Tag Archives: r-chop chemotherapy

Hair Woes… or Hairless Woes

I can’t decide what is happening with my hair. Most of my life I’ve been a blonde. In the last few years I’d decided to go brunette. Of course under the sway of chemotherapy, I’ve gone bald. I actually shaved my head back in April when I lost a massive amount of hair in the shower a few days after my second round of chemo. Up until last week I hadn’t really noticed anything else going on with the hair on my head… The hair in other places… well all of the hair in my eyebrows with color have fallen out. I now have clear eyebrows. My eyelashes have thinned to the point that wind REALLY hurts my eyes. On a more positive note, the last time I had to shave my legs was back in April.

Back to the hair on my head… what was left of it after shaving was about an eight of an inch long and mostly clear up front like my eyebrows. Not blonde really… translucent. Around back it apparently has some color, but no one can identify it, somewhere between clear, blonde and possibly black in a few spots. I may come out of this with a brindle coat, who knows. Suddenly, sometime between last week and this week, I’ve found one hair on top of my head that is nearly two inches long, and three hairs along the right side of my head that are nearly an inch long. Seriously I have never seen these hairs before. I don’t know if they were in hiding or what. I know they didn’t escape the shave; my husband is an expert with the clippers, and he clipped me well. Plus I check my head pretty regularly, hoping for some hair, and I’ve never seen these hairs before. The rest of my head hairs are also starting to grow, slowly and very fuzzily… very very fuzzily. They’re maybe a little more than a quarter of an inch in length, but they are fuzz, fuzz, fuzzy. My husband thinks I should shave everything down to the same length. He’s probably right, and I probably will, but that lone two inch long hair of mine… I feel like it’s a little survivor. Somehow, even though every other hair on my head succumbed to chemo, that one hair grew long and proud over the last few months; a little rebel defying the laws of chemotherapy. I hate to cut it, but I probably should. I may just admire it for another week though. Afterall I’m in no hurry, it’s not like I have a big event to attend anytime soon. Me and my otherwise clear fluff top.

More Trouble

My heavens, I’m so close to finishing up my cancer treatment, and things just keep going haywire. Today, I had to go in to have the second unit of blood they forgot I needed on Wednesday, and once again my port-a-cath started acting up (for those who don’t know the port-a-cath is a little device that has a button at one end for a needle to go into and a line of tubing that’s threaded through my chest, up over my collar bone and down into one of the main veins leading into my heart, it’s all completely concealed inside my chest, and it allows the nurses easy access for chemo-therapy drugs, without having to do a needle stick into a vein everytime).

They were going to run the blood through a pump to make sure it dripped a bit faster today than it did Wednesday. They started out with a bag of saline on the pump, and when it started I felt an intense pressure along the sides of my throat and in my head. Not like my throat was swelling, more like the feeling you get if you do a headstand, or flip your head upside down really quickly and all the blood rushes to your head. I started to get really dizzy, and put my head back for awhile, but called the nurse over.  The feeling passed after a bit and everyone kind of dismissed the whole thing. Then they set up the blood and started it. It took about 5 minutes and the same thing happened, and I was getting really dizzy again. They did a couple of checks of my vitals, unhooked everything and decided I needed a port-a-cath-o-gram (who came up with that name, I think we’ll never know, but they must be an intense lover of the hyphen).

The port-a-cath imaging showed everything was hooked up in the right place (apparently the apparatus can become dislodged and that can be very bad news). So next they decided to run dye through it to see what happens when fluid goes in. Well, the body truly is an amazing miracle; apparently mine has decided the port-a-cath is evil and has wrapped the tip of the line in some sort of fibrous tissue and created a little sheath around it in an effort to protect me from the little foreign invader. Unfortunately, this means fluid going in is trapped in the sheath until enough pressure builds to force it out, but apparently the backup is causing me to feel the pressure in the veins in my neck and in my head. (Funny I’ve mentioned this pressure to the nurses and my doctor before and no one thought it was related in any way to the cancer, they all said to take it up with my GP, really crap advice there.)

