Enterococcus faecium

 

It was the wind down to Memorial weekend.  I had been quite busy, pushing myself a bit physically.  I had just assumed my tiredness was due to my over exertion and the probability that my hemoglobin had dropped, but as I sat there with everyone, trying to stay in the moment, something felt off for me.  Just not right.

At first I thought it was the pizza I ate.  It didn’t seem to be agreeing with my stomach.  I got up to use the bathroom and then went and laid down hoping that I could recharge a bit. After a few minutes I rejoined the group, but noticed I felt very, chilled.  I thought it was sort of odd that I kept having continuous shivers, sending my skin into explosions of tiny goosebumps.  No one else looked or seemed to be chilled.

But I have always been sensitive to the slightest movement of air dancing across my skin.

Maybe that was all it was, but the longer I sat there, the more the chill was sinking deeper into my body.

I headed back to the safety of my bed and curled underneath the blankets, trying to trap any heat that may escape.  In my head, I tried to ration all the possibilities to why my body was reacting the way it was.  Was it just shock from pushing myself too much the past three days?  Was this just my body’s way of saying enough?  Was the effects of the pizza the last straw and sending my body into shut down mode?

I took my temperature.  It’s a little high.  Half hour later, it’s still climbing.  I’m praying it doesn’t shoot above 100.3.  Anything over that and it’s a necessary trip to the hospital. I still can’t get warm.

One last check and the thermometer goes off with urgent beeping, informing me that I have crossed the threshold into the range of the 100’s.  101.8 to be exact.

Not good for someone with a compromised immune system.

We are on our way to the ER.

They start me on some generic antibiotic in the Emergency Room, which they kept me on for a few days after being admitted back onto the third floor of the Seidman cancer center. Sending me back to the Cancer floor is typical protocol for anyone in my position.  I had to be monitored and watched.  Make sure the infection didn’t spread or get worse.  It was determined that I had caught some sort of bacterial infection that was in my blood. What it was exactly, they weren’t sure of.  They had to wait for results and run more tests.

For the most part I felt fine.  Fatigued, but that is nothing new for me. However, I could not escape the chills that would grip me in the early morning for the first few days I was there.  It was almost clockwork. Every morning around four in the morning, it would start.  I would shiver and my teeth would chatter.  I would turn the heat of my room up into the 80’s, crawl under all the blankets and shake violently.  I’d contort my body as much as possible, trying to absorb any body heat I was losing back into myself.  Burrowing under the blankets.   Waiting for the cold to pass so I could once again drift off to sleep.

By the time the nurse came in for my morning meds, it felt like a sauna in my room.

In my head, I figured I would be in the hospital five days at the most.  Get the antibiotic, and get out.   But the bacteria couldn’t be so easily identified.  They knew what family it belonged to, but couldn’t pinpoint which strand it was and what it’s particular sensitivities were.  So until they could figure that out and what to send me home on, I was stuck in the hospital.  For most of my stay, I either napped or walked around the floor and grounds.  I can tell you that by day five, I was becoming incredibly bored.  There’s only so much day time T.V. one can stand.

In the meantime, because the infection was in my blood, my PICC line had been compromised.  They felt best that they just pull it out and stick an IV in until they could figure out what to do with me.  I was never so glad to see it gone, but also was quite appreciative of the ease the PICC offered.  Now instead of just effortlessly pulling blood from the PICC, I had to be poked and prodded every time someone needed blood samples.  Which was pretty often.

The first IV blew.  The second one had to be placed near the crook of my arm because no other veins seemed viable or accessible.  Any time I bent my right arm in the slightest it would pinch and burn, so I would have to try and keep it straight as possible.  This made doing some activities cumbersome, mostly because I am right hand dominate.

It turned out that whatever strain of bacteria I had only had a sensitivity to a specific type of antibiotic that had to be administered through IV.   It was decided that I would need to get another PICC line to go home with so I could administer the antibiotic.

Of course the thought of having to get another PICC wasn’t pleasing.  The nurse had a hell of a time getting the damn thing in.  My veins were too small.  The one she did find, closed up.  It’s hard to relax when you have someone poking at you and trying to shove a tube up your arm.  Another one she tried was wrapped in nerves which sent a jolting electric pain down my arm into my fingertips.  The stinging and burning of the lidacain for every attempt.  It wasn’t fun.

