September 3, 2005
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
"What a difference a day makes, twenty-four little hours." That's the first line of song you need to be old to know, but that's what happened to me. I was going to write the second post last Sunday, but decided to wait one more day for the 5 day anti-nausea medicine to wear off. That was the first step of the treatment. If I had written this Sunday I would have said the treatment was great, sit in an over-sized recliner all day, watch some TV, take some naps and walk away feeling great. Unfortunately, on Monday things went downhill in a big way, all the bad things you hear about chemotherapy just came true, nausea, diarrhea, no appetite, no taste. I've had only bites to eat all week, this is Saturday, some Ensure, and two trips back to the Oncology clinic for fluid IVs. I have two prescriptions for nausea and diarrhea and seem to have them under control, but still no appetite. I dream of food and eating and get up thinking I can, but can't. Needless to say I've lost another 5 pounds, down to a weight I haven't seen since Junior High, weak and really kind of mad, but I don't know who to be mad at. I can't imagine being ready for another treatment in 5 days. The doctor did say he may have to lower the dosage. I think so!!
Of course, everyone is sympathic and tells you it's important to stay positive. Easier to say than do. I worry about my animals. It seems my fill in keeper has gotten tired of daily chores and there are days they don't get their feed supplement. I have to force myself to do it, which I really need to do for myself too, to get my rear end out of the house and get some exercise. I try to not even think of what all this is costing. Without any chemo bills, I have statements over $56,000. Guess I'll find out how good Medicare is. Good example of over-priced medicine yesterday. The anti-nausea pills cost $35 per pill. How bad would that be without insurance?
Well, enough of this negative stuff. Let me end this post by saying I still have hope that somehow we'll turn the corner and things will get better. Next time I want to exlain the whole treatment process which has a couple of different twists.
September 9, 2005
IV Fluids for Dehydration
Well here we are with post number three, and it's not exactly what I intended to write, again. I was to receive my second treatment yesterday, but instead had two days of IV fluids to get over my four days of hell. As a bonus I had a shot for diarrhea that is supposed to help for a month. Today, I feel much better. Dr. Stevens would be a good salesman. He had me convinced that all the new drugs, etc. that "we won't let you be sick." Wrong! My next treatment will be Monday. I can hardly wait. One other side affect showing up. I am breaking out on my forehead and hose, pretty sore, but no one has suggested anything for it. I was also told I may get sores in my mouth. So far nothing major, but a little discomfort there. My appetite is so-so. I think more about food than I can eat. It has to be soft and moist to eat it. Still doing an Ensure every day for a supplement. So far, baked fish is all the meat I can eat. Boy, in this day and age when you can't eat a hamburger you're in trouble! The one truth I have heard over and over, drink plenty of fluids, is so true and the main cause of my problems. That too is easier said than done sometimes. I told the doctor I was mad, discouraged and depressed. He gave me a pep talk and promised things will get better as my body gets used to the drugs more. Time will tell. So, next time I'll spell out what the treatment is and how the second one went.
September 20, 2005
Sick as a Dog: Nausea, Weight Loss
I'm still waiting for things to get better. Before getting into this post's bad news, a little review. I never have described the treatment process and really it's very simple. I don't recall if I mentioned what happened to get ready. I had out-patient surgery to implant a port just under my left collarbone. All IVs and blood are taken through the port. Saves a lot of needles in the arm. Also had to do an update CT scan for the experimental drug test I was accepted into. As I said, the process is very simple. Sit in an oversized recliner for about 6 hours and let it drip. Start with a bag of anti-nausea and then 3 different drugs. The last I guess is pretty strong. I have it hooked up to an infusion pump for 46 hours. That means I live with a shoulder bag with a 3-4 pound pump 24 hours a day. A home health nurse comes by the house and disconnects it. I rent the $3500 pump so I don't go to the barn with it for a couple days. For what all this is supposed to do, it is pretty simple. So, what's the bad news this time? I finished the 2nd treatment and was setting up #3 and all of sudden became nauseated. For the next several hours I vomited 12 times. The good news is that I got a jump on the nausea that shows up on day 4 and didn't have to go through that. The bad news is that I was sick for a week, no appetite, hard to eat or drink, off and on, mostly on, diarrhea. I finally went to the clinic today and got an IV fluid. I was so bad I have to go in 3 more days for fluids. I lost another 7 pounds. I look terrible, down to 139 pounds. I am also to take my anti-diarrhea pills 4 times a day and have a anti-bacteria pill to take for 7 days (when I see the doctor) to make sure the diarrhea is from chemo. I'm still having alot of problems finding something I can eat that's solid, no taste, hard to swallow with things sticking to mucus in my mouth. So many things with milk, but I'm to lay off dairy products for awhile. I did manage enough strength to finally make it to the barn and feed the animals. The last pregnant donkey that eveyone else thinks is ready to burst is not close to delivering yet. So, I guess that's an update. Everyone says "hang in there" and I'm trying.
