My body is feeling stronger. My daily walk today turned into a run, okay, a jog, or more like a walk with a little more bounce and arm movement, but it was the most intense aerobic exercise I've had in more than two months now.
However, my veins are another story. They are rebelling against the harsh poisons they've been subjected to. And I don't blame them, but I am disappointed that they're collapsing on me. I'm standing up to this, why are they tapping out already? After chemo three I was left with a hardened vein in my right arm that was tender to the touch. After this past chemo, treatment four, it's been my left arm and "tender" is putting the feeling very mildly. The vein insertion site in my lower left wrist is rock hard and elevated. I'm told this is because it's filling with scar tissue after being ripped apart by the chemo. But this time it's not just the insertion site that's sore, but the pain follows all the way up the vein following the entire length of my arm right to my heart. It basically feels like a tiny knife, serrated on both sides, is continually traveling up my vein along with my blood ... over and over as it circulates through me.
Last night I truly thought my arm was going to explode. The pain was nearly unbearable. I made Craig sleep with the phone next to his head in case we had to call an ambulance and told him to keep checking on me every time he woke up. Poor guy. Low and behold I'm still here today and no 3 a.m. phone calls were needed.
While in for my Neup shot today I told the nurse about my throbbing vein and was told that it's the ropes. It's extremely painful, but that's how ABVD rolls. She recommended hot compresses and Ibuprofen which help ease the knives a bit. She explained that my cocktail is one of the, if not the harshest of chemo treatments on the veins. What I'm experiencing is "phlebitis," an inflammation of the veins. This phlebitis is only going to phlebitisize itself more and more as the treatment goes on. If I keep going with the IV insertions I'm going to be left with very few viable veins in my arms by the end of this, and a lot of pain. She told me about a man my age she just finished treating. By his 12th chemo infusion she said they were grasping at straws to find a vein. She had used and abused beyond repair all the large veins in his arms and even the ones in his hands. She tied off my forearm to examine the veins I do have left and told me that I would really be cutting it close to make it through eight more injections.
But there is hope and it comes in a little box inserted in the chest called a port. This port can be put in with a minor surgical procedure and can stay with me for the rest of my chemo treatment. The nurses and docs can use a special needle inserted right into the port to draw blood and send my chemo drugs right to a major artery in my chest avoiding the many needle pricks and all the vein prodding and destruction that I've been dealing with. It sounds like a creepy but good option. More research and a talk with my doc is needed. Until then, it's just me and the phreakin' Phlebitis. Combine that with the fissures and it's a regular pain party.
Regardless of all of that, I'm feeling much more like myself again and am ready for a road trip to D.C. this weekend for my college roomie's engagement party. It'll be a welcome vacation and I am so incredibly excited to see her and her beau.