Wednesday, June 06, 2012

25. Chemo (Round Two)

Monday was my second round of chemo. I've got four rounds altogether before we head back to MD Anderson in late July for a CT scan, Sigmoidoscope and other pleasantness that will hopefully tell me if the tumor has shrunk as we had hoped, and get me on-track for chemo/radiation in preparation for surgery to get rid of the damn thing.

So far, the indications are good. I feel better (although still sick, but that's going to take a while to go away entirely), and the chemo has not been at all bad. Every other Monday I go in, sit down, they take blood samples from my port (much less annoying/painful than the stick you in the arm kind), then begin plugging bags into the IV. I mostly have to sit there, watch Netflix and HBO Go on my laptop, post random things on Facebook and occasionally repeat my birthday so they're sure the right medicine is going to the right person. I snack and drink water, it's relatively easy, and the biggest hassle is having to take a big wheeled thing with me when I need to go to the bathroom.

The side effects have been relatively minor. The cold sensitivity is the most annoying. Basically, for the five or six days after chemo, I can't drink cold liquids, or eat ice cream, or anything like that, because it feels like a shocking sensation in my throat. Today I discovered that if I hold something really cold, like say a glass bottle of syrup, for too long, that shocking sensation will also hit my fingers. But... minor, and easily avoidable.

The other big one is drowsiness. On chemo day, I'm functionally useless. I almost fell asleep at the restaurant on Monday I was so tired, and when we did get home, I crashed on the couch in my office for hours. Woke up later that night and was pretty awake, so it wreaks havoc on my sleep schedule for a few days. Fortunately I'm a night owl by nature anyway, so it's a minor adjustment, it just makes it harder to behave when I'm supposed to go to bed earlier for earlier work days. The same drowsiness seems to hit me on Tuesday nights as well, I can't remember if it's Wednesdays or not (after I get the pump disconnected) but I guess I'll remember for sure tomorrow.

Other side effects are just things we're watching. The oncology center calls me every day or two with a new instruction. Nothing too scary, just things like my liver function or kidney function are a little low or high, or today, that my protein intake was too low. So I've been put on a heavier amount of liquids, needing to drink more water every day (easy, I just carry my water bottle around and I'm drinking a lot more). Today I was told I need to eat five meals a day and get more protein, and they suggested Boost shakes among other things. So a quick trip to the grocery store later and I've got Boost Chocolate and Strawberry, Beef Jerky, Summer Sausage, Greek Yogurt and Protein Bars. Happily, what I got is stuff that actually tastes good to me, so all I have to do is remember to eat more often, and I should be all good.

It's a little nerve-wracking to realize that the chemo is disrupting things in my body that way, but it's good to know the doctors are on top of it, and if the end result is that it shrinks the tumor, we can get everything else back in balance later when I'm off the chemo.

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