Back in the hospital again for my last week of inpatient radiation and chemo.
Last week at home was probably my most down point yet. My mouth and throat got progressively more sore over the week and my mouth was very dry, all of which combined to make eating a real chore. My energy is also very low, so I spent a lot of time sleeping.
My concentration has also been really fleeting – it’s rare that I can get through reading an entire page without losing the thread, if not dropping off to sleep.
Luckily, we were fortunate to have good friends around for most of the week. Jody was out from D.C., and Ed came in from Seattle – a huge shot out to both of them for all the help they gave us in addition to the invaluable friendship and emotional support. My cousin Wendy was in town from London to celebrate her mom’s 92nd birthday, so we got to see both of them, My old friend and klezmer-mate Brad breezed through on his way to a family bar-mitzvah, and Bryn came over and hung out for an evening. All that combined to make it feel not so bad, and sped the week along. By Sunday morning I started to feel a little better, and Michele and I got out for a nice walk along the lake before I had to check back in.
Now I just have to get through this week and then I can start the recovery process. I’m told that the first two weeks after treatment ends can be hard ones, but that people generally start to feel a little better three or four weeks out.
New music I brought to check out this week:
Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio
Esperanza Spalding, Radio Music Society
Jack DeJohnette, Sound Travels
Punch Brothers, Who’s Feeling Young Now
If you’re in the neighborhood, come on by and visit! I’m in Mitchell Hospital, room TS-661.
After a couple of days of pumping me full of antibiotics and fluids they decided that whatever had caused the fever had passed and the sent me home.
The rest of the week was about learning the message of pain management. I’m used to thinking of pain as a transient phenomenon that will go away in some relatively short time. But in my current situation the pain will not go away until the treatment is over, so the trick is to learn how to live with it. The combination of narcotics (oxycodone in my case) and topical anesthetic mouth rinses every few hours make it possible to keep the pain at bay, at the cost of being rather spaced out (the docs made a strong point of telling me no driving while using oxycodone).
Yesterday (Sunday) I checked back into the hospital for the third week of the combined chemo/radiation treatment (out of five total – getting there!). I wasn’t feeling great when I checked in, and sure enough it turned out that I had a fever again, along with some low blood counts. I spent last night getting pumped full of more antibiotics, idly
watching snoozing through the Oscars (Billy Crystal again?), and once the fever had come done they started giving me a couple units of blood. This is the first time I’ve ever had a transfusion – there’s something a little creepy about the idea, in a vampirish sort of way, but I’m trying not to dwell on that!
Hopefully they’ll get me back within normal ranges this morning so they can start the chemo and radiation today. And I’m hoping that having missed a night of chemo doesn’t mean I have to spend an extra night in the hospital before going home at the end of the week. In the meantime, I’ve got some work to do, season 1 of Portlandia to watch (as well as the season finale of Downton Abbey which I missed while in the ER), and some new tunes to listen to (Miguel Zenon’s Alma Adentro, Oz Noy’s Twisted Blues, and Lee Morgan’s Cornbread).
It sure was nice to get home on Friday, but over the weekend I felt progressively worse. By Sunday afternoon I had developed a fever of 100.2 and started puking (for the first time since starting cancer treatment, I’ll have you know). We called in to the docs and they told me to come on down to the ER.
After some blood work and X-rays, the best guess is that I’ve caught some common virus unrelated to the cancer treatment. So they kept me in last night and tonight while they pump me full of fluids and a variety of antibiotics. The fever and nausea appear to be gone, bit my gut still isn’t back to par. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get to go back home again so I at least get a few days before I have to check back in again on Sunday.
I’m waiting for them to bring on the DNA nanobots!.
In the meantime, my dad arrived from Seattle tonight. It’ll be great to spend a few days with him this week!