They tell me that it takes 48 hours for the chemotherapy drugs to be completely expelled from my system. If that is accurate, then I am now drug free for the first time in 11 days, and it will be 6 more days until my next injection. I suppose that these next few days I will be feeling the effects of my body trying to replace the blood cells that have been used up over the past week, rather than the direct effects of the drugs themselves.
Today is a good day – very different than yesterday, when I barely made it out of bed all day. Today I am out of bed, and actually got out of the house for an hour or so. My legs told me it was time to sit down again, but I am not as fatigued as I have been. I have not yet found any rhythm or cycle to the fatigue, other than the fact that I haven’t had two good days in a row yet. Some days I can move around, and even attend to some normal activities (like going into the office), others I can barely walk from the bed to the bathroom before I have to lay down for a few minutes. I was definitely overly optimistic regarding my ability to maintain normal activities, but overall it has not been as bad as it could have been. Still no sickness, other than some overall aches throughout my body.
We had one scare this past week. It was about 1 am or so Sunday morning when I awoke with my body completely soaked in sweat. I felt very hot, and thought I had a fever. They had told us that a fever of just 101 would be an emergency situation for me, as the drugs reduce my immune systems’ ability to function, so I awoke Debbie so she could check it out. Luckily, she said my skin felt cold rather than hot, and it turned out that I didn’t have a fever at all. She still called the doctor, who said that hot flashes from the medication are not uncommon. He said if it didn’t pass in a half hour or so that we should go to the emergency room. It passed, and all was well again.
Both of my arms are black and blue and swollen. They ache, and have even hurt enough to wake me up in the night if I move them wrong in my sleep. I can still tell which vein the IV was pushed into, as they are still sore. Since we now know that my veins won’t take the IV for more than two days before causing pain, I have requested a PIC line, which they will install on Tuesday before my next injection. This is a line that will be inserted into my fore-arm, close to the elbow I think, and they will thread it up my arm and into my chest, where it will empty into a larger vein. This will stay in place for the remainder of my treatments, and will be the source for all IVs, injections and blood work. The other option was a porta-cath, but that had to be surgically implanted in the chest, and seemed like overkill for just 6 more weeks.
I am starting to recognize the signs my body gives me. I can tell when my body is planning to shut down, and how long it will be until it happens. It usually starts in my legs, then 15 – 30 minutes later I feel it in my head. After that, I have about 45 minutes or so before I had better be in my bed. It is as though my body decides it is time for a “troop surge” against the cancer cells, and starts depleting the blood from my legs for this purpose. Debbie tells me that the body will naturally re-route blood from the less-critical areas of the body (such as the extremities), which explains why it starts in my legs. Why it goes next to my brain is anyone’s guess (insert your own joke here…).
It does seem as though my mind has been getting clearer these past few days, and I almost feel back to my normal self today. I hope that these next 6 days are more like today than yesterday…