Tweets for the Week of 04-07-2014

Round 2 of Chemo: Dilaudid, PICC Line and Port, etc.

Another virtue of the Dilaudid–aside from its miraculous ability to take my pain away in such a speedy fashion–is that it totally knocks me out. In hospitals, with nurses coming in every few hours, beeping IV pumps, the uncomfortable bed, etc., this is incredibly welcome. My last three stays here, as much as I’ve found this to be one of the nicest hospitals evah, were all punctuated by painfully extreme insomnia.  Last night, aided by Dilaudid, I slept a full night, and even when the nurses did come in to check my vitals and change out my IV meds, I just peered groggily up, offered them my arm for the blood pressure cuff, and promptly rolled over and went back to sleep. Well rested win.

Today begins Day 2 of my R-ICE infusion. Yesterday was an easy couple hours of Etoposide, a relatively painless and mild chemo drug (comparatively speaking). Today, I’m getting all four: Rituximab, Ifosfamide, Carboplatin, and another dose of Etoposide (R-ICE). I’ve had Rituximab before (the “R” in “R-CHOP”), and after that, the Ifosfamide is the most likely to cause bad reactions upon infusion. It’s the one where I need to be monitored for grade I through IV neurocortical toxicity: lethargy, disorientation, hallucinations/delusions, and coma (respectively).  Obviously, we’re hoping for zero grade or low grade. It’s also got some nasty side effects to look forward to, but they’re giving plenty of supplementary meds to hopefully mitigate those.

They installed a temporary PICC line in my arm for this first round of R-ICE infusions. They’ll actually remove it and surgically install a port catheter to replace it after this round, right before I leave the hospital.  They would’ve installed the port for this time, except it really should have a couple days to heal before being used. While I’m not thrilled about having a constant line in me, the number of needle jabs the PICC has already saved me–as it can be used for both infusions and to pull blood for labs—really makes it, and ditto the port, I’m assuming, worth it.

Aaand here comes the lovely nurse with my next lovely dose of Dilaudid.  Signing off while I can still sit up without listing…
  

Round 2 of Chemo, Stem Cell Transplant, and Radiation–also Dilaudid

In the hospital now, receiving day one of a a three-day infusion schedule of chemotherapy.

After oxycodone and morphine did nothing for my pain, they started giving me injections of Dilaudid (hydromorphone), which is a narcotic having five times the potency of morphine, and not only does it work, but its effects are almost instantaneous, knocks me completely loopy, and makes me extremely nauseous. Normally, I’d rather be in pain than queasy, but for this sort of pain and this sort of pain relief, it’s a fair tradeoff in my book.  

Talked to my oncologist about my revised treatment in light of the PET scan and biopsy results. I’ll be doing three rounds of R-ICE chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant. We might do radiation between the chemo and the stem cell transplant.  That’s still up in the air.

R-ICE is a higher dose chemo regime than R-CHOP was; it’s also more complicated to administer, needing to be infused over three days. Hence, I’ll be in the hospital during the beginning of each chemo round. I’ll also need to be hospitalized during the stem cell transplant procedure for something like three weeks straight.

For my stem cell transplant, what they’ll be doing is harvesting my own stem cells over the course of my next couple chemo cycles and freeze it. Then when it comes time for the transplant itself, they’ll administer an ultra high dose (lethal) of chemo which will wipe out all of my bone marrow/white blood cells. Then they’ll pump my own stem cells back in to rescue me. It’s a fairly brutal procedure, but the idea is to completely eradicate all cancer cells and essentially reboot my system, cancer-free.

Ah, and here comes the nurse with my next shot of Dilaudid. Will have to finish this post later because…wheee…. 

Tweets for the Week of 03-31-2014

Biopsy on Wednesday: Formality Mostly

We’ve got an appointment this Wednesday to do a biopsy on the tumor, but the hopes I had that the PET scan results would turn out to be a false positive have been diminishing until they are essentially nil.

The swelling at the tumor site has noticeably increased in the short time since the PET scan, and even more telling, the pain from last year is back. It’s a very distinctive pain, unlike anything I’ve felt before all this. It’s unmistakable as anything else but a fast-growing mass pushing aside things in my head that really aren’t happy about being shoved aside. I’m back to taking daily painkillers, beginning to ramp up the doseages. And I remember why I was in such a hurry to begin chemotherapy, knowing it would be its own hell of sickness, weakness, and pain.

