Monday, March 12, 2007

The steroidal effect

It has been about a week since I started the *new* chemo plan. The other one, Doxil, as you might recall, had a lot of "don't do this" things attached to it, to prevent really nasty side effects. One of those was no hot showers. As soon as I was sure I was off that medication, I celebrated with what might be a personal best for hot steamy showering for me. I hope Mother Earth (and Al Gore) will forgive me that one transgression, but it had been nearly two months of tepid water.

So a week has passed, made absolutely delightful with the visits from Pam Herlich and Brenda Laribee. Pam arrived a few days before B and we kinda just hung out, nothing crazy, but I always enjoy her company. B arrived late Monday night (let's just say I won't be considering US Airways for my airline carrier anytime soon) and the week went by in a flash. They accompanied me to Duke on Tuesday for chemo. That was an experience in itself, as the chemo appointment was to be at 11:30 and I did not get in until 3 PM. Even for Duke, that was a long wait!

But it went well and the day after chemo, I was still pumped up on the steroids, so we put that energy to good use and did a girls day out. We went to the Mall, shopped and visited and then had a lovely late lunch with (drum roll, please) cocktails! How very decadent, at least for me.

I had an Absolute Limon but with raspberry stuff in it, it has now become my new favorite spring/summer drink. We re-named it the "Kentini" and I hope you will all get the opportunity to try it in the future. Maybe because I indulge so rarely, but it knocked my socks off.

The rest of the week was a blur of comings and goings, Pam left early on Thursday. Which was my worst post chemo day. They had mentioned that one possible side effect was a rash. Oh, yeah, and it was (is) a doozy. All the way up my legs and very itchy!!! I tried in vain to not scratch, to treat it with just Benadryl, but I broke down and late on Friday I called, begging for something else. The something else, unfortunately, is steroids. So starting Saturday, I have six days worth. And I guess since this drug happens again tomorrow, I might be getting more.

There is a good news/bad news thing about steroids. I feel like I have energy to burn (B and I spent Sunday afternoon cleaning out the fridge and freezer and doing a full inventory of what the heck was in there). But I cannot fall asleep at night until very late (like after 1 AM) and that is not good. Plus I feel "edgy" and my heart is pounding too much for my taste. But the itching is more or less taken care of. So I guess I will have to deal with this, one rash at a time.

But why on earth would anyone take this crap intentionally? Who wants to feel that pumped up all the time? (baseball players, I guess). I just don't get it. But I have never been a druggy type. I see a weird irony with all the meds I take now.

Having Brenda here (and Pam) turned out quite differently, since I did not have to be that cautious about heat and friction anymore. But it was great. I do crash at least once a day, usually by 4 PM, and need more rest than I could ever get soloing. Plus having company during this journey is great. Brenda is so organized my refrigerator now is completely cleared of any extraneous stuff, including the year old package *unopened, and not even moldy* of tortillas and the container of mustard I had saved since some party about 8 months back.

If she were here another week, imagine what we could do to clean up my disaster area of an office. But alas, I am on my own, so I had better kick some butt this week and next. Putting that steroidal effect to good use.

Tomorrow's chemo will have the "other" drug, Carboplatin, one of the two I had last year. I think it was the one that caused the neuropathy, so I have already set myself up for more acupuncture appointments and that should help. Hopefully it won't cause quite as much joint pain as last year, that was miserable too.

So the next few months will once again be a journey, albeit one with a steroid side effect (so maybe I *will* be able to finally clear out that office and toss the old stuff). I hope and pray that this combination of drugs will be the one that does the trick. The arsenal of drugs is vast, but I don't really care to run through all of them.

My friends and colleagues at the Health Sciences Library sent a gift basket and bag last week, one of the things that they put inside was a handmade book of pictures and quotations and messages. I read it cover to cover and was amazed at the power, the capacity to care and the love that poured out of that book. I plan to read it at least a bit every day, to help to remind me that there is abundant hope out there and that I am surrounded everywhere I turn by people who care.

That must be the lesson to learn at this juncture of my life.

PS: If you have not already done so, read Jamie's blog on the last clinic visit for a funny take on how they (the doctors) see us. You can click to it from the left side of my blog (link).

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