Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Close to the end of Chemo

Here we are at the Day Hospital, next to last chemo infusion...... the home stretch. I could never have understood how debilitating this process is. It is hard to think of an example, but..... Sometimes, I would rather watch opera, or Oprah for that matter, than get up to get the TV remote. Too tired to read, or to have a conversation. Wake up in the morning wishing that the day will be over quickly.

My hemoglobin count has dropped through the floor due to the chemo. I am not sure, but I think that is the stuff that carries oxygen to the muscles. So, I probably feel about the same as a runner does at the end of a marathon.... starts to explain my energy level! I am a bit concerned regarding my heart. The poor thing is working overtime trying to supply my bodies' craving for oxygen, but is having to deal with oxygen depletion while it works.

 I received a “unit” (could be a pint) of blood during my last infusion two weeks ago, and am getting another today. The doc wanted to do two units, but with all of the other things going into me, there is not time today. Apparently it is not a simple as turning up the faucet. I am scheduled for another unit next Tues. when I finish my chemo regimen.

It is a bit disturbing to ponder who donated the blood. The USC medical campus (beautiful and modern as it is) is in the middle of...... let’s just say an area of minimalists.... people not weighed down with expensive possessions..... you know, folks that have no carbon footprint. I did notice that I suddenly have an urge to acquire some cheap wine and a shopping cart, and have been checking out camping sites under the various bridges near the hospital. I suppose that it is possible that the donator was/will be a USC med student, in which case I will be on the look out for urges to clean my car, and eat sushi. I guess that these are the chances one must take.... probably would have been better to stay healthy.

Sometimes I forget to mention the support offered by my friends and family, both East and West coasts. Karen and her son Michael have been selfless in their willingness to care for me. I am not sure that I would survive without them, and will probably never be able to repay the debt.

I had/have no options regarding my situation, but all of the other people who offer me help and support are volunteers... it is a distinction that I consider often.

I meet with the kidney cancer specialist next Tues after my chemo infusion. I expect to discuss my surgery with him, and have him recommend a nephrologist who will handle my upcoming dialysis.

It will likely be at least 3 weeks before I start to feel normal again, so, no promises regarding the next blog update.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tired of Chemo

Well, it is my week to feel better..... I just past my “Tues off”, and will not get more chemo until next Tues. There is a, apparently, an accumulative effect of this type of chemo that is just kicking my butt.

I wanted to write an interesting blog piece, but am really only able to let you all know that I am still alive, and kicking. This will be my last cycle of chemo. Long day next Tues, and short day the Tues. after that. I will then have 4-6 weeks to recover, then a bilateral nephrectomy...... That is the medical term.... both kidneys come out, and, I am guessing that dialysis starts shortly thereafter.

I am meeting with a vascular surgeon on Fri to see about getting a “fistula”.


Cut and paste for a good discussion of the dialysis procedure.

I am not sure when the next update will be.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Chemo, the inside story

This report comes to you from the “belly of the beast”.... Yup, deep inside USC Norris Cancer Hospital chemo infusion unit known as “The Day Hospital”. A dark and gloomy  place by its very nature. That is, the place, and the patients...... The staff, quite the opposite.... They are, with out exception, cheerful, kind, and compassionate, and do a great job. I am not sure why the doom and gloom does not seem to rub off on them, trying to not let it rub off on me.... Maybe just another interesting thing to think about.....

The cat scan, done Friday, fell prey to the “Southern Ca. Friday Afternoon Syndrome”.... you know..... away from her desk, unavailable at this time, leave a message, if this is urgent, call 911, etc.... Nothing really gets done after noon on Fri. The freeways are even clear on Fri. afternoon. My oncologist, may be the exception. She met with me, looked at the most recent scan, compared it to the last scan, and said that it looked good.... However, we must wait for the radiologist report, and she would call me if the report was less than wonderful. No call so far.

