Saturday, March 24, 2007

Has it been three days?

I always feel a little sad when I see no new comments on my posts. Just a little. I have, once again, returned home from the hospital. Apparently I'm stellar and cleared the chemo faster than the doctors expected, so they sent me home yesterday. I'm still waiting for my ears to stop ringing. One of the things about the hospital is that it is never quiet. I am hooked up to a hydration pump the entire time I'm there, which is loud. But there are also nurses and air vents and carts and people crying out in pain during their biopsies... I always come home and am shocked by how quiet my house is. Right now, for instance, there are no sounds in my house. Okay, my fridge just turned on, but that's about it. So my ears are taking their sweet time in readjusting to the lack of sound.

Speaking of ringing, I went for a bike ride yesterday, and some seriously funky things happened to my head. My ears felt like they were blocked (similar to when an airplane takes off), my hearing became messed up, and I felt a really strange pressure in my head. My theory is that this was all due to the fact that my blood counts are still substantially low. My red blood cell counts are hanging around 9.5, with the normal being around 15. So, I guess there wasn't enough oxygen reaching my brain when I was biking. I don't think it's necessarily damaging, but maybe I'll hold off on the extreme cardio activity for a while. I still don't understand how I lived like this for a good part of last semester. I guess I'm lucky I didn't pass out in the middle of the street or something.

And finally, in an unprecedented turn of events, in which my body has essentially given cancer and chemotherapy the finger, my hair has started to grow back. Yes, that's right. Even though my body is in the throes of chemical destruction, my hair follicles have decided to cut their own path and strengthen up, allowing hair to grow back. (Chemo causes hair loss because it actually weakens hair follicles.) So now my head is fuzzy. I am excited. That is all. Have a good weekend! Pax.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Thank God for juice.

Before I elaborate on my title, it just started pouring here. It's funny because I suddenly saw a rather zaftig chap in a white button-down shirt try and run to the nearest building. And now it is hailing, so really, my day is complete. So anyway, I have a newfound appreciation for juice. I have become horrendously tired of drinking water all the time, which poses a problem because I am constantly thirsty. So I have begun experimenting with various types of juice. My favorite, thus far, is grapefruit juice. Unfortunately, that is a "home" treat, as the hospital doesn't carry it. Actually, the juices offered by food services are seriously lacking in juice-deliciousness. But I have my Nantucket Nectars Big Cranberry to hold me over.

In other news, I am back to my usual and sprightly self. Yesterday's nausea and fatigue passed as quickly as they appeared. Now I just get to wait until they clear me to leave, hopefully Friday. Oh, so I have yet another reason why I would recommend not getting cancer if you can help it. For that matter, don't ever get hospital-worthy sick. One of the chemotherapy drugs I get, methotrexate, I get in three different forms: IV, intrathecal (lumbar puncture into my spine), and oral. This story involves the oral methotrexate. I get the pills every six hours, 54 mg each time. Here's the fun part: last night and this morning, the pharmacy only had the pills in 2 mg tablets. Basically, I had to swallow 27 pills. Eventually, I mastered swallowing four at a time. Granted, they were little, probably about half the size of my pinkie fingernail - the one I keep short for guitar. But still, it isn't every day that one has the opportunity to swallow 27 pills. For me, it's four times a day. Hoo-rah.

And also, just because it made me smile: Apparently yesterday my phosphate levels were low. So this morning my nurse brought in powdered phosphate that I mixed with my morning juice. Needless to say, it tasted horrible. When the nurse came back in, I was just like, "Wow, this stuff tastes pretty god-awful." And my nurse, my young and friendly nurse asked, "Can I bring you a chaser?" I was like, HAHA. That's fantastic. I declined her offer, saying I've drunk much worse concoctions sans chaser before. But it still made me happy that she would ask. And that has been my day. Lots of pills, IVs, various mixes, and of course, juice. What more could one ask for on this most unpredictable of hump days? I tell you, not much. Pax.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Life is just full of quid pro quos.

Yesterday I was in a rather foul mood. I knew it would probably be gone by today though, and it was. Even though I didn't get a whole lot of sleep last night, I still felt better this morning. However, today is the day of chemo domination. They started me on the sodium bicarbonate IV this morning to raise my pH levels. The pills started around 7:30 am, with the chemo pre-meds coming around 9 am. 9:45 a doctor walked in, said hello, and told me they were going to do the lumbar puncture now. This was unexpected; I had been told it was scheduled for 11 am. But they came in with their needles and numbing serum. Thank God though, this one went so much better than the last one. My spine and hips were correctly aligned, and there was minimum pain. After that, my nurse came in with my IV chemos. Vincristine, over 15 minutes, and then the methotrexate, over three hours. After the vincristine, I started feeling physically terrible. About ten minutes into the methotrexate, yes, I got sick. I figure there were just too many drugs being pumped into me in too quick succession. It was an overload for my already tired body. So I threw up, and it was pretty gross. Kind of a pleasant, bright yellow hue. It was a bit of a shock when I realized that I was essentially looking at what happens when my body digests drugs. It was such an unnatural color... Once again, I was reminded of the toxicity of the masses of chemicals that are being pumped into my body. Aaah, good times.

