Super Triple Blasto Chemo Happy Happy Joy Go

April 22, 2006

That, O Best Beloveds, is what Rick says the Adventures of Cancer Chick, this episode anyway, would be called if it were an anime series. Rick’s funny.

Then again, everything is funny, since I’m hopped up on I don’t know what all. See, as you all may recall, I usually get chemo once a week for three weeks, then one week off, a plan that has worked overall quite nicely, except for the heck (not as bad as hell) it plays with my schedule. The whole thing then crashed when we realized that I would need the third chemo dose of this (number six out of eight total) round while in NOLA during Jazz Fest, which wasn’t a huge problem–medical services are back up enough, and Tulane could accommodate a Special Guest Chemo Patient–but there was further, tiresome scheduling needed (I would have needed chemo on Tuesdays, instead of Thursdays this round, so that I could have that final round several days before Fest; that meant needing a ride out to school for my Weds classes and possibly feeling icky during said class; no way to tell how efficient or not the possibly overloaded Tulane would be, thus losing still more time to this medical silliness; two full weekends where I might not feel my best, and while I went on sheer adrenaline for Mardi Gras there’s the chance it wouldn’t work that way two weekends in a row, etc.). Solution? Do it all in one blast. As a regular regimen, it’s pretty tough–hence the more time-consuming, but as these tales have revealed, much more endurable, every week dosage–but for just once, particularly since I’m already well broken into the stuff (or it’s broken me; whichever), it shouldn’t be a problem. Especially since Dr. W. loaded up my pre-meds with super anti-nausea goop, and added a whole host of other things–Emend for more tummy issues, decadron (the steroid) for I’m not sure what (agreed to since it was only one small short dose, so no chance of usual steroid blow up), fiber to keep my innards moving, and probably more.

And so far, so good,kinda. Chemo day started out the usual–Steve and I breeze into the room in the manner of entering a 1930’s cocktail party (perhaps me more than him, but he plays along beautifully), chatting up the other patients, gossiping with the nurses, no chocolate or cupcake handouts this time (Easter and my birthday, respectively) but I did bring Hello! to which I’ve now addicted the entire office. Chemo Nurse Lisa hooked me up, found an easy vein, and off we go. Now, sometimes, the IV Ativan makes me dose, sometimes it only makes me sleepy, sometimes I’m pretty aware of what’s going on around me. This time? Out cold for the nearly three hours the extra infusion took. I mean, GONE. I don’t understand it, except that every week or so I seem to need a nap of epic proportions, the unstoppable nap, and it’s possible that that particular biorhythm coincided with this particular sleepytime med. Whatever; I woke up hours later feeling refreshed and shaky. Home to a Cuban roast pork sandwich (disappointingly dry) and a little ice cream, and then, as Pepys said, to bed.

Since then, shaky and looped has ruled the day. It’s still a little early in the game–if past typical once-every-three-weeks chemo memories hold true, things get a little worse a couple days after chemo, so I still don’t quite know what I’m in for. Right now, it’s a combo of mild flu and general malaise, both of which are bearable, just annoying. Mild body aches–I used to get much worse with the Taxitere/Xeloda combo (Cancer: The Return’s chemo combo of choice)–though that could still be coming. Not worried about that; I have plenty of pain meds to choose from, though again, shaky and looped. Weird tummy stuff–not exactly hungry, sort of hungry all the time, nothing sounds good to eat, need to eat–which I hope will resolve itself soon as it is not the sort of food subjects I enjoy obsessing over (see below for the sort I do!). Mouth dry all the time, and even drinking glass after glass of water doesn’t help. I understand the steroid can also make me cranky; Steve has been warned. I’m a little anxious about mouth sores or other mouth weirdness, since NOLA is coming up and the food thing cannot be denied. We will get to that, but let’s spend a couple of sentences recounting my current biological unpleasantness (or skip to the next graph if you prefer Fest previews instead); I have to travel with tissues as there hasn’t been a day I haven’t had a runny nose since this all started, and most of the time, it’s a bloody runny nose. Occasionally, this causes me to hork up blood, a party trick I’m trying to learn on command in case I need immediate sympathy favors from work or school. So very Camille of me. I have three eyelashes left on my left lid (“And two of those are loose!” as Claire said, hilariously and accurately, the last time this happened) and my brows are fairly well gone which means drawing them in fresh every single time I want to go out, which means my brows never look the same two days in a row. Or even at the same time–I’m not much of an artist. The first three nails on each of my hands are on and off oozing icky fluids (one day, they smelled so bad during class I almost left the room out of embarrassment) and are sometimes separating from the nail bed and sometimes not; either way, they are largely useless, so Steve has to open most things for me (bottles, packages) and on a few frustrating days, had to put my shoes and socks on for me. I’ve got neuropathy to varying degrees in fingers and toes, but Vitamin B seems to help. I’ve got some scaly skin action going on my hands–not sure what’s up with that, but lots of that Mary Kay pink stuff and shea butter lotion seems to help. Oh, and about four days after chemo, I break out like I was sixteen again. I ask you. All of this adds up to body dysmorphic disorder–there are just flatly days when I feel too hideous to leave the house, but luckily, school and some social obligations have meant I’ve had to sigh and go out anyway, though sometimes if you run into me and I don’t feel like talking, that’s why. I’d feel better under a burka.

But this still isn’t much compared to the two previous cancer big fun times, and after this super blasto happy happy round, I’m in the home stretch, though there are some whispered rumors of adding a little more, post-Euro trip. I’ll worry–and complain! Don’t forget that part!–when/if it happens. Now it’s only five days until NOLA, and we can see our house (nearly all finished with its post-storm repairs, including some improvements like a nice new laundry room) and housemates (always perfect; needs no improvement). Jazz Fest starts Friday, and for the first time ever, we all intend to be there as the gates open, because this is a Moment, for us, for our city. Between Springsteen’s Seager Sessions (and first Fest appearance), Allan Toussaint wth Elvis Costello, Fats “Reports of Flood Death Greatly Exaggerated” Domino closing Fest, other returnees like Irma Thomas and the Meters plus a host of local musicians who lost everything (houses and instruments and all) to the flood, this should be epic. Expect music porn. (By the way, Steve is doing a multi-times daily official AOL blog covering Fest so you can have up to the minute reports; will send the link as soon as he knows what it is.) After a couple of years of not doing much, restaurant reservation wise, we suddenly seem booked up all over the place, including at least two new restaurants (brave souls, to open new establishments in these still struggling post-K days), so expect lots of food porn. Speaking of, nothing like the knowledge that one is just six days away from a couchon de lait sandwich on the way to the gospel tent to get one through a little cranky and shaky, not to mention make one feel all the more happy happy joy go. Nothing like a carrot–or, more accurately, pork–on a stick to make Cancer Chick go through her paces.

Walkin’ (okay, flyin’) to New Orleans,