Published February 27, 2012
After a couple of days of pumping me full of antibiotics and fluids they decided that whatever had caused the fever had passed and the sent me home.
The rest of the week was about learning the message of pain management. I’m used to thinking of pain as a transient phenomenon that will go away in some relatively short time. But in my current situation the pain will not go away until the treatment is over, so the trick is to learn how to live with it. The combination of narcotics (oxycodone in my case) and topical anesthetic mouth rinses every few hours make it possible to keep the pain at bay, at the cost of being rather spaced out (the docs made a strong point of telling me no driving while using oxycodone).
Yesterday (Sunday) I checked back into the hospital for the third week of the combined chemo/radiation treatment (out of five total – getting there!). I wasn’t feeling great when I checked in, and sure enough it turned out that I had a fever again, along with some low blood counts. I spent last night getting pumped full of more antibiotics, idly
watching snoozing through the Oscars (Billy Crystal again?), and once the fever had come done they started giving me a couple units of blood. This is the first time I’ve ever had a transfusion – there’s something a little creepy about the idea, in a vampirish sort of way, but I’m trying not to dwell on that!
Hopefully they’ll get me back within normal ranges this morning so they can start the chemo and radiation today. And I’m hoping that having missed a night of chemo doesn’t mean I have to spend an extra night in the hospital before going home at the end of the week. In the meantime, I’ve got some work to do, season 1 of Portlandia to watch (as well as the season finale of Downton Abbey which I missed while in the ER), and some new tunes to listen to (Miguel Zenon’s Alma Adentro, Oz Noy’s Twisted Blues, and Lee Morgan’s Cornbread).
Published February 20, 2012
It sure was nice to get home on Friday, but over the weekend I felt progressively worse. By Sunday afternoon I had developed a fever of 100.2 and started puking (for the first time since starting cancer treatment, I’ll have you know). We called in to the docs and they told me to come on down to the ER.
After some blood work and X-rays, the best guess is that I’ve caught some common virus unrelated to the cancer treatment. So they kept me in last night and tonight while they pump me full of fluids and a variety of antibiotics. The fever and nausea appear to be gone, bit my gut still isn’t back to par. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get to go back home again so I at least get a few days before I have to check back in again on Sunday.
I’m waiting for them to bring on the DNA nanobots!.
In the meantime, my dad arrived from Seattle tonight. It’ll be great to spend a few days with him this week!
Published February 18, 2012
Back home last night after the second week of the combined chemo/radiation treatment. Another long week in the hospital. Why is it that it’s impossible to get any rest in a hospital? They are not quiet nor restful places. At least this week I had a room to myself, which made it a little easier to get some work done including attend meetings by phone and meant that I didn’t feel bad when having visitors chatting me up.
I’m now exhibiting the side effects that were predicted – sores in my mouth and throat, lots of mucus being produced by my body as it tries to fight off the assault (one of the PAs said “you’re going to feel like you have a sinus infection for the next few months”), dry mouth, and general fatigue and loss of appetite. The goal is to keep eating through all that – they’re recommending between 2000 and 3000 calories a day. That’s hard to do when you can only eat soft, non-acidic, bland foods. The recommendation from the docs is to take pain meds (oxycodone currently) an hour before eating – they say that they can’t cure the causes of the pain during treatment, so the only approach is to mask the pain long enough to cram some food through. Of course the pain meds have their own issues – wooziness, constipation, general space brain conditions. I’ve got more pills than any one man should have, and it’s getting hard to keep track of them.
But I have to say that I’m in much better shape than many of my fellow patients – perhaps because of the smaller radiation field being used as a result of the success of the initial chemo in attacking the tumor. Hopefully I’ll recover some of my elan over this week at home before I have to head back in for the next round! My dad’s coming out this week, which will be great. We’ve had a steady stream of visitors from hither and yon, and it’s wonderful to get that kind of support from all our friends and family. And my wonderful colleagues in Web Services have been sending a steady stream of humorous postcards which really lighten the mood.
Meanwhile I’m looking forward to this being over and starting to think about warm weather bike riding – If you’ve got favorite rides around Chicago or the area, post in the comments!
Published February 2, 2012
Today Tuesday I had one these implanted in my chest
It’s under the skin, and accessed by poking a needle directly into either of the two ports. That allows them to deliver chemo right into my body without having to stick me with IVs all the time.
I’m reminded of William Gibson’s jacking into cyberspace from Neuromancer, except instead of connecting directly to a digital network I’m connected to a chemical one. Who woulda thunk?
Three radiation treatments into the week and it seems to be going ok. No noticeable side effects so far, but they say that usually starts a few weeks in. We’ll see how it goes.