The Goings On.

Today I embark on round five of the chemo.   Once again my initial date for admittance was pushed back due to my counts being low, so I got the weekend off so to speak.

I learned that the type of treatment of chemo they have me on is called Hyper CVAD. It switches between two chemo regimens. Since this regimen is the odd number treatment it will be the following drugs:

Hyper is short for hyperfractionated. It means you have more than one treatment of the same drug given in a day.

Schedule A (cycles 1, 3, 5 and 7)
On the first day your nurse gives you two separate drips of cyclophosphamide 12 hours apart. They repeat this again on days two and three of treatment, so you have six doses in total. You’ll be given fluids through a drip before and after the cyclophosphamide. You may also be given a drug called mesna to help prevent bladder irritation. You start a course of dexamethasone tablets on day one, which you take for four days.
On day four you have vincristine and doxorubicin as a drip. You can usually go home the day after it finishes.
On day eleven you have vincristine again, usually in the chemotherapy day unit. You also start another four-day course of dexamethasone tablets (days 11-14).
You then have no treatment for the next week. This completes a cycle of Hyper-CVAD. Your next cycle will be Schedule B.

 

The last time I had the Schedule A I puked for two days? (Time becomes so relative when you are dry heaving.) Something I hadn’t experienced during the first go around of this.

However I have been feeling pretty good up to a point and hope that I will make it through Schedule  A, Round 5 with flying colors.

There is a second part to this chemo regiment as well.  Schedule B, or as I like to call them, The evens, which is what I just finished up about two and a half weeks ago.

Schedule B (cycles 2, 4, 6 and 8)

On the first day your nurse gives you methotrexate as a drip. The next day you usually start having a drug called folinic acid (Leucovorin) as a drip to reduce the side effects of methotrexate. You have it regularly with fluids until the methotrexate is out of your system.
On the second day and on the third day you have cytarabine as a drip given twice – 12 hours apart. You can usually go home after this if you are well enough and your methotrexate levels are okay. You then have no treatment for the next 18 days. This completes another cycle of Hyper-CVAD. Your next cycle will be schedule A again.
If you are having cytarabine and methotrexate by injection into the spinal fluid, your doctor or nurse will explain more about this. You usually have these on different days from the rest of your chemotherapy treatment.

My last cycle of chemo was an even (and halfway point…Hooray!)

I didn’t experience much of the side effects in the hospital during my last even round.  I had a headache before the chemo started and that was about it.

It’s when they start pulling the Methotrexate out of my body that makes me a bit nutty.  They like to see that you have gotten rid of most the Methotrexate before they send you home, and then have you continue to take the Leucovorin at home to pull out any remainder or residuals if you will.  This is when I feel like I am out my mind, cause I am on my own and don’t have the luxuries of fluids and sweet drugs dripping into my I.V.

At home I have to take 4 doses of the Leucovorin every six hours.  For some reason I get incredibly anxious and my mind starts racing about all the things I “think” I should be doing.  For instance, cleaning out the freezer.  Or reorganizing my underwear drawer.  The thoughts are almost imperative and gnawing, yet I lack the energy to really do anything.  So I sit and agonize over how I am not a productive person.

I’m not so much sure it’s the Leucovorin, as much as it’s the Methotrexlate.  Methotrexate is some serious stuff.  Once I finish up the Leucovorin, I tend to feel a lot better.  Mentally and emotionally.  Methotrexlate has the tendency to take me to some dark places.  Though for Round Four, I handled it way better than I did in Round two.

Round two I felt like I was dying.  I was so fatigued.  I also wasn’t taking the Leucovorin like I was suppose to that first day of being home.

In fact I was quite surprised how well I did with my last Even round, because those are the rounds that are the most taxing and difficult and I find myself feeling depressed and bitter over the quality of life and time that cancer has robbed from me deeply.

But this  time around I was more hip to the do’s and don’ts and was chugging along quite nicely until a few days ago when the lymph node right on the left side of the back of my head started to act up.  It wasn’t swollen, just very sore…and throbbing.  Made sleeping very difficult and because I am a side sleeper it made no difference to which side I laid on, it would just throb.  Sleep of course was interrupted, it hurt to sit up or lay down, and once again, it baffled my Dr, who could not give a good clear explanation, other than this is probably just a side effect of chemo, and you can never say with certainty why shit happens the way it does and oh hey, didn’t this happen before in a different area but once you started the chemo that round hadn’t it gone away cause of the steroids?  So maybe that will also be the case this time.

In the meantime he prescribed some lidocaine gel to help with the pain, but once applied…I felt nothing.  And I don”t mean nothing as in the lidocaine doing its job numbing up the joint….er or in this case, the lymph node.  I mean I didn’t feel the lidocaine work at all.  No tinglies…  No coolness… No numbness….Nothing.  Upon further inspection of the the drug information I read where it states this medication is ineffective on intact skin.  So a lot of good that did me.  Thanks Doc.

Luckily I had some steroids left over from a previous round, took a small dose of that and that seemed to do the trick.  You ask me I think the node was just inflamed for some dumb reason.  Maybe it sucks or is slow going at draining all the yuck from my body.  Maybe its just super sensitive to the chemo.

It’s amazing how in tune you become with your body during something like this.

Anyways where am I going with this?  I don’t know.  But there is all that jazz.

On the plus, it was figured out why I have been so fatigued and winded when I move about.  I am still anemic, so the Dr. upped my need for blood products.  Anytime I fall under my newly fixed level, I gets the blood, and let me tell you… It has made a world of difference. I feel like a vampire feeding for the first time in ages.   I have been able to get out a little bit more.  I’ve been able to do a little bit more around the house (like clean out the freezer and organize my underwear drawer.) and I even picked up my hoop here and there.  (which i must add how weak my leg muscles have become.  I can hardly shimmy up from my knees…if I can get the hoop around my knees to begin with.)

I also had another bone marrow biopsy ( not fun) but the results came back showing no cancer cells.  So it seems the chemo is doing it’s thing, and technically I am cancer “free” for now.  Of course the Dr’s won’t come out and say that I am in full remission until the treatments are done.  So kicking cancer in its dick is being accomplished.

I’m hoping, now knowing how to combat these chemo side effects a little more efficiently, that the rest of the treatments and recovery time will go by a bit smoother.  And after this treatment, there will only be 3 more left….and then two…and then none!

I know I am redundant in saying this, but I am quite antsy  in returning to a “normal” life.

And that’s not even the Metotrexlate talking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Waiting Game

 

Time.

It’s all I seem to have.  Or does it have me?

The thing about having cancer is time.  It robs you of it.

Everything is a wait game.  Wait to see if the chemo is working.  Wait for the nausea to stop.  Wait for the headaches to go away.  Wait for the results of such and such scan.  Wait to see what the Dr’s say.  Wait for the chemo to clear your body.  Wait for the next phase of treatment.  Wait for the cancer to be gone.  Wait wait wait wait.

Meanwhile, I feel life is passing me by.

It’s as if I am stuck in a holding cell with windows where I can peer out into the world but can’t really be a part of.

So many events happening that I would like to be a part of.  So many activities that I would like to join in on.  So many places I would love to go to.

Yet I can’t.  Or at times, should’t.  I’m to fatigued or  my white blood cell count is so low I become neutropenic, and large crowds are to be avoided.

I try not  to be bitter about my circumstances.  I am extremely blessed to have the support system I have and I seem to be kicking this in it’s stupid fuck face, but at times I find myself extremely frustrated that I can’t do more.

So I wait.