In any case, I am now going to have to go back into the hospital for a 12 hour drip of urokinase, or something of that ilk. It’s apparently some type of acid that will break down the fibrin sheath and clear up my port again. I can’t believe I have only one treatment left, and I’m going to end up having to spend a night in the hospital before I can have it. It really stinks; I just feel so very close to the end and these little road bumps seem to be putting distance between me and where I want to be. Plus I just don’t enjoy being cared for. If I’ve learned nothing else through this whole experience, I have learned that I like to do things myself; when I want to do them and how I want to do them. I hate having to be a big baby, and in the hospital they make you feel like a big baby who can’t do anything for themselves.

After my biopsy they wouldn’t even let me out of bed to go to the toilet for almost six hours. I had to pee in the hospital pee tray, and me with an immense cut straight down the inner right side of my butt cleavage. Talk about awkard, and if not for the morphine, painful. I could feel the pain through the morphine, but I didn’t have any pain when I could finally walk to the toilet and sit down on it. Oh well, the road hasn’t been that horrible though; just one more thing… still looking at an August celebration; I can’t wait!

Call Me Vampira

Sunday I get another transfusion, and I’m actually looking forward to it. I never realized receiving another person’s red blood cells would make me feel so good; I guess I’m a vampire convert. Today I was able to wander around in my yard and do some minor pruning on my potted herbs. I’ve been a bit sleepy, but I haven’t felt the extreme tiredness I was feeling after the last treatment; I wasn’t short of breath or in need of a bench the whole time, and I feel pretty good about that. So watch out all you O positive & O negative folks out there, I now know what I need when I’m feeling tired and run down :).

I really had the best time pruning today. I simply love pruning my plants. I have a gorgeous pineapple sage plant that was all the more gorgeous after some taming. My basil plants also needed a bit of attention; they were starting to look very straggly, now their neat and tidy and ready to bear more delicious leaves. I also got a thai holy basil because I really love the flavor in my Vietnamese pho, but my husband had to pot it for me. I also stood outside while he planted a gorgeous dwarf magnolia for me, he wanted my help making sure he got the depth of the rootball right, and help making sure he had it positioned just right. The rootball I was helpful with, but he noticed when we were done that the tree was a bit lopsided; it looked straight to me… I blame chemo eyes :).

I do think this round of chemo has caused me to lose my appetite a bit. I’m not nauseated, but my stomach jumps and heaves a lot even taking kytril and maxalon. It’s like some combination of a really intense hiccup and a burp, but the only sound is me gasping for air because it hurts and surprises me at the same time. At least it’s non-productive though, I don’t think I could take being sick at this point. Still I’m feeling better than the last time. I don’t get much of a break between treatments this time, so it’s nice not to be really unwell. I guess we’ll see how I’m feeling next week though… day 7, that’s the telling point.

I’ve been reading up on my stem cell harvest and I have to say it sounds intriguing, but pretty terrible. The blood thinner they’ll give me will apparently give me tingly, itchy lips… where do they come up with these side effects? I currently take a drug called neulasta the day after every round of chemo to help rebuild my immune system. For the stem cell harvest I’ll be taking neulasta’s predecessor, neupogen for somewhere between six and twelve days, and they’re promising me some pretty severe bone pain to go along with that. Bone pain, itchy, tingly lips, tingly tongue, mouth sores, mystery rash, chemo eyes, chemo brain, general stomach discombobulation… and that’s the cure :). Funny I only had leg and back pain as a symptom of the cancer, but I guess it was leg and back pain, soon to be accompanied by death, so I’ll suck it up and deal with my side effects, all the while looking forward to August when I should be on the mend for real. I think August is going to become one of my favorite months.

The count down to a delicious night of sushi begins soon! Look out August here I come.