Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chemo Day Seven

When I wake up in the morning my body sounds like a freshly poured bowl of Rice Krispies cereal – lots of "snap," "crackle," and "pop." This has been the case since my latest chemo infusion Wednesday. It feels as if my muscles are stretched to their outermost limits to wrap themselves around my achey bones and angry blood. It's almost as if my muscles are trying to protect them from the cellular battle they have going on inside themselves.  It takes me a good 15 minutes to come to terms with my body, to stretch it out as best I can. Pop one hip out after the other. Violently crack my ankles. Do a little cat and cow lower back yoga stretch. The elongating sensations last only a short while until again, like shrink wrap, my muscles are tightened to a taunt fit. So goes my days. 

I tried a Reiki session the day after my treatment hoping for some positive energy against the aches and pains that I knew would be coming. The treatment was extremely relaxing. The sessions are conducted by volunteers right in the cancer center. Medatative music was played by the little massage table and all I had to do was lay there, be conscious of my breathing and imagine myself in a calm place. The Reiki practitioner targeted different areas of my body with a very light touch as she breathed deeply and transferred our energies between us. I can't say that it eliminated my aches, but I'm told that the effects are cumulative. I plan to take more advantage of these sessions: good energy in, bad energy out, relaxation. It all adds up. 

For now I just get used to living with the pain. And today, it's been horrendous, beyond the realm of the extra strength Tylenol that usually does the trick. Again, the flogging feelings are back - today it feels more like getting walloped in the back with a titanium baseball bat over and over.  For some reason I picture a very mean, dirty, freckled faced, red-haired kid doing this to me – laughing sadistically all the while. Underneath the beatings is the bone pain, the deep, deep bone pain. Unfortunately, this piece seems to have gotten harsher with every treatment, maybe because it's getting harder for my body to stand up to more and more rounds. It's not just the big bones that ache. It's the little ones, and these hurt even more. My cheekbones, my eyebrow bones, my teeth and most prominent lately, the right side of my jaw which I haven't been able to open fully in two weeks without a lot of pain. I'm told it's all a result of the chemo drugs. Even so, for this pain I imagine that my body is filled with an army of those little worker men from Fraggle Rock and they're all chipping away at my bones with their piercing little pick axes – these guys sadistically smiling and singing. 

Another special treat that's become more prominent is odd skin discolorations. These are also a result of the super evil Bleomycin (the same drug capable of collapsing lungs). They show up in deep purple shades, almost like a birth mark or bruise in very random places. I now have one on my stomach – just in time for bikini weather – and there are odd slashes of coloring on my thighs. It almost looks as if someone singed my skin. So far my face has stayed free and clear and let's hope it stays that way. 

How did I get here? Wednesday's chemo infusion was normal enough. Craig was my escort this time so he got to get in on the action. It is actually really enjoyable going into the chemo treatments. I truly look forward to seeing everyone at the center. I've become very close with the nurses and lab techs as I see them more than I see most anyone else these days. And when I go in for my treatments, each time I know it's a step closer to being done with this. 

The nurse used my port for the second time, but this was the first time that it was not already engaged (last time I came right from the port insertion surgery). I wore my "go ahead, poke my port" tank top and everybody got a kick out of that, nothing like a little insider cancer humor. There is a little needle prick involved but it was nothing compared to an IV insertion in my arm. The needle is actually shaped almost like a hook so she sticks it through my skin and the needle bends right into my 
port and the hole that leads to my blood stream. Yes, very creepy. However, what I enjoy about it is that I can't see it - well, until I saw this picture that Craig took. I think that watching the drugs enter my veins through that arm IV was really starting to get to me. With the port I can almost "forget" that my veins are sucking in their cocktail. Both of my hands are free to read or eat or manhandle my ice chips. 

Craig was actually disappointed that it didn't take longer than it did. The port shaves about 90 minutes off of my chemo time so I was only there for about four hours as opposed to five-and-a-half. He had lots more games he had brought to play with me and more entertaining to do. I even ended up falling asleep for the last 45 minutes - what a lame chemo date I am. The Decarbozine is the last drug that I receive and I never would have been able to fall asleep when I got it as an IV as the burning was so horrendous. The fact that I didn't even feel it made me smile. 

Another thing that make me smile is that I seem to have kicked this upper respiratory infection. The cough medicine and z-pack antibiotics did me good. We'll keep monitoring it but this seems to mean that I'm in the clear of any negative Bleomycin lung activity. 

Despite how shitty I feel today I am very, very much looking forward to tomorrow and know that it will be better. Craig and I will be on the road for six days on Cape Cod – a very welcome and much needed respite. I've been working every day (except chemo days) since I've been diagnosed and look forward to taking some time to myself to do some thinking, some reading, some painting, some swimming and bonding with my husband. We've both been through quite a tough ringer and are looking forward to hanging out to dry for a little while. 


  1. Enjoy your vacation! If anyone deserves it, it's definitely you and Craig!!! Here's to good weather, sand, and ocean!

  2. Karin,
    My name is Kari & I am walking in the Lite the Nite walk in DC. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's 5 years ago the same month as you. I have been cancer free for the last five years and this will be my first year that I do not have to see my oncologist! No needles this year!
    I remember every sentence that you write about of your treatment, especially the undescribable pain that takes over your body. I also practiced alternative therapy during treatment and really enjoyed reflexology.
    I do want you to know from one survivor to the next that their is light at the end of this tunnel and we have an advantage over others. We get to live each and every day with a deep admiration for life that is beyond words. I call it my forever happiness! WIsh you the best!

    Here is my lymphoma website - and if you ever have any questions for me, please feel free to ask.;jsessionid=JW9vBjYGfJLeTbnTPtCKqBatOGbD26BGwi2Ms8EpLWlUA6fGV067!136768567!-1062731317!7001!7002?patientid=16641

  3. Love the t-shirt ... love the attitude.

  4. steve (dickters bedpen) and i talk about you often. thinking of you. enjoy your trip. we definitely need to take one.