So, here I am — and have been, by and large, for the last four days:
This is what chemo-fog, strong anti-nausea drugs, nausea itself, general weakness, kick-ass steroids, and — icing on the cake — a case of dehydration can do to a guy.
Funny thing is, I’ve yet to feel a single symptom from the cancer itself.
I haven’t posted in days because I’ve been in the above-portrayed state of rag-doll-ness. Oh, sure, on occasion I can type out the snarky or spectacularly astute FB post, but that’s kid’s play. Putting together a coherent post herein demands, well…, a functioning brain as well as body.
Here’s what’s been happening. Dr. Wu told me Tuesday (I think, it could have been yesterday — see?) that My Olive Pit™ has been shrunk by five percent already. Huzzah! And that’s only after a single week of radiation and one of three chemotherapy sessions. Yay!
As I understand things, the radiation efficacy only increases as time goes by. It’s a cumulative effect. So, my hope is when I see Wu next Tuesday (or Wednesday, whatever) he’ll be bandying about a diminution rate closer to fifteen percent. If so, I think I’ll kiss him.
Oh, that dehydration? Turns out these anti-nausea drugs are monsters for sucking all the fluids out of a guy’s bod. I did what I thought was my best to keep hydrated but, kiddies, it wasn’t nearly enough. Plus, I had to do scads of laxatives for the resultant Alimentary Avenue traffic jam. Laxatives act by drawing the body’s free fluids to the southern end of that normally clear boulevard. This only exacerbated my overall aridity.
Mike, my nurse from the infusion center, jingled me up early this AM to let me know yesterday’s blood tests revealed the alarming state of dehydration. I’d already asked him about my traffic problems and he gave me a ton of tips, including the aforementioned OTC laxatives. Then he said, “If those don’t work, I’ve got something even better for you, but you’d have to come in and get it.”
Oh joy, thought I.
“And if that doesn’t work, I’ll give you something that’ll really make all systems go.”
He must have noticed my wide eyes.
“Trust me,” he said, “I’ve got ways to make you go.”
With that he leaned back in his chair and folded his hands over his belly, smugly.
“Well, that’s something,” I said. “Do you go to singles bars and use that as a line?”
The upshot? Or, more accurately, downshot, Traffic is moving along nicely on the Alimentary. Meanwhile, on Lake Shore Drive….
No Soup For You!
I checked in with the medical oncology people re: that Neulasta problem with my insurance co. You may recall I was prescribed three autodoses (delivered by an on-body injector) of the immune system-stimulating dope. The aim was to get my white cell count up because chemotherapy suppresses same. Then the health insurance company’s Grinches (read: cost-watchers) sent me a letter saying it wasn’t recommending the $16,500 payout for the drug.
Natch, I got all huffy and started demanding to know who, and why, and where the hell do you get off?
I’ve got a satisfactory reason now. Neulasta can indeed be an effective drug for people undergoing chemotherapy — and who are older and less healthy than I was coming into this scrum. For a guy like me? Meh.
Apparently, it’d be like building a huge water tank above your house in case the place caught on fire.
Well, babies, I’m one-sixth through this trial. That’s a real chunk, no? I’m allowing myself to cry now. I cried the other day when I ran into a guy who also is undergoing treatment. I cried this morning, coming out of the shower when I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror — and, no, it’s not because the image that came back to me was so homely, so don’t make the joke. I’m the funny guy around here.
And I cried deeply, gaspingly, sobbingly today after learning I was dehydrated. See, that’s the funny thing, I can find the strength to deal with the huge insults upon my corpus but it’s the little things — the paper cuts — that hurt.