Yesterday I had my pre-chemotherapy appointment. At this appointment, I meet with my oncologist and nurse practitioner on alternating appointments, and I have blood drawn for testing. The first words from Dr. Banana Split, my oncologist, with a tone of excitement, was,"You still have your hair!" (This reminded me of the times my gynecologists exclaimed "It's a girl!" -We never peaked.) Chubba asked her is this meant I wasn't going to lose my hair. She responded, "Oh yes! She will definitely lose her hair, and possibly within 48 hours." Well, it has been over 24, and I'm holding strong. Maybe my hair hasn't fallen out because it's so thick or because it's pink. My scalp is beginning to ache a little bit, as if I had a tight pony tail in my hair for a long time and I just let it down. Dr. Banana Split said this is a sign that it's coming out soon.
The girls asked me if my hair was going to grow back gray! When Chubba told Dr. Banana Split about the girls' inquiry, she told us that many women are shocked when their hair comes back gray. When Dr. Banana Split asks these women what color their hair was before it fell out, they usually reply, "I've been coloring my hair for 15 years." With this thought in mind, my hair will probably grow back salt and red pepper. My gray had just beginning to show around the front with only a few up top. (Hey Clean Machine, my friend and hairdresser - don't go telling my secrets in the comments section!) Getting less young is the pits.
Dr. Banana Split was pleased with my mild or lack of side effects. However, the last four days I have had annoying and sometimes terrible pain in my ankles and feet. Sporadically I get a pain shooting up my left leg, starting at the ankle and stopping in the back and middle of my left thigh. This pain made falling asleep difficult two consecutive nights, explaining my 3:00a.m. shut eye. Dr. Banana Split said that this is the first she heard about foot pain during chemotherapy. She believes that the pain is due to menopause. What?! If your are even on the fringe of menopause, chemotherapy throws your body into full-on menopause. During menopause, joint ache is common. Yep, chemotherapy is making me less young. By the way, I was assigned a new nurse practitioner. No more physical torture.
I forgot to tell Dr. Banana Split and the Clinical Trial Nurse, Laverne, about one symptom - forgetfulness. Sometimes I think I'm losing my mind because I forget things, or I repeat myself. It is so frustrating. I feel like the biggest space cadet! "Earth to Keval, Earth to Keval, are you with us?"
I was a little unsure how the chemotherapy doses and potency works? Do they get stronger each time. Does one dose (cycle) build on top of another dose, building it up in the system? Dr. Banana Split explained that yesterday, I probably didn't have any chemotherapy left in my system. The poison lasts just about two weeks in my system. Each dose (cycle) will be exactly the same, so my side effects for today's cycle should be consistent with the previous cycle. YES! Yahoo! (I hope I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch.) She also explained that during the 5-7 days after the cycle, the chemotherapy is mainly attacking any bad cells. The remaining days the poision attacks the healthy cells. This explains why the body crashes anywhere from day 5-7. I crashed on day 6, not being able to get off the couch all day.
Today was chemo day. Two down and two to go!
I was told that my lab work came back looking good. My white blood count, platelet count and iron all looked good. I take iron pills on top of the long list of other medications. I must write all my meds in my calendar/daytimer, or I lose track of what pills to take ,what time of day to take them, and with or without food. Tomorrow I give myself another shot to help produce more bone marrow; Molly can't wait.
Today I got a foot massage with acupressure during chemotherapy. It was heaven! The therapist, Magic Hands, uses the foot as a map of the body. She presses or manipulates the area relating to your needs: nausea, bowel issues, headaches, hiccups, upper GI burning, etc. Magic Hands worked on my foot/ankle pain and the pain shooting up my leg. So far, no pain today, and I even wore my high, sassy shoes to opening night of "The Music Man!" ( Molly is in her first off,off, way off, Broadway production.) This therapist made a believer out of me on the effectiveness of foot acupressure. I already have a time for the next cycle.
The chemotherapy seemed to go by quickly today. I still had the very toxic red medicine that cannot be given via a drip, it must be injected by the nurse. The nurse told me that I am fortunate to have a port-a-cath because the "red devil," Adriamycin, is very dangerous if it leaks into your skin. It binds with the DNA in the skin, instantly killing the skin cells. As I mentioned before, a plastic surgeon is scheduled soon after this happens. "Lucky" comes in all forms.
I was also visited today by a social worker. We talked about how things are going - great. She gave me a flyer titled, "Feel Better, Look Good." Next Monday, Mass General Hospital in Danvers is having free seminar/clinic on how to wear scarves in various ways, how to apply make up- eyebrows, eyelashes, etc, and other tips with wigs or hats. They give each woman a free supply of make-up to keep, and scarves will be available for demonstration. I signed Riley, Molly and I up to go. I will bring my own scarves. My neighbor, Mary, is going to lend me some of her Hermes scarves. I will look so designer! I think the girls will have fun helping me with the scarves and make-up. There will be a few laughs and giggles. The timing will be perfect because I am tentatively scheduling my hair shaving party for Sunday - but, only if my hair begins to fall out between now and Sunday. Stay tuned for confirmation of date and time. All are welcome - kids, grown-ups, anyone that wants some good laughs, some food, libation, etc. If you are reading this, you are definitely invited!
When I got home, and went to the bathroom, my pee was orange again. I called Riley and Molly in to look at it. I know, grossly strange. Riley said, "This is so gross, do I have to?" She looked and walked out mumbling "disgusting." Molly came bouncing it because she was eager to see this strange sight. Upon viewing the orange pee, she said, "Cool! We could dye eggs in that!" Where does she get her weird, sarcastic sense of humor? (She's only 9 1/2 years old!)
Today, and for the following several days, I am suppose to drink about a gallon of water each day. I have so much water in me, my teeth are floating! Needless to say, I am constantly trekking to the bathroom. I am pleased to report that my pee is now normal color - just in case you wanted to know.
Whacky thought for the day...
Three different people in Manchester have offered me pot (marijuana) for nausea. I will not reveal my sources (suppliers.) When I told one supplier that I have terrible asthma, and don't think I could last one inhale (Sorry Pres. Clinton-I think inhaling is necessary,) this supplier smartly suggested making brownies. I very nicely declined because so far, I surprisingly and happily have this nausea thing under control
Belated Birthday Wishes :
(Would you believe that all my birthday wishes have been just for my large immediate family?)
Happy Birthday Daniel! - July 25
Happy Birthday Brenna! -July 23