Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chemo +1, Drugs, More Ranting

It's strange to be back here again -- in chemo land, and my reintroduction to the infusion center yesterday was emotional and hard.

Yet again, I get snubbed by the Breast Cancer Army. In the middle of my treatment I see a woman come in to the infusion center with her head (clearly shaved) covered with a hanky (I'm sure there's a better term for this but this is all I can come up with at the moment). She has three proud female trends with her. I'm in an otherwise abandoned row with my mom and brother. They take one look at me, notice my lack of breast-cancer-ness and lack of female-ness, and move on to another, much more crowded, row. I'm not exactly sure why this is, but all of the breast cancer survivors I've met in the infusion center (and, to be fair, more so their friends who accompany them to treatments) are very snobbish an appear (for some reason) actively anti-male. I realize that breast cancer is a female phenomenon, but the most important part of this is *cancer*, which does not discriminate based on gender. I have said this before, but I feel the burden of having an odd and obscure cancer that is not one of the "popular" cancers and does not have bumperstickers, ribbons, walks, keychains, coffee mugs, etc. Maybe I am just overly sensitive, but it only serves to make me feel more alone.

My back pain has been my major compliant and has been getting worse of late. The only time I've found total relief from it is to quadruple my prescribed dose of oxycodone. Whichbmeans im taking 10mg Oxycodone and 650mg acetominophen every 2 hours. I have only done this 3 times, as an experiment to seen if it would make it go away. This makes me worried about eventual addiction, as you can imagine. Dr. Grampa, the oncologist, ramped up the painkiller to a Fentanyl patch (12 mcg/h). This is like a nicotine patch (I assume) and is a small clear patch that goes on the skin and dispenses a controlled dose over 72 hours. I put it on yesterday afternoon and its working now. I take this with my oxycodone, but at least now I don't need to exceed my prescribed amount. I'm still flooding my body with opioids, of course. Another down side of this is that I cannot safely/legally drive until I am off of these, which may be a few weeks. Dr. Grampa believes that it may be the tumor causing the pain, and if that is the case the only hope of fixing the problem (as opposed to simply covering it up) is through chemo, which will (or should, anyhow) shrink the tumor.
Right now I'm just overjoyed that my back is only slightly sore--as opposed to a constant, all-consuming knife-blade in my lower back) so the chemo side-effects (low level nausea, lack of appetite, tiredness and deadened taste buds) are minor.

The opioids make me clumsy and liable to drop things, but I'm not a juggler so that's not much of a loss at the moment.

My spirits are returning with the decrease in pain. Let's hope that the lack of pain and good spirits are a trend and not just an anomaly.


Anonymous said...

Actually, men CAN get breast cancer, I am told. But I like your very believable description of the "You are not one of us" ladies. For ribbons and all, there is that "Cancer Sucks" wristband, which I've seen Kevin wearing. But are you absolutely sure there is no ribbon for bladder cancer? There may be one in one of the better dictionaries -- in the back behind "Morse Code, Solar Eclipses, Flags of All Nations." With Bladder Cancer sandwiched between Beri Beri and Bright's Disease.


Anonymous said...

Reverse sexism for a "lesser" cancer....absurd! I think you should bring your posse in there with balloons, ribbons and the rest of it, and go gangsta on their breast cancer asses--ha!

Glad to hear the back pain is down to a dull roar, though...


Anonymous said...

You said yourself that the infusion center was a vulnerable place. Women undergoing breast cancer treatment have often lost two of the things that define them as "attractive" - particularly to men - their breasts and their hair. When you are used to having men respond to the quality of your chest and your mane - it would take a very courageous woman in that vulnerable place not to seek the shelter of people more likely to understand.

Emily said...

aw man, i'm so sorry about your back. fentanyl is great stuff, and i'm glad to hear it's working for you. may it continue to do so.

beware the large doses of tylenol, however. this is one of the drawbacks of putting both tylenol and opioids in one pill: the body develops tolerance to the opioid and needs more of it over time, but the tylenol is very toxic to your liver at anything over the maximum recommended dose. 650mg every 2 hours is decidedly in the danger zone.

at some point in the future, if you find the current dose of oxy/tylenol on top of the fentanyl isn't helping you as much anymore, i'd recommend you ask dr. grampa for an Rx for just the oxy alone. you can take tylenol separately, to the limit, then as much oxy as you need.

i know the dopiness is no fun. the only time i ever had to take oxycodone i HATED it and wanted off as soon as possible. but good pain control will actually help you get better. not only that, it's a better way to live.

hugs and good wishes.

Kari said...

Hey Hun, I was going to send a warning similar to Emily's. The aceteminophine (I probably spelled that wrong...oh well) can be VERY toxic and you need all your energy focused on battling the evil cancer and not dividing it's time trying to heal the liver as well. There are some very good alternatives available, so keep pestering Dr. Grampa if you aren't getting the relief you need. *karebear hugs* :-)

Eclector2 said...

God bless your friends for their good advice on the acetaminophine, that explains why Dr. Grampa changed your prescription.

Re: The breast cancer ladies. I concur with Anonymous above, a breast cancer patient might not want to sit next to young good looking male person, for the reasons stated above.

Love, Mom

Nick said...

It might not be because you're male, it might be you're just such a mean-lookin' dude...

Deborah in MN said...

Being on oxycodone myself right now, I concur with the advice above. I was warned about not taking any additional acetominiphen (wow, I can still spell on drugs! - I think) because of the danger to your liver. I know I'm just a little off/slow mentally because of them, but if I don't take the maximum dose, I regret it. I'll just have to ask friends for rides if I want to go anywhere when Ron goes back to Madison. Too bad Tom hasn't gotten his permit back yet. I'm bugging him to work on it. Call me if you want to talk. I'm not going very far these days.

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