Monday, March 21, 2011

A Case of the Mondays

I think today I have a case of the Mondays. While there have been some aspects of cycle two recovery that have gone smoother than cycle one recovery, overall, I don't feel like I am bouncing back as well as I did after cycle one. Here is an overview.
  • Fog: Let me get this one out of the way first. The feeling of being locked in a fog was much less severe this recovery period vs. the first one and I am very thankful for that. I will attribute that to sticking to my goal of using very little to no meds (other than what is required) during treatment and recovery for cycle two. No four day gaps between days this time around.
  • Fatigue: I am TIRED, constantly. Cycle two seemed to go after any reserves of energy I thought I may have tucked away. Waking up and getting going has been a bit more of a chore this time around. My days start a bit like this; Wake up, spend 10-15 minutes in bed trying to motivate myself to get up and get moving. Stop one, the bathroom to take care of business, and to sit for a minute to rest. Stop two, the couch. That's right, after my bathroom break (and break) are complete I stop by the couch to rest and regroup before I start to head to the kitchen to put breakfast together. Stop three, the dining room table. The reason I mentioned that I start to head to the kitchen is because somedays I take an extra break on the way to make sure I am fully ready to finish my trip to the kitchen. Now, before you paint a mental picture of my house being larger than it is, it is probably less than 60' worth of walking required to cover this entire path. Thanks fatigue.
  • Lockdown: My recovery, and many of the things I am allowed to do during recovery, are tied to my blood counts. Fridays lab work earned me a period of lockdown. One of the main blood counts they are concerned with is my neutrophil count. Neutorphils are a type of white blood cell that helps cells to kill and digest microorganisms, important for fighting infection. A normal neutrophil count is 1500-8000. As of Friday my count was a shade over 400, leaving me susceptable to neutropenia, which lowers the immunolgic barrier to bacterial and fungal infection. What does this all mean you may ask? It means that, as of Friday, I was told I need to stay home, avoid public places and children, consume no fresh fruits or vegetables and limit any company that I thought about having until further notice. Hooray for sitting around the house every day. I don't like cabin fever, I love it.
  • Sores: Speaking of infection and the attempts to fight it, another of the fabulous side effects of chemotherapy is the development of "sores". Now, as I have mentioned, my body is in no condition currently to fight infection and heal itself. I think that is description enough for this topic.
  • Pain and athletic limitations: Early into a light yoga workout Thursday I knelt and one loud pop from the left knee later, my only form of exercise currently, other than walking, was taken away from me. I now have an extra pain to deal with during this experience which, hopefully, will clear itself up sooner rather than later, because compensating for it seems to have lead to a major cramp in my right leg that doesn't want to loosen up yet coupled with a new and exciting ache in the lower back.
So there you have it, I think somebody has a case of the Mondays. However, there is a bright spot today that makes most of this ok and not worth worrying about. Today was my midway CT scan, to check if progress is being made after two cycles of chemotherapy. And the phone call I got this afternoon confirmed that progress is indeed being made, my tumors are responding to chemotherapy and are reducing in size. Go team Dougan!

Maybe that case of the Mondays isn't so bad.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Emotional, that is how I will sum up week 1 of cycle two. Now, I would like to say it was a week of highs and lows and a good balanced celebration of emotion, but I am not going to start lying for the sake of lying.
There were some highs to be sure, I set a goal of walking a mile per day while receiving the five days of chemo, as well as a session of yoga every evening and I accomplished that. The walks may have been a little slower and the yoga sessions a little more relaxed as the week progressed, but mission accomplished on that front.
The real emotion came with the in between times, when I had the most time to think. Previously, the longest I have ever been sick is for about a week, at most, the kind of lingering cold or flu that everyone experiences at one time or another. But today it hit me, I am coming up on THREE MONTHS with cancer and I don't know if I am getting better yet. I want to feel and hope and believe that I am making progress, but it will be another couple of weeks until I have my rescan and go over the results. Until then, it's a toss up, is my body responding to the treatments or isn't it? It is a bit of a cruel waiting game.
But I am holding my head high and hanging onto hope. I want to shock my doctors with how well I am doing. I want them taken aback by what great progress I am making. I have a 100 mile bike ride waiting for me August 21, 2011 and I want to be ready and be there.
I just need to remain patient, focused and determined and I need to listen to what my body is telling me as we heal. I would like to close this post with a traditional Tibetan prayer.
Grant that I may be given appropriate difficulties and sufferings on this journey so that my heart can be truly awakened and my practice of liberation and universal compassion may be truly fulfilled.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chemotherapy Cycle Two

Tomorrow morning it begins again, I will be checking back into the hospital for the beginning of cycle two, which includes another week in the hospital with five days of chemotherapy treatments. There is the part of me that is not looking forward to being knocked down again, having every ounce of strength, energy and endurance taken away, but I know it is necessary. And this will be the beginning of being halfway through with chemotherapy, as long as everything stays on track.
Today I found myself to be particularly tired, but I have been sleeping well the past few nights, and have been able to nap as well. It has been pleasant to have my sleep schedule back to normal, even for a few days, we will see if it gets thrown all askew again after I get home from the hospital.
They say that laughter is the best medicine. I was lucky enough for a surprise visit from a couple of great friends and they provided me with a very large dose and I thank them for it. It was just the pick me up I needed to get me ready for Monday, along with my day on the couch and multiple naps today. I thank everyone for their continued support, thoughts, prayers and care packages, you all give me the strength I need.