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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Live from Chemo Chair #26 -- and so it begins (again)

[No new medical updates--just more of the same about my chemo treatment, but read on if you want to know my musings as I sit and get this second round of the AC cocktail]

So I've been here since 10am, in chemo chair #26 (it's now almost 1pm). I've had my anti-nausea medicine, the "A" part of my AC chemo cocktail, and now I'm just waiting for the "C" part to be dripping into my iv line.

When I got here in the morning I felt great--I mean, not great about having to come to chemo, but great in terms of no side effects/symptoms, no fatigue or diziness. I felt like my normal, healthy self.

And now?

Already I can feel my brain fog over and a slight headache come on. And my body feels heavy--like it's filling up with lead. And my stomach? Lets not even start to talk about my stomach (which is up to it's old queasy business--the pharmacist, Chris, confirmed that if I were NOT on the regimen of anti-nausea meds, I'd certainly be throwing up, so the queasiness may be something I am just going to have to deal with while doing the AC cocktail. The good news is that the Taxol apparently isn't as hard on the system, nausea wise--there are other mean side effects that Taxol has up its sleeve, like joint and muscle pain and neuropathy--but we've got time to experience all that). And, of course, there's that horrible taste that has returned.


I have a new nurse this time, Amy, who is also very efficient, no nonsense, and very friendly/reassuring. Stacy is assisting her (this is her 5th day on the chemo ward--she's brand new here from Omaha), and Julie, the nurse I had last time, came by to say hi and see how I was doing. And in my appointment with Dr. Carey, Delma came by to say hi and I met Dr. Carey's nurse practitioner, who looks and sounds a lot like Heather Graham.

Anyway, the cycle begins anew. I lost 5 lbs from my last chemo--so if this pattern holds, I'll be 20 lb lighter when I'm done with the AC cocktail portion of my chemo. And the first 5 days will be hard, but then it'll get better. Plus, I have high hopes for the acupuncture that I'm now doing!

I had my first appointment with Tory (who specializes in working with people who have cancer and are going through chemo) at Triangle Acupuncture. She said that my symptoms wouldn't go away but that hopefully the side effects would be lessened through the treatment. It was really trippy--my first time with the needles--and I have to say that I liked it. First, it was just very relaxing--the needles are so small and thin, you really don't feel them at all. And then you lie there in this room semi-lit room with soothing music playing, and I just fell asleep. But as I was drifting off, I could feel all these tingling sensations through different parts of my body, places that were NOT the parts where she had inserted a needle. For example, I thought that I was feeling a bit of a pinching feeling in my right kneecap, so I mentioned this to Tory as she was inserting needles in my left leg. She touched the inside of my right calf and asked if this was what was pinching, but I said, no, it was definitely my knee cap. And then she told me she hadn't inserted a needle in my kneecap--that what I was experiencing was deferred pain--and so she pulled the needle out a bit from my calf, which lessened the effect, and she said that it was actually a good sign because it meant that my channels were open and it was working.

I have to say, I was tingling for a good half hour after my appointment. So cross your fingers for me--I really hope it helps with the queasiness and dizziness.

Now for the sad news: yesterday I scratched my head and a clump of my hair came out in my hand. Not a huge clump, just a few dozen strands. But when I saw them come out in my hand, I put my book down and just stared at them. For a few minutes. And I felt my heart sink. And I felt my stomach just lurch. And I got sad. Really sad. Really, REALLY sad. And when Matthew got home I told him and he hugged me and then I promptly went upstairs to bed and stared at the ceiling. Because I think this was the moment when my FEELINGS about everything that is happening to me sort've caught up to me. Because I DO NOT WANT MY HAIR TO FALL OUT AND I AM TOTALLY FREAKED OUT BY THE FACT THAT IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN AND I'M REALLY UNPREPARED FOR THIS TO HAPPEN EVEN THOUGH I HAVE THESE COOL WIGS AND I KNOW MY HAIR WILL GROW OUT.

I mean, intellectually I'm OK with it all. I know that all of this is necessary to give me the best odds of remission and recovery. But the reality of having my hair fall out? That is just something I'm really unprepared for. And I have been telling folks, who have called or written or stopped by that I'm dealing with everything fine but that the minute that my hair starts to fall out I'll probably start to lose it.

Well, that time has come. I think it's a manageable kind of freaking-out--in other words, it's not preventing me from functioning or coming to my chemo appointment. And I've tried to be nice and cordial to all the staff here because they are nice and cordial and professional with me. But on the inside? I'm sort've freaking out--worried to touch my hair--worried to lie down, because each time I do, I see a few stray hairs lying on the pillow. And when I showered this morning, it was really distressing because I shed a lot of hair in the shower and then while toweling off. And it just makes me so incredibly sad.

Anyway, that's what's new with me. I'll probably be returning phone and email messages very slowly over the next few days, if anyone intends to write or call. You can always try Matthew--he's good as a go-between and can give people the inside scoop about what's going on at the Grady-Ho homestead. I'm just not sure what to do about the hair thing. I suppose I need to consider when I should think about shaving it off--balancing how freaked out I am each time a new clump comes out versus how freaked out I'll be to actually have my head shaved.


Hope everyone is well! And take care of your hair!

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