September 26, 2005
Treatment Number Three
Surprise, surprise!! I actually had a GOOD weekend(which is more than I can say for my U of L football team's disaster at South Florida). It's amazing what 4 days of IV fluids will do to perk up your body. I have also been taking an anti-biotic for bacteria, so I may have had a bug in my colon that it got rid of. I ate solid food, if you want to call homemade vegetable soup and bean soup solids, a little bit of bbq ribs. I had some taste buds and a good appetite. I felt really good for the first time in weeks. We had our third baby donkey born on Sunday. She is real small, but healthy it appears and is a real sweetie. I was betting it would come around full moon in October so I missed that, but the mother seems to not have developed her udder, which is my landmark. I was concerned, but in checking today it appears the milk is coming. That's 9 donkeys now. Okay, what about the treatment? I wanted to wait to see the doctor but he made the decision to keep going with some changes. We stopped the experimental drug for now and reduced my drugs to 50%. I'm also set up to get IV treatments on Thurs. and Fri. to try to prevent the last episode. So far, so good. I didn't get sick at the clinic and came home and ate spagetti, cottage cheese with pineapple and of course for 3 days my room temperature drinks. Taste buds are a little weaker, but I can still taste. If I can just keep the diarrhea away! Kind of hard to believe, but this is the first time, I think, that a post has been all positive. I should be encouraged, and I am a little, but have those lingering memories of the past weeks. Time will tell as it always does. Until next time.
September 30, 2005
After Treatment #3
I'm a little depressed and no one to talk to that seems to give a hoot, so I guess I'll write a little. Perhaps if there is someone other than family reading these posts it may provide something for them. It's interesting how predictable some of the reactions are. After a treatment, except for #2, I feel pretty good. This week I had an appetite and some taste buds. Only trouble, I ate too much on Monday night (2 pork chops, half a plate of mashed potatoes and gravy) and ended up with a stomach ache and mild constipation (boy, is that different). On Wednesday, the home health nurse comes and disconnects the pump. That reaction is you feel "naked" not having your shoulder bag. This is about the time my forehead breaks out from some drug. As it appears, something comes along and clears it up. By now my sensitivity to cold is in full bloom, especially my fingertips. By Wednesday night I'm starting to feel a little punk. I did the IV fluids on Thurday, but not 100% although when I got up today I felt good enough to pass on the 2nd IV treatment. Maybe that was a mistake as I have been pretty weak all day. I did manage a trip to the barn to take care of the animals. I had to mix two 50# bags of feed and could hardly lift them. My taste buds are back to maybe 50% and the best part of supper was tomato soup. I ate a hostess cupcake and the sugar still is not accepted in my mouth very well. I can drink cold things now, but the touch is still a no-no. I have a feeling that by Monday I'll need another IV treatment. I bought some peanut oil (expensive) and want to try to eat a little popcorn. That could be interesting. I hope I have started the pills early enough to prevent nausea. It worked last week. To answer a question. Is all this doing any good? I think the doctor said we'd do a CT scan at about 3 months. Then we'll know. I really don't mean to sound morbid, but a thought that is pretty easy to have is that it is youself who holds your life in your hands. You have the power to stop and put your life squarely in your own hands. Well, not yet!!! Maybe my most annoying problem is all the fluids. I made 5 bathroom trips last night and that gets old and hard to get a good nights sleep. I hope I make it through the weekend. I had to know if one IV treatment would help. By Monday I'll know for sure. No sympathies, please, just know it's a rough time.