I was sent home with my new PICC and home health care came out to show me how to administer the antibiotic.  It really wasn’t that hard.  All you had to do was make sure that you didn’t push all the liquid through at once, timing the plunges with in a two minute span.  By the time I was finished with the antibiotic 9 days later, I began to feel a lot more peppy.   The Dr. even pulled the second PICC out on my last visit.  So as of today, I am PICC free.

I have to say that even though it was a sucky experience in the grand scheme of a sucky event, I have been quite lucky in regards to the lack of infections that could have over taken my body during this whole ordeal.  Too often I read stories of others going through what I am going through, and they seem to be afflicted with some bacteria or another on a continuing basis.  Or the bacteria isn’t responding to the treatment.  Considering that this was only my second time really coming down with anything, I’d have to say that I did pretty good through out this whole shit show that cancer has tried to drag me down into.

I almost feel that cancer was like “Hey!  This girl isn’t going down!”  and tried  sending it’s goons out to scare me into submission.  Break my knee caps so to speak so I’d pay up and give in to it’s whims.

Silly cancer.  It obviously doesn’t know who it’s messing with.  It’s gonna take a lot more than some bacterias to bring this girl down….and even then, I’m not going down with out a fight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 Day Song Challenge: Blood.

Day 05 – A song that has a new meaning to you every time you hear it.

I hate you for the sacrifices you made for me
I hate you for every time you ever bled for me
I hate you for the way you smile when you look at me
I hate you for never taking control of me

I hate you for always saving me from myself
I hate you for always choosing me and not someone else
I hate you for always pulling me back from the edge
I hate you for every kind word you ever said
I’ll bleed you dry now

Blood, blood, blood
Pump mud through my veins
Shut your dirty, dirty mouth
I’m not that easy

Blood, blood, blood
Pump mud through my veins
I’m a dirty, dirty girl
I want it filthy

Blood, blood, blood
Pump mud through my veins
Shut your dirty, dirty mouth
I’m not that easy

Blood, blood, blood
Pump mud through my veins
I’m a dirty, dirty girl
I want it filthy

I love you for everything you ever took from me
I love the way you dominate and you violate me
I love you for every time you gave up on me
I love you for the way you look when you lie to me
I love you for never believing in what I say
I love you for never once giving me my way
I love you for never delivering me from pain
I love you for always driving me insane
I’ll bleed you dry now

Blood, blood, blood
Pump mud through my veins
Shut your dirty, dirty mouth
I’m not that easy

Blood, blood, blood
Pump mud through my veins
I’m a dirty, dirty girl
I want it filthy

Blood, blood, blood
Pump mud through my veins
Shut your dirty, dirty mouth
I’m not that easy

Blood, blood, blood
Pump mud through my veins
I’m a dirty, dirty girl
I want it filthy

(I hate you, I hate you, I love…)

Blood, blood, blood
Pump mud through my veins
Shut your dirty, dirty mouth
I’m not that easy

Blood, blood, blood
Pump mud through my veins
I’m a dirty, dirty girl
I want it filthy

Blood, blood, blood
Pump mud through my veins
Shut your dirty, dirty mouth
I’m not that easy

Blood, blood, blood
Pump mud through my veins
I’m a dirty, dirty girl
I want it filthy

I hate you for every time you ever bled for me

The first time i heard this song, I thought it was about a chick who was being sarcastic about her partner.

For instance, the whole 1st half of the song are things that her partner doesn’t do, and then the second half would be the things that her partner actually does.

The more I listen to it, I then began to think about how its the nature of some people and how sometimes, they want one thing and not the other. . .Maybe they thought they wanted a “good guy” but as it goes along, they just end up resenting that person for being too “good”.

Meanwhile, they are yearning for someone to come along to treat them like shit. . .There are those masochists, who seek out the drama, and doomed to fail partners because of the excitement, mystery and never ending guessing.  I hate to point it out, because of how explicitly cliche, yet true in some cases, but with some people, the more you treat them like shit, the more they want to be with you.

Some people thrive on that shit.

Then I thought, well maybe it’s about a girl, who is struggling between wanting to be a “good” girl and not that “dirty slut” lurking just underneath the surface, and whoever she is with, is making her compromise in ways she is not yet comfortable with, but still curious and excited about.

Now I am at the point where I just thing that this song is about how crazy some people are, and certain relationships magnify this “crazy”.  Nothing is ever good enough.  Nothing is ever right.  They want you to just “know” They don’t want to take responsibly for their actions, and deflect that YOU are the one that is the problem.  and well. . . Fuck that.

Bitches be crazy.

Oh, and I think this chick is super f’n hot.