Sunday, February 28, 2010

ICE Round 1, Day 3, 4 & Aftermath

Obviously I have slacked on the daily updates. Getting the strength to write was near impossible. In short, I've been feeling awful. After day one, there was no more dancing with the IV pole. After the second day of meds things certainly got to be woozy, cloudy and anxiety provoking. By Friday after Dr. Dailey stopped by to tell me I could be discharged I was showered, packed up, shoes on and unhooked from the port waiting eagerly in a hospital chair when my mom and sister arrived to take me home. Since I've been home, I've been spending most of my time trying not to vomit or mustering the strength to get off the couch.

I handled the Carboplatin okay when it was added on the third day bringing the total hours of receiving drugs to five. However, each night when the meds finished dripping, I got very nauseous despite all the nausea blockers I would take hours before. Luckily, the "as needed" anti-nausea meds seemed to cut it, though on the last night I woke up needing it twice. I wasn't feeling hot at all Friday morning, but I wanted to go home so, so badly that I sucked it up as hard as I could. Dr. Dailey came by and I told him that I was doing okay and that I was definitely ready to go home. He agreed and provided me with some at-home scripts for nausea blockers and Atavan. I felt as if my head was disconnected and that my eyes and appendages were buldging from all the fluid I'd been in-taking and all the hot, stale air. I hung my head out my mom's car's passenger window like a dog on the way home and she even opened the sunroof for me though it was snowing right into the car.

But it wasn't all bad. I just feel so badly right now that it's hard to remember anything else, but I'm trying to focus on the positive as unfortunately I've got to do it all again ... twice. I had great surprises from some more visitors. Nicole came by to have lunch with me. Melissa, Leah and Kyle came Thursday evening, while my chemo was dripping, with treats and smoothies, then my brother-in-law, Eric, showed up to add to the laughs and Craig stayed until I was ready for sleep. We got quite rowdy as they played props with the ridiculously small TV monitor on an arm that served as the entertainment in my room. More co-workers stopped by with gorgeous flowers, sweet notes, and my fav Starbucks treat.

All the nurses were truly, truly amazing. I had great care the whole way through and never felt alone or neglected. They even rolled around with a "high tea" cart on Thursday while Craig and I were relaxing. A nurse in a crazy purple and red hat came in with a vast array of fresh pastries and donuts, coffee and tea to choose from. Fantastic! I enjoyed a 45-minute massage which felt fantastic on my achey legs especially, and even received a Reiki session the morning of my discharge. I was so taken away to a peaceful place that I didn't even hear my boss come into the room with a latte for me - very stealth. I also took a wellness workout class with two other cancer patients - one just 18 years old who had been in the hospital for a month, and a 60ish year old woman who was neutropenic and had to wear a mask to protect herself. I, on the other hand, managed to snap the exercise band they provided us while doing a set of tricep curls. It was humbling and made me realize how good I still have it, and how I do not want to lose my strength and how hard I'll have to work to keep it.

Now I am home and as I said, my time has literally been spent trying not to vomit. Friday I felt real woozy, but my symptoms were controllable for most of the day. My mom and sister cleaned my whole house while I slept and watched bad TV. Then Craig got home and my Dad arrived and we all just relaxed and watched the Olympics and I watched them play Wii Fit trying to do their own ski jump and slalom races, Craig bouncing up and down on the Wii board dodging wrecking balls in the obstacle course. I kept asking them to do funny things to keep my mind off the pain. Those included my mom doing mock Olympic sports around the house with a "Fuck Cancer" beanie on her head. This was funny. I'd call out "speed skating," "short program," "skeleton," or "bobsled" and she'd pantomime. Oddly, they all looked alike. It was hilarious.

But then suddenly the laughing turned into awful, awful stomach pains and I got very serious and snippy. I hadn't had a bowel movement since I was admitted to the hospital and the nausea blockers tend to block the action down there too. So, it was debilitating s-pains to the point where I was asking someone, anyone, to just stab me in the stomach to alleviate the pain. I sipped on hot chamomile tea, did the exercises that my mom said she would do with her c-section patients that were clogged up, but nothing (still) has seemed to work. With awful pains and vomit hovering right at my throat sphincter I was able to get up to bed, take an Atavan and fall asleep.

Yesterday I woke up with less stomach pain though the nausea was still there. Craig had to drive me back to Hartford Hospital to get a Neulasta shot at 7 a.m. This is the equivalent to 10 of the Neupogen shots that I used to get during the ABVD. It will serve to stimulate my bone marrow and get my counts back to reasonable levels. The nurse practitioner explained that I'll have a lot of bone pain in my hips, shoulders, chest, and gave my a prescription for vicodin. I'm starting to feel it this morning and may in fact go get that script filled. The rest of the day yesterday I was uneasy but stable. I got enough strength to take a walk with Sam and Craig down at the park, which was hard, but felt great. Dr. Dailey told me to alternate rest periods with activity periods so I'm doing my best, even if it's just a few minutes on the treadmill. Much of the day was spent cuddling with Sammy and watching trashy tv like "16 and Pregnant," "America's Next Top Model" and "Real World DC." I ached to be able to sleep, but the stimulating effects of the steroids matched with the uncomfortable stomach feelings prevented that so I watched "Billy Elliot," started a puzzle and picked at whatever food I could take - forcing down nutrients.

Then nighttime came and it was almost time to be able to take an Atavan which helps with nausea and anxiety. I got up off the couch to let Sammy out while Craig slept a few cushions over. I shut the front door, turned back around, burped, and that was the end. There was no stopping it. I woke Craig up to wrenching vomiting. I made it to our nice, wood-woven garbage basket in the living room - not ideal - but better than the floor, I suppose. Craig ran to get a replacement and I shifted my barf aim into a cardboard box as he hovered over me. It kept coming and it sounded and smelt inhuman as I wretched animal-like. I despise, despise, despise throwing up and can't remember the last time I did it. Tears streamed down my face and I was sweaty and achey in my already raw intestines. I had been so proud that I never threw up from the ABVD. I guess high-dose chemotherapy is no joke. Once I brushed my teeth and showered I admit that I did feel better. For the first time in four days I wasn't nauseous, but I worry that this will continue, and I know how important it is to keep nutrients down.

This morning? So far so good. More achey and weak than nauseous so hopefully that's a good sign. My little brother made the trip from Roger Williams so I am looking forward to seeing him today and hope to again be able to make it out of the house for some fresh air and a walk. Other than than, just taking things literally hour by hour.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Karen! My name is Sue Murphy and I received your blogg info from Vanessa Shackett. I just wanted to comment on reading your blogg ...although I've only just started reading and I've gotten to Retreival Day I am already addicted. I'm sure to continue reading about your roller coaster ride through this enlightening adventure. Although I find very little time to read ..I will try to use your story as a bedtime reading so that a prayer will be said for you as I lay me down to sleep. Keep up the spirits and the beautiful writing. I know how theraputic it can be...