Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fire and Ice

Last Wednesday was my second dose of Taxotere. In my best effort to ward off side effects, I gulped down nearly 2 liters of water prior to the treatment. We were home, all ready to go, and then the phone rang. There was a problem at the pharmacy inside the hospital -something with ventilation - and they were unable to prepare the drugs for me. Thankfully, we weren't yet on our way and could just sit at home and wait.

Ole decided to take advantage of the little break and put on his painting clothes. Just as he was halfway through painting a window the phone rang again and now, of course, they were ready for us! He predicted that simply by changing his clothes and getting out the paint brush, they'd be ready, and he was right!!

When I go in for each treatment there is a whole question and answer session about the side-effects from the last time. This is where they decide what other glorious pharmaceuticals they will send me home with - more little bags of pills! The best thing is that I never have to go to the pharmacy for any of this stuff, they just give me little baggies with whatever pills I'm supposed to take.

In reviewing the last treatment, and my complaints about the numb fingers, it was decided that my hands would be put on ice. The nurse came with two frozen gloves and stuck my hands into them... holy ice, that hurt! But, I kept telling myself, if it helps, it's worth it!!

During the course of treatment, these frozen gloves came in quite handy. You see, one of the other wonderful side effects of all of this is that my body goes through menopause... or as it's called in some places, chemopause. And with chemopause, comes hot flashes. They were interesting and fascinating when they started, now they're just annoying! However, if you happen to be wearing an ice glove when you get a hot flash, just put your hand on your head and you'll instantly feel better!

After treatment, I was feeling the usual tiredness and spent the last few days just trying to take it easy knowing the worst was yet to come. Yesterday I spent most of the day in and out of sleep and wasn't feeling great last night so I decided at 10:30 pm that I would just go to bed. I mentioned to Ole that I was cold and as he gave me a hug, he said... "You're not cold, you're burning up." Bah. We then took my temperature, and yep, I had a fever.

The 'book' says that if I have a fever, I'm supposed to call them immediately and we did. And then, an hour later, I found myself in a small room, in a bed, in the hospital. They spent the next hour poking me, drawing blood, checking me, questioning me, etc., trying to determine whether it was just a fever or if I could have contracted something else. With my blood counts so low from the chemo, I'm not really able to fight off any possible infections, so they have to be extra cautious. Finally, they hooked up an IV with some antibiotics and saline and let me sleep, and Ole went back home.

After a frustrating morning of waiting around to see whether or not they'd let me come back home, and some pretty decent breakfast and lunch at the hospital, the doctor finally came to talk to me around noon. My fever had gone down and they cleared me for release. And here I am, home again!

So how did you spend your Saturday night?!

Friday, August 7, 2009


Tap tap tap... is this thing on?

Hello world - I'm alive!

Last Tuesday was my first treatment with Taxotere (aka docetaxel). It seemed innocent enough. Oh sure, they warned about allergic reactions that can happen within the first 10 minutes of treatment, but I didn't experience that. I figured I was home free. I ... was wrong.

The day of treatment and the next day I had my usual tiredness but overall the Taxotere seemed to have much less impact than the previous treatments. I was thinking to myself.. weee.. this isn't bad at all! And then slowly, gradually, it snuck up on me. All my chanting of No Whammies, No Whammies, No Whammies... and then the little whammie with a lawnmower plowed through.

I don't remember the order of which horrible reaction came first, but I can tell you that if you go through the booklet of possible side effects and put a nice little check mark next to each one I felt, or am feeling, you end up with more marks than a high school trigonometry test.

I'll spare you all the gory details because 1. they'd probably gross you out, and 2. typing is still painful. Suffice it to say I'd rather have 2 more treatments of the first chemo drug than 2 more taxotere, but I don't get a choice in the matter. The worst effects that I'm still feeling are the numbness in my fingers (hence the typing issues) and the fact that nothing I eat tastes the way it's supposed to taste. Even water tastes funky! And, if you wish to share in my current misery, go to the kitchen and grab a bit of unsweetened chocolate as that will simulate what ALL chocolate is currently tasting like. They really should've warned me about that part. However, in fairness, had they done so, I would have been running out of there kicking and screaming.

There was one upside to the last treatment. While I was getting my treatment, a nurse came in and asked if I would like some lunch!! When she said that I could have tarteletter, I was so excited that nothing else mattered. The only other time that I ever get these is for julefrokest or easter time, made by my mother-in-law. This wasn't the hospital food they served back in the US!! One giant point for the Danish medical system...

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