Thursday, February 09, 2012

9 Days In

I have begun, and abandoned, several updates in the past week. Partially, I just wasn't feeling clear-headed enough to finalize my thoughts and edit them into something comprehensible. At other times, it was just plain depressing. To the point where I didn't want to read it, and I figured no one else did either.

Suffice to say, this has been the hardest chemo treatment I've ever gone through. This new drug, docetaxel, appears to give me nearly all of the "classic" chemo side effects that my previous drug combinations did not. So, I'm having "normal" chemo symptoms, I guess I just haven't had normal symptoms before. 

I was devastated by fatigue, sleeping and rarely leaving the house for days on end. Walking the dog was out of the question. The nausea, always at least a slight factor right after a treatment, has been a huge factor, up until today. My hunger is nonexistent, but that's not that big of a deal. I can set a timer and remember to eat. The big roadblock is that my taste buds are all wonky and things taste bitter or metallic. Even my own filtered water. THings that already are bitter are inedible. I found that I wasn't eating -- or drinking -- really at all for a few days because I was afraid of the horrible taste that all food had (and, to a certain extent, still has). Eating produced nausea, and tasted horrible, so it was to be avoided. 

The side effects of chemo were pretty life-changing and, when I thought they might not abate, extremely depressing. It seems clear that they are lessening, and the nice thing is that I now have 2 full weeks until my next treatment. At this rate, I'll be feeling normal-ish again right before my next treatment on the 22nd. This is a huge relief. I had the energy to walk a few blocks with Boo today, played music for a few minutes, etc. It's still small potatoes, but it all would have been simply unimaginable to me last Friday.

Optimism had also fallen completely by the wayside. It has returned today, at least tentatively. I am reasonably certain that this next round of chemo will not be as bad as this one. Why is that, you say? Several factors, now that my brain is functioning at 59% -- as opposed to 3% -- become clear.

Reason #1: Next treatment, I'll have them run extra saline afterward. This helps to flush the evil, toxic chemicals away. They gave me the option last time and I declined, as I was feeling fine. Now I know better. This is clearly a harsh chemo treatment, though the nurses at the infusion center had even said, "I really think you'll like this chemo." They were wrong, but: live and learn. 

Reason #2: I just went cold-turkey off of caffeine. You only need to do that once. Coffee (and caffeine) are too acidic and heartburn-producing I discovered, and tasted horrible anyhow. With no real choice or alternative, I simply stopped drinking coffee and caffeiene. This will make one irritable and tired. Or so I'm told. Combine that with a chemo treatment, and its no fun whatsoever. Its easy enough to stay off the stuff throughout chemo, so I won't have that to deal with in the future. I'm also off the alcohol, but I have never been a "regular" drinker, so that's not that big of a deal.

Reason #3: I am assuming that I will not have a UTI for the next round. Thanks to the unnecessary, painful and frightening catheterization (and related drama) I developed a UTI, which I thought was highly likely. Thanks, Mayo. The Cipro seems to be doing its job.

Reason #4: it will help to know that this feeling doesn't last forever. It is depressing enough to have to deal with all of this junk, but to feel like a shut-in and an invalid is to feel very useless indeed. The fear that I might just feel this way forever was very real. A week of hell is still a week of hell. But following that week of hell with a week spent just feeling under the weather, and then perhaps a normal-ish week, makes it more manageable.

Reason #5: I will be prepared for the side effects and be better able to cope with them. As previously mentioned, this is a brand new drug for me. THe side effects pamphlets are approximate, as they are for any drug. I'm learning how it affects me, and can plan accordingly. Though it was disappointing to do, I passed up an offered gig that was to be just a few days after my 3rd round treatment. I now know that I'll be feeling horrible that day. 

Hopefully my energy and everything else will continue to improve over the next 2 weeks.

On another note, I just got a great gift the other day. My mom and stepdad and his sister got me a portrait of my dog Kaia from a local Minneapolis artist. It captures her very well, I think. 


Emily said...

argh. thanks for the update. i'm still angry about the catheter episode. i want that sadistic hack to rot in hell. but here you are feeling better! that's nice to know.

Dave Matheny said...

The optimism is great. And I like the dog painting. Is there a reason you're not giving the artist's name?


Eclector2 said...

That is very good news. It is so great to know that you are feeling better. It was hard to see and hear your discouragement. I admire you for being such an amazing trouper, somehow you work through these problems and then communicate them to all of us, clearly and even with humor. I love you.

Eclector2 said...

Kay Corrigan is the artist's name,, is her email.

Eclector2 said...

Sorry, it's Kat Corrigan and is her site.

R said...

Pulling for you and sending love your way every day. And passing up the gig probably led to 6 more, so that's great! Looking forward to playing music together again. Talk to you soon, bro!


Aimee said...

The Kaia portrait is lovely. <3

Here's hoping the next round won't hit you so damned hard.

Deborah in MN said...

What Mom said. I'm praying for you every day.

Anna B said...

Ouch - I hope the next two rounds are easier than this last one. And it is a beautiful portrait.

Looking forward to seeing you at another gig.

lsikora said...

Hey, Mike - glad to see the energy and optimism are on the upswing - and thanks for continuing to update us all.

Wendy said...

Glad the optimism is still within. The portrait is beautiful! What a great gift.


Cathy Crea said...

Feel free to post nothing more than "Help! I'm miserable!" You don't need to entertain us (though that is certainly a benefit of reading your writing).

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