Finally getting a handle on what to take when

After a rough week, things seem to be getting stabilized, and the remaining three cycles of chemo may go more smoothly.

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Well, I’m still here, though there’ve been times in the last few days I didn’t think I would be.

After, what, four days? of struggling to get my gut under control and losing ground all the while, I finally called the doctor yesterday and they told me to come in. I was running a slight fever, off and on, and their rule is that I’m to call if it hits 100.4°.

For several days I’d been so exhausted, weak, and shaky that it was a major effort of will to get off the sofa. The glass of soda at my elbow that I was supposed to be religiously sipping on was just too heavy to reach for and lift. My gut was bloated, gassy, grumbly, and I was miserable.

Pure stubborn pride got me into the shower and some fresh clothes before we headed for the infusion center, where I was treated like a queen, after arriving in a wheelchair because I doubted my ability to walk clear to the second floor facility on my own (even with an elevator). Ushered to a cool, private bedroom after being weighed (I’d lost 7 pounds, almost all of it presumably fluids).

I’m sure at least five different nurses were in and out, all intent on their special thing — hanging the IV, drawing different blood samples for different tests, recording detailed notes about what had been going on the last week. And a dietitian with lots of suggestions about what I could and should try eating besides just the BRAT diet (for non-parents, that’s bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast). Vicki, the nurse who did my first infusion and hovered over me like a momma bird that day, made a point of coming by just to say hi, and we hugged like old friends. And although the nurses had everything well in hand, my medical oncologist took a break from his regular duties to check in also. I’ve yet to hear anyone overstate his obvious commitment to and concern for his patients.

We decided that Senokot-S is obviously too hard on my system and will forego it completely the next time around. Colace alone should suffice, if needed (no anticipatory dosing). And Imodium. Seems I hadn’t been taking nearly enough. Two caplets the first time you need it, then another for each successive occurrence, up to 8 a day. That’s more than the package says. I wasn’t nearly aggressive enough with it. Hope all the new knowledge and realizations pay off next time.

No particular problems with last Wednesday’s Neulasta injection. Surprisingly enough, plain old over-the-counter Claritin works to suppress the bone pain it can cause. That’s the standard of care now. Previously it was just anecdotal medicine, but then a study was done and now it’s routinely prescribed. (Other antihistamines might work, I was told, but the only study to date has been on Claritin.) Plus a hit of Tylenol or ibuprofen if needed. I thought it interesting too that with all the fancy, hi tech drugs used in my chemo treatment, plain ol’ Benadryl is infused at the same time to counter reactions.

One thing I learned early and think I’ve forgotten to mention — if you ever have cancer surgery and are facing extensive treatment afterwards, ask the surgeon to put in a port at the time of your surgery. Simple, since you’re already knocked out, and it will literally save you a world of hurt later. If the nurses had to find and puncture one of my veins every time they needed to draw blood or start an infusion, they’d already be out of access points and my veins would be a mess. Not to mention all those needlesticks (and misses) hurt! Ports are wonderful things. Initially they seem very foreign and intrusive, and I was squeamish about having this “thing” embedded in my chest, making a lump under the skin, but once you see how they work, you’ll thank whoever invented them.

That’s about all for now. Amazing the difference in the last 24 hours. I was ready to give up yesterday morning. I mean like, bury me now, I can’t do this anymore. This afternoon I’m back to blogging and doing laundry (one load that took all afternoon at my slow pace).

The doctor wants me back on Friday for another infusion (just good ol’ saline, though I keep hinting that certain “additions” would be nice) to make sure I’m off to a good start for my last week of this first cycle. (Probably also a good way to ensure I won’t end up back in the infusion center over the holiday weekend.) Works for me. Hoping for at least a week of normalcy before I have to do all this again.

6 thoughts on “Finally getting a handle on what to take when”

  1. Yep, ports are very helpful. But yeah, I hear you on the ick factor. I get woozy thinking about an IV line, and heaven knows I’ve had more of them than I ever thought I would after those surgeries.

"You don’t have to say everything to say something." ~Beth Moore

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