December 10, 2005

…which means, O Best Beloveds, that there are only 16 more to go! Hey, put it that way and…it sounds like a really long time.

Time consuming is going to be the hallmark characteristic of this particular cancer hoo-hah, I predict, based on my thus-far week and a day’s experience. Between blood draw day, and chemo day, and hungover from chemo day, and symptons days–lots of hours get wasted. Day One, post-chemo, as previously reported, wasn’t much of anything, and yesterday was the same, but post-Ativan grog in both cases made my writing suspect, which limited my usefulness in the world. But Sat and Sun of last week, the whole weird stomach issues emerged; I didn’t feel precisely queasy, but I sure needed to nibble something bland and from the carb family pretty much all day long. Luckily, a couple mouthfuls each time sufficed. Speaking of mouths, that “I’ve been sucking on fiberglass insulation” feeling, that peculiar roughness of inner gum that makes me constantly aware I have a mouth, and a tongue, and renders most food like unto sawdust, has also returned. It took some weeks, last go-around, for this side effect to manifest itself. That it has shown up so early this time, complete with a sore-like lump on one of my gums, doesn’t bode well for food porn reportage for the immediate Merry Maladies future. Also, Sunday night, I woke up around 1am with shooting leg pains and a tendency to thrash about. I wanted to take something for it, but I had work in the morning, and then later, a class (it was my last week of school, and I didn’t want to miss it, partly because I wanted to see the semester through, partly because I enjoy school, and mostly because if I’m missing class now, that sets a bad precedence for next semester), so I squirmed and was unhappy until about 4am when I tried ativan to get me to sleep. This worked, but for the next couple of days, I would occasionally get a sudden sharp pain in one leg or another, that would cause it to buckle.

If any of this sounds overly bad or dramatic, that’s just a failure of my writing abilities. It’s not that bad, but the side effects are more prominent right now than I would have expected, and that awareness is probably compounded by the knowledge that this is just the beginning, and so what does that mean in terms of cumulative effect? Perhaps nothing; last time, some of the immediate chemo effect lessened over time, even as some of the physical symptoms got worse.

Anyway, by Tues and Weds I was feeling pretty keen, and by Thursday even more so, though a rush to finish last minute work meant I didn’t have time to take walks as I intended; I’m quite conscious of my inclination to just lie down for the next six months, and that’s a very bad plan. So, you can see; it feels like I have about three good strong days out of every seven. I’m hoping I will just adjust and be able to increase my productive days, once I get used to it all.

Chemo Day went faster this time around; on week 2, I get only the chemo (still can’t spell its name), while weeks 1 and 3 are in combination with Avastin, which apparently shrinks blood vessels, preventing blood from getting to the tumors. So week 2 delivery goes faster–only about an hour, including pre-meds, which we agreed will always include anti-nausea goop. She gave me benedryl again, along with IV ativan to stop leg thrashing; that wasn’t quite enough, so she gave me some more along the way. I’m going to see if we can stop the Benedryl next week. Meanwhile, the chemo room got very crowded–there are only four chairs in this office (the office is moving to apparently posher digs in January or February) and so Steve had to shift to a stool next to me. On my other side was a woman who has been dealing with this on and off for ten years, and is of the sort who wears a wig and hasn’t told her office what she’s going through, for fear of discrimination. Clearly, she’s a much tougher cookie than I (see: above inclination to nap for six months), given her apparently ability to suck up any tendency to whinge or give in to symptoms or the urge to lie down, and to carry on with business as usual. Though I have to say that while I didn’t know she was wearing a wig from the back, I certainly did from the front, and I wonder about the observational powers of her coworkers, and how much they really don’t know.

Once the Ativan kicked in, I drifted off as usual, making me the only one; this was one set of chatty cancer chicks. This time, though, I never lost total consciousness because of an animated conversation taking place over me that would startle me awake every few minutes. But given it was between the aforementioned Mighty Tough Cookie, who deserves to have whatever she wants to make her chemo-receiving experience pleasant for her, and Steve, who deserves whatever he wants to keep the chemo-companionship experience less than total tedium, there wasn’t much I felt could do. Besides, bless all their hearts; it says a great deal about the progression of treatment that over the years, the women around me have gone from looking stricken and sad to whooping it up on chemo day.

This time, we stopped at Foster’s Freeze, and I think it was really good, but I can’t quite remember. And then it was pork fried rice for dinner.

No, I can’t explain it,