got in a few hours of sleep, woke up feeling ok and then all of sudden the urge to purge was imminent. Once that was over, my head hurt once again, if not worse. Back to square one. So it was a day of deep breathing and meditating to try to move over the hurdle.

And unfortunately, that will not be my only and last LP. I am to have them every month.

So. whoowhoo.

This next leg of treatment involves having to take a bunch of steroids at night. I hate them. 15 little green pills that dissolve into acidic bitterness the minute they touch my tongue. Or get stuck in my throat and dissolve there, sending my gag reflex into action. But I guess considering the other parts of treatment, this is the cake walk.

So far my prognosis looks good. I am progressing along nicely. Though the Dr’s did come back and say that a bone marrow transport is in my near future. At first they didn’t think I would need it so soon….if i needed it at all, but there is this thing called the Philadelphia gene that I only have half of. And while only having half of the gene is better than having the whole shebang, I think they still want to be as proactive as possible.

I’ll get more into that gene business later. As I still have many questions in regards to that one, and really need to learn to articulate the delicate processes that are involved with how those genes seek each other and dance with one another.

My support circle is unbelievably incredible. I can’t even fathom where I would be without every one. They truly are the force behind my fight in all this. I am so blessed. I can’t stress this enough. It amazes me on a daily basis. Even the kindness of strangers opens my heart wide with awe and love.
Loved ones aiding me in my call to arms.

It’s such a beautiful thing. I get so weepy just thinking about it. The gratitude that fills my soul is unlike anything I have ever felt, and definitely the catalyst for the strength needed to kick this bullshit disease.

So I continue to push. I continue to focus. Continue to fight.

fuck_cancer_hey_cancer_fuck_postcards_package_o

The Build Up- Cancer Can Suck a Dick.

I noticed a few months back that I was feeling kind of…tired.

I thought as first it was because I had run out  of my anti- depressants and was having a hard time getting them renewed due to the fact that my prescribing physician, left his practice.

I had to scramble to find a new Dr, who agreed that could be the reason and just to make sure things were ok, ordered up a blood test just to make sure.  The results came back fine.

Life went on.  I was busy with performances.  Finished up a play I was in.  Had quite a few Burlesque shows…and all the while during the month of October I kept noticing how a little more tired I felt.  A little more winded doing the simple things.

I also began to notice that my back was a bit sore.  The pain would start in the back of my hip area and then radiate out towards the front.  There were days I was hobbling about.  Losing sleep. Making best friends with the heating and sucking down ibuprofen like it was candy.

I felt like I had a uti that had developed into a kidney infection.   The pain got so bad one weekend that I could barely walk. On top of all that I felt slightly feverish.  I took warm bath after warm bath to help ease the pain, on top of nestling with the heating pad and ingesting more Ibuprofen.

I called into my urologist and got the soonest appointment I could.  They wrote me up a script for Cipro, took a urine culture and sent me on my way.  Said it would be 24 hours till the results would be in.

In the meantime, I thought it could also be a problem with a tumor I might have in my pelvis area.  The pain felt very reminiscent to some of the tumor growths I’ve had before.  So I got on the horn and made an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon to make sure nothing was out of whack.

In the meantime, my urine culture came back negative for any kind of infection.

Once at the my Ortho appointment, I had some x-rays taken and nothing showed any signs that the tumor in my pelvis was growing or impeding in any way.  But it still didn’t explain the pain I was having or why I was feeling fatigued.  I was told to go to physical therapy to help manage the pain.

Not satisfied with this, I asked to see a Spine specialist due to the fact that i also have Scoliosis.  I thought maybe my spine could be shifting in such a way that it could be pushing something out of whack.  Another appointment was made and a few days later I was back in front of another specialist telling me that the curvature of my spine, while slight and nothing to be concerned about, was not the issue and to again…..go to physical therapy to work with the pain.

Back to square one in a sense, I racked my brain for the cause of my fatigue….which was becoming worse.  walking up the stairs to my apartment was a struggle.  Putting socks on and I had to stop and catch my breath.   It was getting ridiculous.

I thought back to my last menstrual cycle and thought about how heavy it had been.   Something that was not the norm for me.  I began to wonder if all that loss of blood had somehow affected me in some way and perhaps I was becoming pre-menopausal.

Before I could get make an appointment for the Gyno, I then began to notice these headaches I was getting.   They would start in the back of my head around the base and spread to right above my ears.  It was here that I noticed that my lymph nodes were very swollen.  About the size of peas.  I immediately called my primary care physician and made another appointment to see him.

He prescribed antibiotics for the swollen glands, felt it was a good idea to follow-up with the gyno on my heavy period being the source of my malaise and fatigue and just on the off-chance decided to do another blood draw.

That was last Monday.

The following Tuesday I got in to see the Gyno, but was told that she couldn’t do anything due to the fact that I had started bleeding again.   Two weeks after my last period.  Again….not the norm for me.  We rescheduled for a week later to do an ultra sound.  I left the appointment feeling incredibly frustrated.   However I also felt like maybe my swollen lymph nodes were an indication that my body was fighting off an infection that was the source of my now extreme fatigue.

A few hours later I got a call from my Primary care physician’s office asking that I come in right away.  They had gotten my blood test results in and the Dr. wanted to speak to me personally.   It was very important and I would probably have to be hospitalized.

My mother and boyfriend met me at the office and It was explained to us that my platelet count was so low.  The norm was around 20.  I was at 6.  My red blood cell count was also low.  He had a bed waiting for me at the local hospital and I needed a transfusion at once.

I was checked in and I was immediately given blood.

The next day my Primary Care Physician came in to check on me.  He looked incredibly concerned.  He started out that i wasn’t his area of expertise, so he couldn’t give me all the answers I needed, but it was looking like I had Leukemia.

Later in the day the hematologist on duty came in to confirm that it was, and that it would be best to have me transferred to the cancer center downtown where they could perform all the necessary tests and make the correct diagnosis and start my treatment asap.

I was transported here to the cancer hospital early Wednesday morning and that’s where I’ve been since.

It’s a surreal feeling knowing that I have this.  Mostly because….Why?  Why do I have this?  Why did I develop this?  I was a pretty healthy active person.  There’s no history of it in my family, so where the hell did it come from?

Of course the ego and humaness in me is quite upset about the water weight gain I’ve experienced in just a few short days (as my weight has jumped up at least 11 lbs) and the impending loss of my hair…But that’s why there is a whole incredible world of wigs out there right?  a wig to match your mood.   That could be fun.

My outlook is incredibly positive.  I refuse to give in to this disorder one bit.   Sure the chemo is tiring.  I’m being pumped with all kinds of drugs.  I have to pee like every 2 hours it seems….if not more so when they give me the lascix to help with the water retention….then that’s about every fifteen minutes.   I’m not especially hungry….even though the 15 steroid pills they give me at night are supposed to help with that….but I’m not hulking out or having to shave my face 😛

I have the most incredible support system around me.  Family and friends who haven’t left my side for a minute.  Acquaintances sending their positive vibes and well wishes.  I am truly blessed to not have to go through this alone.  My gratitude is endless.

Yeah… Cancer picked the wrong girl to fuck with.   It’s definitely about to get it’s ass handed to it.