Chemus Interruptus II
The sucky thing about chemo is…
OK, I know that in the last post I just made friends with my chemo. And I know you read the title of this post and are like, “What? Chemo’s sucky? I never knew!” However, I have new information. See last Friday I posted a picture on Facebook of my little family after the 5K race, a fundraiser for my son’s elementary school. My son, 6 ran/walked his first 5K and I ran/walked it with him.
THEN, we ran the 1 mile FunRun hand in hand. The day before I worked out (weights, elliptical) and I was feeling good.
But 24 hrs after this picture, I was in bed with a fever of 102, mouth sores, achy bones, fatigue, sore throat, chest congestion, sinus congestion, constant ringing in my ears… you get the picture. I didn’t feel rosy. The thing is, I’m writing this from bed still. Today, 4 days later my fever finally broke. I left it in a puddle on the bed. I was supposed to start Chemo Round #4 on Monday, but instead was informed that I am sick because I am neutropenic – again. This time my white blood cell count / neutrophils dropped from 2300 to 700 in a week’s time. I ran a race on Friday and by Monday I am so ill because my immune system can’t fight off anything right now.
So, here it is… the crappy thing about chemo. It is so unpredictable. When my body is not violently reacting to it, I forget the chemo is there – still pulsing through my veins. So, I’m completely caught off guard when I then have a chemo-related effect. It’s not just that chemo makes me feel sick, but the chemo shreds my immune system so I catch actual viruses. I am sicky sickety sick but I have to get welly well well well by next Monday so that I can start chemo again. I have to try my best to get well so I can inject platinum into my veins (no kidding – cisplatin is platinum!). My poor little immune system is taking a beating. And it came out of nowhere – from one day to the next. I feel like I’m in some sci-fi movie or video game where I’m running along healthy, and some invisible guerrilla fighter shoots me with a cryptonite-like laser that freezes me and morphs me instantly into sickety sick sick sick. I did wake up with a sore throat on Saturday, and I did go to my son’s opening game of his baseball season, and it was 47 degrees and spitting. BUT I dressed like I was going to the arctic replete with an irish sweater, north face winter coat, pashima, hat, and blanket. I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t miss that game. Miss his first coach pitch with my husband coaching? Not an option. My husband John was coaching the same game in a long sleeve t-shirt with the team jersey over it. He’s fine. After 20 minutes in a steaming hot shower I still couldn’t warm up and – Boom!- there it is, a fever. And by the next day… all the other fun stuff listed in the cancer center’s guide to neutropenia. If it’s listed, I got it. My doctor said it was the neutropenia that got me sick, not the sick that got me neutropenic. And it’s the chemo that got me neutropenic.
By yesterday (when I started writing this post) I had no voice, and my cough sounds like a gravely foghorn. The ringing in my ears (a potentially permanent side effect of this chemo) leaves me in a fog as well. Like when your flight lands and your ears haven’t popped yet so you feel like you’re walking in slow motion until they finally pop and every sound is loud and brassy. Mine just won’t pop, but I’m putting my energy into this state not being permanent. This was always part of the deal, though.
I’m on antibiotics in hopes of preventing a secondary bacterial infection, and pneumonia. If my #s are up on Monday I’ll start chemo Round #4, and 24-72 hrs. later I will receive a shot of Neulasta. That should boost my white blood cell count in my bone marrow. It’s not a nice shot – it leaves you with bone and muscle aches for @ 5 days but if it gives me more white dots, I’m there. I fear that this post is turning into a bit of whiny, woe is me. As we all know there are MUCH worse things going on in this world right now. What I am experiencing was always part of the deal.
So this is an update. No great moments of wisdom. There is so much more I want to write about, so much that just wants to spill out of me. About the robin on our back deck, my son’s new communication system for his mute mama, how my husband could learn a thing or two from Lassie, and the man on the side of the road who taught me a valuable lesson. But, for now my windows with clarity and energy are small. One thing at a time. Right now that thing is – back to bed.