Friday, July 3, 2009

Chemo Day Four

Wednesday was my fourth chemo infusion, that means I'm one-third of the way through treatment (fingers crossed.) As much as the process is becoming old hat, there's always some sort of surprise that happens. This time around, I got especially intimate with my oncologist. 

The routine goes like this: greetings with Dr. Dailey's assistant, usually a "Hey, girl!"; weight check, vitals and blood work with the lab tech, always mixed with a lot of laughs --- she's the best; wait for the printout of where my blood cell counts are at with fingers crossed that I'm strong enough to go through treatment; then I meet with Dr. Dailey to catch him up on how I've been feeling, ask questions and talk over where we're currently at in the cancer-killing process. 

I filled him in on my "bad week," told him how my night sweats were back nearly every night and how I had extreme fatigue and how it took me much longer than it had after past infusions to recover. I also told him about my fun new developments in the colo-rectal area. From the beginning of all of this and the constipation/loose bowel battles, I've had some issues with what seem to be hemorrhoids (added bonus to all of this) and seem to be getting worse and worse daily. With my new cancer-killing power diet of veggies like spinach and kale, high-fiber granola, raw nuts, flax seeds, tofu, fruit, fruit and more fruit and ruffage I've been much more regular, but this also means much more action in this delicate area. 

After hearing my report, I got a pretty thorough exam --- Dr. Dailey palpating my lymph nodes, my abdomen, listening to my heart and lungs. He assured me that my lymph nodes are ever smaller, now more pea-sized (this is very good). He also told me that it is a great sign that my red blood cell count has not dropped. It says a lot about the strength of my body that I'm still able to produce red blood cells despite the Hodgkin's and chemo effects. 

Then, in his calm and assuring way, he says: "You know, I should just check your rear end if you don't mind." Oh, dear. This is what I mean about getting intimate, but really, I've lost all sense of humility being bald, arms like a pin cushion, red faced and all the other odd accoutrements of a chemo patient. So with my mom, the nurse, as my witness I lean over the exam table and drop drawers for a doc's looksie at my sore anal area. It took everything in me not to burst out laughing. Well, low and behold, I have at least one visible "fissure," a fun tear and likely more internally. Apparently this is very common for chemo patients. Because my ABVD cocktail indiscriminately kills good and bad cells, my body's ability to heal itself is much decreased so with each passage means a further rip. So after recovering my bum, he hooked me up with an appointment with a colo-rectal surgeon, we'll see how this goes. Again, always an adventure. 

Then it was time for the drip, drip, drip of the chemo. I donned a "Kickin' Cancer's Ass" t-shirt Craig got me for birthday and that elicited a lot of laughs from everyone. I'm also learning other tricks for each time around. I wore yoga pants, much easier on and off when I only have one hand to work with on the many, many pee breaks I take throughout the process since my other hand is tethered via needle to the IV drip. Comfort and easy access are key. I remembered a hot/cold cup to keep my ice chips in so I don't end up dripping the melting cubes all over myself, and opted for easier, bite-size snacks so that I don't fill the recliner with crumbs for the next chemo patient. I also got the courage to ask for the private room since no one was occupying it this time around, and this was fantastic --- I was able to play my music off my laptop (which my nurse also enjoyed), watch TV on hulu, talk (not whisper) with my mom and play online games without worry of disturbing the other patients napping or reading as they zone out during their own treatments. And the best part? Craig stopped in to visit for a couple hours between his summer courses so he got to enjoy the fun that is chemo day with me ... this certainly made my day! 

Sadly, I learned that one of my veins is shot. It had been sore and very hard and tender. Turns out this can happen from the immense stress the chemo drugs put on it. It is now disheveled and filled with scar tissue. So, we moved to the left arm and had a very clean insertion, not even in my inner elbow which was fantastic and made typing, eating and reading much easier. The drugs burned  bit more in this smaller vein, but for every yin there is a yang I suppose. 

Now, I'm feeling decent, loaded up with steroids and anti-nausea drugs. Just tired and a little nausch at times. Still haven't thrown up and very proud of it! 


  1. Karin, you are one tough cookie, you are the only one I know that goes to chemo all dolled up and looking so cute! Keep up the Ass kicking! You are doing a great job. Congrats on being One third of the was done!
    Lynn G.

  2. Karin, I too have a tiny tear down there. In my case, my bare bottom was up in the air in full view of the doc, his nurse, AND a bunch of medical students fighting the giggles as he solemnly pointed to my bum, spouting medical terminology. Aggggghhhhh -- students can be so silly!

  3. Karin,
    You are in my thoughts daily. Keep strong and keep kickin' cancer's butt!
    I am putting you in the light encircled with lots of healing,
    Lisa Sandstrom