Saturday, July 18, 2009

(Edited and updated and corrected!) No more chemo, no new information, other than tips on female facial hair

I went into the clinic today and waited for 90 minutes before they were ready for me...slow day but not a lot of nurses working in the infusion center.

My chemo bags were disconnected -- hurray! -- and my labs were uneventful. White cells have come back down from their peak and platelets are starting to fall, so I would guess I will be neutropenic in 3-4 more days. They do not have M-spike data for me from last Thursday's pull, and it will be anticlimactic anyway since I will not see the full benefit of the poison until the Neutropenia has set in. But frankly any movement off the 0.5 will be a good sign. My tastebuds are torched completely so I know the fast-dividing cells have in fact been dying.

A quick note to those following the GI issues, either for personal fascination or for a more legitimate reason (i.e. going through treatment). On balance, the prescribed amount of medication (2 Senna tablets per day for stool softener, 2 docusan tablets per day as a laxative) was appropriate given the thalidomide and dex but can probably be eased off on day 3 of 4. Enough said.

I have put on another 15 pounds during this course of Dex, hopefully entirely water-weight again. Although I'd been told it's better to get rid of this naturally as one's body releases the fluid, the APN wanted to give me an IV push of some kind of drug (sounded like Ricin but I know that is nerve gas so that can't be right...or can it?). I had previously been prescribed a pill, but was told they wanted to hit me with the high-powered stuff. So be it, I thought. Although I was worried a little bit.

I asked the nurse if I would make it back home. I told her that I was about 10 minutes away. She said, without a hint of irony, "you should make it." Then I asked "are we talking frequency issues here, or am I going to be stuck in a bathroom for 90 minutes unabated?" She paused for a long time. I pointed out that this was supposed to be a rhetorical question, asked for humor's sake, and easily answered. She finally said "well, it's 3PM should be done by dark."

So after this warning that should have been enough to terrify most people...turned out nothing has happened. It's dark, and I've peed about three times, and I'm bloated as ever...or then some. So I am still waiting for some horrible dam-breaking event that will probably occur in the dead of night, which keeps me from taking the Ambien that I so desperately want to take. the facial hair comment which must again be filed under (1) minor faux paus from me, and (2) inexplicable offers of too much information on the part of nurses. My friend Matt, who is visiting, sports a goatee. The nurse (not the one who administered my meds but the one who took my vitals), who I have seen many times before, sat me down and asked how the kids were. I said that my friend was visiting me to give Jill a break. I then joked and said, "actually, this is still Jill, but her hormone pills have finally kicked in."

Then the nurse said "you know what they say about women with beards."

I gasped. She did, indeed, have tufts of beard beneath about one-third of her chin.

Here I was, making a harmless little joke that should have ended with a chuckle and that would be that. Instead, it was rolling out the red carpet for the Bearded Lady to strut her stuff. I will endeavor to do this more tactfully than did she. Women with beards, I am told by this bearded woman, are evidently accomplished in the marital arts. Or so she had been told, presumably by other bearded women.

To those women reading this: do not grow beards under the illusion this will impress men. I don't know who has been spreading this falsehood but trust me, beards are not considered an attractive element in a woman's appearance by most.

I noted upon leaving that my Potassium was 3.4, rather than the normal 3.5. Nothing to worry about, I was told. I asked about eating a potato and was told not to worry about it. So upon returning and deciding I wanted to sleep for a couple of hours, I was interrupted by a phone call from the infusion center. My Potassium had fallen in today's labs to 3.2, and I needed to come in to get an infuser. I asked if I could just eat some potatoes. I was told no, something had to be done, and I had to pick up the infuser. Any time before 7, I was told.

At 6:20, I went into the infusion center. It was a slow day, so the pharmacy had closed up and there was no infuser for me. I was told some potatoes.