"Road to nowhere..." (David Byrne, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison)
Every month I've worried about potential potholes, the most critical being whether or not my blood counts would allow me to stay on schedule for my chemotherapy treatments. I've mostly stayed home, rarely gone out, infrequently had people over, fearing that I might catch some dread virus or bacteria and go off schedule.
So, when I reported for duty for cycle five, as usual, the first thing I did was to give blood for analysis. I was told my platelets had dropped below what I had thought was the magic number of 100 -- they came in at 96. I had assumed that this meant we were going off schedule; but, to my surprise, the good doctor said we'd proceed and only pause if my platelet count dropped to or below 80 since he didn't see my platelets as being on a downward spiral. (Note: My platelets were at 95 for cycle one reaching a nadir of 69 -- oh, the tribulations of chemo brain.) Drive faster, let the top down...
Given my anticipatory personality and the degree to which I have been experiencing chemo brain, I've found myself spending the time in-between cycles worrying about the most mundane things, like trying to remember what the prior cycle(s) were like. How long did the different daily chemo infusions take? How did I feel during the different days and weeks? Were there any good times or was it all bad? With variations between the first three cycles, what should I expect in responses, times, feelings? Put the pedal to the metal...
Oh, and there were other things I found to worry about. When would I know the appointment times for each cycle? How often would I need to have blood drawn prior to the infusions? Could I assume I knew the days of the chemotherapy infusions based on the four week cycle? How would I get to Dartmouth then home? If people volunteered to take me, when would I know who had volunteered? Would they think I was rude if I didn't keep up my end of the conversation? Would I get nauseous and sick on the drive up and/or back? Would the angel who had volunteered to coordinate this for me be able to over the holidays during her busy season? Faster, faster, speed down the highway...
As if that wasn't enough to worry about: What if the people driving me up didn't know yet that they were sick and carrying a virus or bacteria which would make me ill? What if they got sick after volunteering and couldn't take me? What if they forgot and didn't show up? Would I ever need to stay over in Lebanon? If so, where would I stay? What if there were no vacancies? If I needed to stay alone, would there be transportation back and forth and at the hour I needed? What if I were sick in the room? How much would the room cost? Shit, how much would the chemotherapy cost? Would my insurance pay for all of it, part of it, what? Would I qualify for disability? These questions flew by the front fender...
Well, from my experience I can tell you that all this worrying during therapy is a waste of time. If you are anything like me you will nonetheless have these thoughts. But believe me when I say that they serve no purpose except to cause you anxiety. Roll the windows down, feel the cool breeze...
The people involved in your therapy love you, so there is no need to worry as they will take good care of you. Once chemotherapy starts it is time to take care of yourself. So my advice is to use these questions as forward thinking so that you have as much knowledge as possible beforehand. A handy thing to remember is the Scout Motto: Be Prepared.
What will happen will happen, and there ain't nothin' you can do about it. So don't beat yourself up. You are a work in progress; which means you get there a little at a time, not all at once. Slow down...
There is nothing wrong with keeping your eyes on the prize: The final chemotherapy cycle. In fact, I recommend it. But you should also expect the unexpected, those bumps in the road, and let others take care of them for you. Besides, one never expects to get cancer.
As for how I've felt during cycle five, amazingly the three days of chemotherapy were uneventful -- it was as if I wasn't even being treated. Perhaps I was simply getting used to the effects of chemotherapy. Of course, the Neulasta shot on the fourth day did kick my butt.
I've completed cycle five and my eyes are clearly focused on the upcoming and final cycle.
Timing: 30-Dec through 3-Jan cycle six (6) of chemotherapy.
Oh, and Diane Holme, Bill Hoyt, Margaret Gurney, Daryl Gwilt and Don & Martha Bartsch have been added to my list of angels here on earth.
Postcards From Lebanon: Part 1 History
Postcards From Lebanon: Part 2 Vincristine Study
Postcards From Lebanon: Part 3 Prep for Chemo
Postcards From Lebanon: Part 4 Cycle 1
Postcards From Lebanon: Part 5 Neutroponic Fever
Postcards From Lebanon: Part 6 Nadir Charts
Postcards From Lebanon: Part 7 Cycle 2
Postcards From Lebanon: Part 8 How People Respond
Postcards From Lebanon: Part 9 Cycle 3
Postcards From Lebanon: Part 10 Medical Marijuana
Postcards From Lebanon: Part 11 Cycle 4
Postcards From Lebanon: Part 12 The Infusion Room
Follow James Stack on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SkygateStack