So now I'm just relaxing, recovering. I've already taken a solid nap. I will probably take another. And other than that, my mentality is much better today. So I can deal with the sickness and all that. I'm not going to put up with having two negatives taking over my life. I can deal with only one bad thing at a time. And it's so much easier to deal with the physical illnesses when my outlook is positive. I suppose that makes sense though. Alright, back to chillin'. Peace.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Wow. And not the happy kind.

Today has been one of my worst days so far. I don't know why, but I have been in a terrible mood all day. For the first time today, I was actually angry at this cancer beast. I've been depressed, anxious, whatever, but I've never really been angry. So here's what happened today: I was supposed to be admitted to the hospital, right? The plan was to go to clinic to meet with my doctor, after which I would be admitted to the hospital. Got to clinic, met with doctor, fine and well and good. And then she tells me there has been a hold-up in the hospital admissions. Apparently there were about 13 people waiting to be admitted, and there were no beds. So my doctor said I could either go down and wait at admissions until 7 pm, when they'd have a better idea if I could get a bed, although there was no guarantee, or I could go home, and if a bed opened up, they would call me. This was at about 3 pm. I had no desire to wait at admissions for four hours, especially if there was no certainty I'd be admitted. My dad and I ended up killing time in the city because I had my group meeting tonight anyway. We went to Navy Pier, walked to the end, and it was there that I realized I was angry at the cancer. Navy Pier reminds me of the Long Wharf in Boston, and it just reminded me of everything that I'm missing. It also didn't help that I keep getting these weird feelings that I'm invisible. But anyway, so I went to group, which wasn't really all that helpful tonight. Around 7:30, my mom called to say that the hospital had called and there was a possibility a bed would open up around 8 pm. So once again, my dad and I were relegated to killing time around the city while waiting for a phone call from the hospital. We actually ended up getting lost in Chicago's south side, which is never a good idea for anyone, especially two white folks from the 'burbs. But we made it out alive and ended up back at the hospital. 9:30 pm, and they still weren't sure if there were any openings. 9:50 pm, I call admissions one more time. And wouldn't you know, they had just discharged someone about fifteen minutes earlier. Since I was literally right on campus, they gave me the bed. So I am writing this from my hospital room, tired and still slightly grumpy, but glad to be back on schedule for chemo and everything. It turns out that they were actually supposed to give this room to someone else, but that person lives in Indiana. And since I was right here, I got it instead. I'd feel bad if I thought it would do anybody any good. But it won't. Perhaps that makes me heartless, but probably it just makes me realistic. The person in Indiana will get their room tomorrow, I'm still on schedule, and the open room is being used.

As for the rest of my life, I really don't know why today my mentality decided it was going to be angry. I'm sure (I hope) that it will pass in a day or two. I think everything has just snowballed recently and hit me in the face. I desperately need to get away, and in a month, I will! So that's something to look forward to. As is the fact that the weather will be pleasant when I get out of the hospital, which means I'll be able to ride my bike. Life isn't hopeless. It's just not that great right now. But this, like everything, will pass. And for now, I've just got to muddle through it.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

My catheter bandage is losing its sticky.

There is always a sterile bandage covering the opening where my catheter comes out of my chest. After about a week, though, it starts getting a little worn. The hole is still covered, which is the important part. Other than that, I've been feeling strangely fine (name that band!); eating too much, not moving enough. So life is good. I think I'm going to start volunteering at the Arboretum here. It's a big nature/tree place, all outdoors, all beautiful. Hopefully, I'll be on the Safety Bike Patrol. Basically I'd get to ride my bike outside for four hours a few times a week making sure visitors are following the rules and whatnot. I'm excited. That won't start until June though, so my excitement is somewhat restrained.

And that's it. I go in to the hospital tomorrow. I am dreading it. The hospital is one of the most unpleasant places to be. Thank God it will, again, only be for about five days. And I have a paper I would like to write, so hopefully that will keep me busy. I really won't have anything else to do, so there is no reason why I shouldn't write the stupid thing... Bah, procrastination. Alright, see you at the cancer wing. Peace.