I hit a very low point, the lowest I have ever been during this entire year, and have been riding that low wave truly without interruption since I started this DI-CEP chemo just under two weeks ago. For the first time I can confidently say that I was completely helpless and conceded. I couldn't do my daily walks and even stretching was exhausting. I've had no appetite and no energy to make my own food. By some stroke of kismet, Craig was off from work on April school break so I had him home to check on me, to bring me food, to bring me to all my appointments, to be my arms and legs and to console me when I couldn't slow my mind down and couldn't keep my emotions in check. But the weakness spilled over into the next week and I had to call my mom to come over early to help me to get something prepared for lunch and drive me to the cancer center. This chemo bout has taught me (finally) to ask for help and to say what I need and don't need. When you have essential no white blood cells (I got as low as 0.1) and your hematocrit is dangerously low leaving your body deprived of oxygen in its blood stream, pride is kind of thrown out the window. I would have let a perfect stranger bathe me if it met I didn't have to stand woozy in the shower.
But I came out of it, with the help of all that support and all the encouragement that I receive from the amazing people that I have in my life. Holy crap there were days that I did not think I'd ever feel like myself again, but again I'm amazed that now I can see that this too will pass on a very near horizon. My appetite is coming back and so is my regular sleep pattern – huge strides. And, most importantly my blood counts are making a comeback. Again, much credit must be given to my spongy, young bone marrow. I should never have doubted it. Also, a shout out to the O Positive blood donors out there whose cells are helping supplementing my own.
Craig and I spent 10 hours in the hospital on Saturday where I received two units of red blood cells and a unit of platelets to help me recover. After the platelets were sent through my port, I felt scattered hives start creeping up around my body. They'd be crazy itchy and then rise up as little bumps. One on my chest, then my head, then my back. I tried to pretend that I didn't notice as we both wanted to get out of there so badly and this was the last bag of blood, but I knew better. Once the bag had finished I told the nurse that I had developed some hives and when she saw them I got a figurative slap on the wrist for not calling her immediately. Now it meant more Benadryl and another hour for them to monitor me. I hate Benadryl. After it made me see the usual stars, I passed out sleeping. Woke up with chest pain and an EKG was ordered ... we thought we would never get to leave. But my nurse was fantastic and did everything she could to help get us home - including bringing me right into the nursing station for the resident on rotation to examine me there and look at my EKG results and see I was otherwise ready to leave. That was so much appreciated.
I've had to go back to Hartford Hospital every day since to get my blood cell counts checked but have not needed anymore transfusions. Today, my white blood cells more than quadrupled from 0.6 yesterday to 4.5, which explains the wrenching pain I had in my lower back and hips this morning - the biggest concentrations of marrow. The stem cells are beginning to transform into the cells I need and the Neulasta shot from last week is finally starting to kick in. My red cells are continually climbing, slowly, so my fatigue is starting to diminish, but my platelet levels are still diving so I have to be very careful with any bleeding. Teeth brushing was a blood bath this morning and last night I bent a nail low and the entire thing pooled with blood without the sufficient amount of platelets to help it stick together. They told me no hang gliding today.
As one nurse put it "the chemo is killing everything from your mouth to your anus," which explained why my gums were pulsing and sore with that just-flossed-for-the-first-time-in-months feeling and why my "anus" continues to be a point of sore contention. As my counts recover, the achyness is subsiding.
Like a germinating seedling, my roots are finding their footing on the ground again and my layers are starting to open back up and reach toward the sun. I'm still very fragile, but slowly, with enough tender, loving care, I can now see that I WILL be whole again and ready to take on one. more. round.