First from the soccer world….
My “Win one for the Gipper” speech didn’t work out last night. The kids tried hard and no one built a sand castle, but we still lost 4-0. We have a 4 year old girl who loves to play goalie. We let her play goalie first last night, but that wasn’t enough for her. Throughout the game she would go back and try to talk our current goalie into switching places with her. During three of these “discussions” the other team took advantage and scored putting us behind 3-0. Her Mom (who used to be one of my employees in my Proex days) yelled at me to tell her to get out of the goal. I then quickly reminded her that her daughter took after her and that she never listened to me either-her husband got a kick out of that!
Yesterday I also went to work. I worked almost 8 hours but was dragging when I left the building. I then went home, rested and then willed myself to soccer as it was the last night. The problem is I started having abdominal cramps about 3 in the afternoon. These cramps would come on about every 20 minutes at first and then last for about 30 seconds. By 9 p.m. these cramps would happen about every 5 minutes and peak on the pain scale around “7”, with 10 being the worst pain in the world. I could sense them coming on, they would peak and then subside. At 9 p.m. I also had a fever so I called my Dr. I told him my guess is that I was having a bad side effect to the Metronidazole (the drug Dr. Belzer prescribed to get rid of potential bad bacteria in my colon). He agreed that I was probably right. He said to quit taking it, take some Ibuprofen or Vicodin for the pain and follow-up with them in the morning . Believe it or not, after taking 2 Ibuprofen and doing my best to pray, meditate and relax I was able to sleep from 10 p.m. till 4 in the morning. I still have the cramps now but they are only once every 2 hours and hit only a “4” on the pain scale.
My first treatment was today from 2-5:30 p.m. It is 6:30 p.m. as I write this, so far so good. The cycle I am on is every 14 days I will go in, get blood drawn, review side effects with a doctor, have 3 hours of treatment and then go home with my mini-pack for 46 hours more of treatment at home. The drugs that I am on are: Leucovorin, Oxaliplatin, Fluorouracil (also called FU5). When they start my treatment they access my port. That means they stick a needle into my port and hook up IV tubes and bags of the drugs. The first drugs they put into me are a steroid (don’t remember the name) and some anti-nausea medication (Zophran-I believe). After about 30 minutes of that they then switch to the Leucovorin/Oxaliplatin mix. Leucovorin actually helps prevent some of the side effects of cancer. Leucovorin is a vitamin that is similar to folic acid. Oxaliplatin is the main drug. It is the most powerful and side effects can be felt from it within hours. Oxaliplatin is a relatively newer drug and is so strong that they limit the amount of times you can be on it. After two and half hours of those two drugs they send me home with a water bottle of FU5. FU5 or Fluorouracil has been around for 50+ years. The water bottle( or minipack as I previously called it) is something newer also. The needle and IV tubing stays attached to my body. They then attach the other end of the tubing to this water bottle that slowly pulls the Chemo from the bottle and into my body through the port. Right now I have that bottle in the pocket of my cargo shorts. This is a step up from the pump they were going to attach as the pump is noisy and this you don’t even here. I am no physics major so I won’t easily explain how it works. Inside the bottle is a small bag similar to a playtex baby bottles that have bags within them. As the chemo runs out of the bag it shrinks until it is gone. I keep this bottle attached to my body at all times until I see the doctor again in 46 hours. Sleeping will be a little bit of a challenge. At that next appointment they detach the bottle and tubing and inject me with something to sterilize the lines within my body so it is ready for the next round.
The side effects and possible dangers from all of these are pretty extensive. If anything happens to the bottle or tubing I have to clean up the chemo, sterilize my own lines, clip off the line and then head to the emergency room. Chemo is pretty nasty stuff. If you spill it on yourself you will burn your skin. To clean it up you need to be wearing gloves, mask and gown. The side effect I felt almost right away was the sensitivity to cold. When Karen and I were leaving my appointment I felt pretty good, just thirsty. She gave me a bottle of water that had been out of the fridge for almost 5 hours. I drank some of it and it hurt my throat a little bit as it felt too cold. That is one of the maid side effects of Oxaliplatin. From now on I have to eat and drink everything at neutral temperatures-no ice cream for me. If I have to take anything out of the freezer I have to wear gloves. Other side effects from all of them: numbness in fingers and toes, a feeling of your throat closing, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (been there, done that), mouth sores, decreased white blood cells(so I will pretty much catch every virus), hives, itchiness, rash, loss of appetite and hair loss. For the record, My Oncologist doesn’t think I will lose my hair, get nauseated or lose weight. I don’t believe him on the nausea so to stave off those feelings I am now taking yet another drug called Prochlorperazine. For those of you keeping track at home-that is 6 new drugs in my body today alone.
I or Karen will keep you posted on how I do through this first set. Chemo has a cumulative effect. Basically the drugs burn both good and bad cells out of your system. On about day 7 of my 14 day cycle the good cells start to come back and my body ramps itself up for the next treatment. The problem is that your body can never get back to its original level before your next treatment, so as the treatments wear on your body wears out. Thank goodness football season is almost upon us! I will enjoy this wearing out period from the comfort of my couch staring at game after game. Hey the rest of you football fans might want to get in on this action!
Keep those well wishes and prayers coming,
Verse dedicated to me for today’s procedure: Mark 16:17&18