Friday, December 17, 2010

Well That Didn't Go Quite as Well as I'd Would've Liked....

Gizmo my crazy Tortie, Missed Me

Wondering why you haven't heard from me in awhile?  Well wonder no more.  It went from good to bad in rather record time, I thought, but I lived to tell the tale, and here it is.  *Warning: Not for the particularly squeamish. I debated on giving you the details, or sparing you; you're getting them. Abort now, if you must.

Chemo #1 was Tuesday, Dec. 7th, you'll recall.  I did not burst into flames, nor did my head spin and spew forth pea soup a la The Exorcist (Extended Director's Cut & Original Theatrical Edition) [Blu-ray], right there in the hospital recliner, as I think my friend who came to gave me a ride home secretly feared.

I woke the next day and I was fine.  Took my preventive nausea meds, went to the gym and worked out, ate more or less normally.  Thursday and Friday, same.  Felt lucky, yet a little scared of when the other shoe was going to drop.

Saturday, other than a few cases of the runs in the morning, I felt good, and I was looking forward to the indoor winter farmer's market, which this year are being held at Old Trail School.  Went to the market, got some things, visited with some nice people, and came back home.

Big winter storm was predicted, so I thought I would be a good idea to gas up the car, plus it was filthy and I was willing to wait out a short line at the car wash.  Even though everyone in Northeast Ohio seemed to be in Montrose shopping, I managed those two tasks without a problem.  Then I hit Giant Eagle for a few supplies and that's when the wheels fell off.

I was almost done shopping, but in the farthest corner of the store from the door, when digestive issues reared themselves (quite literally), with no warning.  Hadn't happened since the first grade, when I told my teacher, Mrs. Schick, that I'd 'thrown up in my pants'.  A statement that certain members of my family enjoyed pulling out when they wanted to inject a special dose of humiliation.

I bee lined to the self check-out and applied my usual professional speed to the process, while the line grew behind me, and I operated under the veil of denial - maybe it's not that bad.  I got home, and well, it was that bad.  At least it stayed contained.

I didn't feel too sparkly the rest of the evening, and managed to get a handful of crackers and a small cup of applesauce down, called it dinner, and went to bed.  Sunday, I mostly just felt crappy (pun intended) all day, but managed to eat a little bit more, including a delicious quiche I'd gotten from The Humble Pie Baking Company at the market.

Sunday night was bad.  I was up at least a dozen times with waves of gassy pains, and I wasn't taking any chances, so I had to get up make sure it was nothing, before going back to bed.  The snow started piling up.

Monday I was scheduled for my first free house cleaning (of four total, 2 hour each sessions) via Cleaning for a Reason, whose local business is Jo Ann's Professional Touch.  My cleaner, Jim, braved the snow, and was here from 11 - 1 and got the bathrooms sparkling, and swept and dusted.

I called the oncologist's office since I still had the runs, and they called in a prescription, because Imodium was  like spitting in the wind.  The prescription meds didn't really seem to slow it down either, but I gave it some time to work.

That evening I had some dinner, and I didn't feel any better or worse than I had, when around 9 o'clock  I remembered I had some Hartzler Dairy chocolate milk.  I had a small glass and some animal crackers. Now I was back to first grade.

Except after a few minutes, I had my first wave of nausea.  At first it was intestinal, but then it became quickly apparent that I was going to need to break-in the Chuck-It Bucket.  Fortunately, after about 15 minutes, both ends of the devil were expelled.  I broke into a light sweat, checked my temp, which was ok, and I zonked out on the recliner for most of the night after taking the last Zofran I had in the house.

Tuesday I definitely felt worse, and I sent a friend for a Zofran refill. The other nausea med that they gave me , which I took one of, knocked me practically out.  (Which I was told was normal later.)

I napped on and off, and I was working myself up to a badly needed shower, when my temperature started going up.  I did shower, and by three o'clock it hit the magic 100.5, which the number my oncologist has drilled into me is the no fooling, you must call me now number.  So I did and was told to get myself directly to the inpatient admitting desk asap, my bed was waiting for me.