This thing growing in my head is aggressive. It’s scary-fast how quickly it has advanced already. Re-advanced. And now I just want to start knocking it back again, as soon as possible, before it takes back the hearing and breathing it stole from me back in September, before I lose any more ground to it. Even though I know that whatever our next treatment steps are going to be, they’ll be more brutal than what I’ve already gone through.

Tweets for the Week of 03-24-2014

For Your 2014 Hugo Nomination Consideration

I kinda missed posting this before the Nebula deadline, but there’s still almost a week before the Hugo nomination deadline (3/31). So, for your 2014 Hugo Nomination Consideration:

Short story “Trixie and the Pandas of Dread” published in the January 2013 issue of Apex Magazine and podcast in March of 2013 by Escape Pod (read by Mur Lafferty).

[Edit: I just learned that "Trixie" is up for Best Escape Pod Episode of 2013! *squee!* Voting ends April 2nd.]

Short story “Whatever Skin You Wear” published in the anthology Solaris Rising 2, edited by Ian Whates.


* Anyone who was or is a member of the 2013, 2014, or 2015 Worldcons as of January 31, 2014 is eligible to nominate for the 2014 Hugo Awards. To nominate head over the Loncon 3 Hugo Awards Website.

New Project Freshness: A Guest Post by Suzanne Church

elements_cvrI’m doing a blog tour swap with my good friend and fellow DC2K writer, Suzanne Church, for the release of her awesome short story collection, ELEMENTS.

Suzanne Church juggles her time between throwing her characters to the lions and chillin’ like a villain with her two sons. She writes Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror because she enjoys them all and hates to play favorites. Her award-winning fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Cicada, and On Spec, and in several anthologies including Urban Green Man and When the Hero Comes Home 2. Her collection of short fiction, ELEMENTS is published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.


suzanne_color-headshot-2012In my region of Canada, we’ve endured a long, intensely cold, endless-snowfall winter this 2013/14. Pretty much every casual conversation inevitably involves an exchange of weather complaints.

Enough already!

But if you ask a Canadian what they love about this country, often they’ll blurt out, “The changing seasons.”

We human beings require change. The need is encoded deep in our hindbrains. The proverbial spring fever and its associated rituals (if you catch my drift) turns us into prancing unicorns over the anticipation and glorious rebirth of spring.

Writing is the same.

The average writer spends six months to a year writing and editing a novel. In the lead-up to the book’s release, they usually spend another three to six months promoting the novel.

cw_68_350 hopeBy the time the promotion cycle is over, we’re desperate for a change. We want a new project, with fresh characters, exotic locations, and renewed conflict. We are so tired of the old novel that we probably need some distance from it.

Let’s call this phenomenon New Project Freshness or NPF for short.

Like the grizzlies hibernating in their dens, we are ready to emerge into the sunlight of a new project. Our plot-bellies are so empty we’re desperate for new morsels of crisis-goodness. Our prose muscles might be stiff, but with a few butt-in-chair sessions we’ll be nimbly constructing character-viewpoint-specific prose with crafted dexterity.

Because of the lead-times in publishing, some of the NPF happens in small chunks. For instance, after submitting your final draft to your editor, you might have two to three months before you receive either (a) their edits and/or (b) the copy edits.

During that time frame, you’ll likely need a quick fix of NPF, but you might not have enough time to dive full-tilt into a new novel. Some writers will spend this downtime outlining the next project. Others might use their subconscious to chew over ideas and instead draft a new short story or poem.

Once the edits arrive in your inbox, you’ll be hyper-focused on the novel again. Right after you submit your final edit, you might have another NPF window, or you might receive the galley proofs soon after.

Either way, you’ll have another window to work on other material before the sprint for the finish known as promotion.

I’m knee-deep in the promotion phase right now. I’ve set up my book tour dates, I’ve ordered the cake, and I’m participating in blog tours (like this one). But in the back of my mind, I’m starting to get really antsy.

In other words, I’m jonesing for some NPF. I want to start a new novel. I’m emotionally ready to immerse myself in a new world.

But first, I have some book launches and media engagements in April, and I need to prep my game face.

Soon, my writing. Oh so soon, you and I will have our time together.

So the next time you’re feeling as though you couldn’t possibly edit those pages one more time (ugh!) remind yourself that soon you’ll have some New Project Freshness.

And if you’re using your time efficiently, you’re probably already brainstorming some of the details of the next story. Maybe even working on the outline.

Spring is almost here. Sharpen your pencils. Those words are ready and eager to be written.


ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction by Suzanne Church is available now in Canada and April 30, 2014 in the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

Tweets for the Week of 03-17-2014