Tuesday, February 6, 2018

A Little Bit Harder

Cycle 3/12 Taxol was a little rougher.  The infusion itself was fine.  Better, actually, since they cut the steroid dose down so I didn't have to deal with that wooziness.  (They also stopped the Benadryl since I haven't reacted negatively to the infusion.)  The rest of this week has followed the same pattern as the first two cycles, but everything has been just a little bit harder.  Jamie looked back at his notes and saw that I took my first Zofran (nausea med) about 30 minutes earlier cycle 2, and then about 45 minutes earlier on cycle 3 than I did on cycle 1.  I had read that the side effects are cumulative, and it's proving to be true.

So far, chemo has been on Thursday, and I'm done around 12:30pm or so.  I feel sick the rest of the day, like my body knows it has been poisoned and can't do anything about it.  Friday is worse, with bone/joint pain and allover aching, a bad headache, weakness, and some nausea and lots of heartburn.  Saturday I'm completely exhausted.  I sleep a lot Friday night, and then take at least one very long nap during the day.  Sunday is better.  I'm tired, but can get out and go to church or a store as long as I spend the rest of the day resting.  Monday through Wednesday are pretty good days; I'm tired but okay.  Cycle 3 followed that pattern, but the bad days were intensified, and the joint/bone pain, headache, and aching has lingered into the good days.

I'm running into some issues with my bloodwork as chemo continues.  This is normal, I know, but still discouraging.  I have bloodwork done an hour before each chemo infusion.  As long as everything - especially my white blood cell count (WBC) looks good, chemo can go ahead.  And chemo needs to go ahead, because that's what is killing the cancer.  And killing the cancer is a very good thing.  Bloodwork is done on Thursdays and results are released to me Monday evenings through the patient portal.  The last 3 weeks, my WBC has been 5.0, then 4.1, then 3.6.  "Standard Range" is 4.0 - 11.0.  I meet with my MedOnc tomorrow, so that's something we'll be talking about.  I don't know what the cutoff is for chemo, but at some point, they won't be able to give me chemo until my WBC goes back up.  There's nothing I can do about it besides rest and stay hydrated, so I'm doing that and praying like crazy.  The other thing concerning on my bloodwork is my ALT level, which has to do with my liver.  "Standard Range" is 7-56.  Mine has been 81, then 222,  then 168.  Again, this is common on chemo (especially Taxol), but concerning to me.  Something else to talk to my MedOnc about.  

I'm of two minds about reviewing my bloodwork each week.  I don't know what all the numbers mean, and researching them doesn't necessarily give me peace of mind.  BUT - I want to know what my test results are; I don't like being ignorant.  So far, this is what is tested routinely each week before chemo:

Bilirubin Indirect
Bilirubin Direct
Bilirubin Total
Protein Total
Alkaline Phosphatase
.Glomerular Filtration Rate
Serum Creatinine
Electrolyte Panel  (Sodium Lvl, Potassium Lvl, Chloride, CO2, Anion Gap)
Glucose Random
Manual Differential  (Neutrophil, Lymphocyte, Monocyte, Eosinophil, Basophil, Neutrophil Abs, Lymphocyte Abs, Monocyte Abs, Eosinophil Abs, Basophil Abs)
.CBC  (WBC, RBC, Hgb, Hct, MCV, MCHC, RDW-SD, RDW-CV, Platelet Count, MPV)

By the end of this all, I'll be an expert in what all of these mean, what my numbers should be - both ideally and just to continue chemo, and whether there's anything I can do to affect them.  For now, I'm just a bit concerned and frustrated.

I'm trying to keep my spirits up, but seeing, in black and white on the test results, what chemo is doing to my body is hard.  I know I just need to concentrate on killing the cancer, but it's hard not to think about how long this road is.  And the long road ahead is only if I'm lucky.  I want that long, hard road of trying to get my health back because that will mean that the chemo/surgery/radiation worked.  But right now it feels rough.  Right now I just want to feel better.

Trish signature for blog


Mindy said...

You express yourself perfectly, Trish. I would feel the same way about wanting to know my numbers, and yet finding them confusing and frustrating. Hopefully as you learn more, they will become less so. Please do keep on taking care of yourself. This world needs you.

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