A friend picked me and took me in,  and got to witness the second time I "threw up in my pants" while I was sprinting to a bathroom that was just a little too far away.  And when I wasn't collected in a wheelchair to be hauled off to my room as quickly as promised, informed me she was going Shirley McLaine in Terms of Endearment on them, and God love her, she nearly did.  And it worked. 

Pluses: Cancer ward has private rooms, mine had a brand new bed that I broke in personally, when the door is closed it's pretty quiet, the nurses rock. The steady supply of Depends were a bonus.

Minuses:  The idiots who thinks patient rooms are great places to hold loud reunions and use their cell phones, who nearly always located directly across the hall from me - go home morons and let us rest,  the lack of a no fragrance on staff policy; the cacophony of colognes and lotions ran the range from mild to offensive, but in the cancer ward particularly, where people are fighting nausea, your lotion that smells like hard candies melted in a radiator made my stomach a little extra churny, the food, particularly the joyful liquid diet which consisted mostly of high fructose corn syrup (!).

They pumped me full of mega-antibiotics via IV, so that power port came in handy for that, plus the daily gift of blood I delivered.

I had no appetite when I arrived so I didn't protest the liquid diet the doc ordered, but I was rather appalled at what was delivered.  Usually a bowl of broth (although I got two chicken broth for breakfast yesterday, which was a real stomach turner), jello, black tea (which to me tastes like motor oil right now), and four 4 oz cups of 'juice', cranberry, apple, grape, and lemon-lime, one of which was usually frozen solid.  I swear to you I have not ingested that much HFCS or artificial flavor and colors since I was a kid.  This stuff is ghastly! Why in the hell is it being served in hospitals????

Also turns out the chemo has made me lactose intolerant, so that was a little extra fuel I'd been throwing in the digestive fire, before I got that news.  Hell, that's probably mostly what I'd been eating. With a chocolate milk tipping point!

Fortunately I sleep like a rock, so as long as they kept the door closed I was good, and when I was awake that iPad came in super handy, allowing me to keep friends apprised of my progress, and I was able to download this week's Top Chef and watch it, since the TV selections were limited.

My blood counts were finally back up enough this morning that the doc couldn't wait to launch me.  Seemed she needed the bed for her latest batch of victims.

Next round is on the 29th, and on the 30th I will get an injection of Neulasta, which is supposed to boost the white cells, and hopefully avoid a repeat of this week.

I was joking with someone about losing my dignity today and he wrote back, "I wonder how the stripping of dignity changes people?  If at all?", and I promised to reveal the answer here.

I really debated on whether I was going to publicly reveal my 'accident' on Saturday.  But I've done it several times since (on the way to x-ray, a few other times at the hospital).  What seems mortifying at first, is mildly amusing now.  I couldn't have stopped it if I tried, anymore than I could have 40 years ago.

So if you're dumb enough to joke about me 'throwing up in my pants' now, I'll say come closer please. And pull my finger.


  1. Oh wow! So glad you are better. My fever on day 12 following chemo #1 spiked to 105...and yet, because we couldn't reach my doctor (seems she'd left for Switzerland and back-up was apparently hard to find) I never was admitted to the hospital. I barely remember the day, I was so out of it. I'm sure I did many embarrassing things as well. Cancer patients get a free pass. it's the law. ;-)
    And yes, the Neulasta shot prevented it from ever occurring again.
    Wow. Glad you are doing better.

  2. Sorry that you are going through all of this - but your "honest" blog has been beneficial for me as a PC - since my newest patient just had her first chemo session two days ago. You are so brave sharing your experiences - it is truly educational for me - as I've never been close enuf to anyone going through chemo to understand all of it's effects on the body!
    Thanks Tamara - hang in there - there are many prayers being said on your behalf!
    Shari Morgan

  3. Tami- you are a brave soul! I hope this next round treats you more kindly.


What Do You Think? Comments welcome, but Spam & Self Promoting ones will not be approved.