Yesterday I had my second round of chemotheraphy. Two down, six more to go!
A lot of people have inquired about what "getting chemo" is all about, so here's what the day entails:
First, I get blood work to make sure my blood counts are in order. Chemo can lower your white blood cells (which fight infections), red blood cells (which circulate oxygen), and platelets (which help with clotting). Since you need those to stay healthy, it's important to make sure they aren't dipping too low.
The staff in the MGH blood lab is the warmest, most compassionate bunch...full of hugs and kind words. Even the elderly man who volunteers with the food cart, dispensing complimentary apple juice and Lorna Doones, is a ray of light. He remarked to my father, pointing to my mother and me, "How'd you ever get so lucky...you've got two beautiful women when most would be happy to have one!" To which my quick-witted Dad replied, "that's nothing...I have 10 more at home!" He's two months shy of 83 I should add...always keeping us laughing.
Next I have a brief meeting with my oncologist or his nurse, to review my blood work. The great news this week is that my counts were off the chart and "you'd never know I'd had chemo!"
Last, I go down to the Infusion lab where I sit in a private room for about 3 hours and get two different chemo drugs injected via an IV in my wrist. This is what the room looks like:
Now with the first round, I felt great the day of, and even the following day. It wasn't until Sunday that I started experiencing an assortment of well-documented side affects, including insomnia, night sweats, mild nausea, loss of appetite, dry mouth, fatigue etc. Annoying, but manageable. And then by the second week I actually felt pretty normal - my appetite came back, I just continued to tire easily.
Yesterday's session didn't go quite as well. They gave me an extra drug in the IV that I didn't have last time and it gave me a violent headache and nausea as soon as I got up from the bed. So I was out of commission all last night. But today I am feeling better...except that my hair is starting to go! Nothing serioius (yet), just seeing lots of strands coming out. Thank goodness I picked up Kristen Wiig this week.
In the days following chemo I then take a regimen of drugs to control the nausea, and get one injection to ward off infection.
But this one's probably the best medicine. Even though she's giving me a surly look here because she's not allowed on this particular couch at my Mom's house :)