So anyway, as I type, poison... YES POISON,  (poison >noun 1 a substance that causes death or injury when introduced into or absorbed by a living organism.) is being pumped deep into my body. Ok, I haven’t experienced death, (yet) but certainly have experienced injury. Oddly enough, this part is not too bad, and tomorrow wont be too bad, it’s later this week when the s... s... stuff hits the fan. Short chemo next Tues, next update sometime after.

I am not sure of all of the things that are pumped into me, but they include anti-nausea meds, and potassium and saline solution for hydration. The Gemzar and Cisplatin are apparently so toxic that the nurse must don a hazmat suit before handling the bags, and there is a special drip proof fitting to hook the stuff into my picc line. It is hard to imagine what horrible effects this substance would cause if unleashed...... I am hoping that the cancer is reeling as a result of this chemical warfare.

Today’s ordeal will take about 12 hours. Blood draw, wait for lab results, wait for doc to ok todays chemo, wait for pharmacy to make up the prescription, jump into the bed and get hooked up. Add an hour travel time each way, and it turns into an all day event. I suppose that writing this blog is useful practice..... doing something useful while hooked up to machines..... Dialysis = 2 years, 104 weeks, 3 times a week, 312 days, 7 hours a day, 2184 hours to do something useful.

I could just watch TV..... Or write a book... with that much time, a book series... Become an authority on almost any subject... OK, OK, “more” of an authority..... LOL  

“Cancer for Capitalists”, “Dialysis Days”,  “The Darkness of Dialysis”, “Dialysis for Fun and Profit”, “Dialyzing for Dollars, My Triumph over Adversity”, “an exciting, introspective personal memoir by fantastic new author”..... The ultimate “Lemons to Lemonade” story..... Special guest on the Rush Limbaugh show..... Interview on Fox News..... Nation wide book tour.... HEADLINE CALIFORNIA: “Cancer Patient Refuses Transplant Kidney to Extend Writing Career!!”   I will probably need to buy some new T-shirts.... I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Chemo, a whole new experience

So, It has been 7 days since my last chemo. I am still not feeling well, but seem to be getting a bit better as time passes. I guess that I am having all of the standard chemo side effects. Most of them are tolerable, but the worst is the fatigue, and complete lack of any endurance. It is hard to explain, but if I am thirsty, I would rather wait until someone is able to get me a drink than get up and go the 10 steps to get my own drink. I met an interesting man at the chemo hospital. He told me the story of setting in his chair, wanting to be in bed, but too tired to get up and go to bed. I said that I knew exactly what he meant, and we both had a good laugh. I still cannot walk more than 20-30 feet without getting out of breath.... If I walk more than 100 feet or so, my legs will start to burn just as if I had a long workout. Very strange stuff indeed.

I want to make note that this is not complaining, because complaining is not my nature. Complaining is also against my prime directive of remaining cheerful, optimistic and fun to be around. I am merely  reporting the facts for those of you who study these things. Lol This is, after all, a medical condition blog.

The silver lining, for those of you who believe that there must be a silver lining, is 20 lb weight loss, psoriasis is completely cleared, and I now have a good reason to ride in those electric carts at Walmart...... Woo Hoo Just thinking, if the chemo made me taller, and grew more hair, I would consider doing chemo just for the side effects even if I didn’t have cancer.  Plus, I can just picture those cancer cells suffering the same as I am...... kind of gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

I am now half way through the planned chemo, and this is my “Tues. off”, so I am hoping for a good week. I have plans to get a lot of things done this week. LOL

My cat scan that was scheduled for today has been put off until Fri. due to conflicts at the hospital. USC really does a good job with these things..... I will be able to see the Doc and the scan results later the same day as the scan. This scan will be compared to my last scan before chemo started, and we can see if the treatments are having the desired effect. If so, full speed ahead with the rest of the chemo, if not, I am not sure, but I think that we may change the chemo recipe.

Next update scheduled for after the Fri. cat scan.