Tweets for the Week of 01-06-2014

Tweets for the Week of 12-30-2013

2014’s Resolution

This is normally when I look back on the spent year and reflect upon what I’ve accomplished and what I haven’t and then go on to set some goals for the new year. My focus has typically been on my writing, as that’s been the main goal-related emphasis of my energies, attention, and ambition for over a decade, arguably for most of my lifetime. But this year, my priorities are different. 2014 will be all about kicking cancer’s ass, taking back what it has stolen from me, and most of all, simply surviving it.

I’m finding, halfway through my chemo schedule, that I’m going through cycles of bleakness heading into each new round. The pain and exhaustion and sickness that accompanies the start of each cycle, the increasing mental fogginess–it’s becoming terribly easy to fixate on what I’m going through, which in turn makes me more inclined to wallow in the dourer possibilities and spiral into negativity and depression. And I realized I need to zoom out a bit. These upcoming months are not going to be ones to savor, not ones to stop and sniff flowers during; they’re something that must be endured and then put behind me.

So this year, my resolution is to keep looking forward, head up and eyes planted firmly on the horizon, and to maintain the certainty that I will get to that distant place up ahead. All this necessary unpleasantness will do upon me as it must as I forge along, with each step bringing me closer to a time when this will become something I went through–in the past and done with, albeit not forgotten.

Goodbye and good riddance, 2013. Bring it, 2014.

Tweets for the Week of 12-16-2013

Surprise Lumbar Puncture Chemotherapy and Getting Ready for Chemo Round 3

Had my pre-chemo doctor’s appointment yesterday morning and while at the pre-appointment bloodwork lab, discovered that I was scheduled for a procedure that afternoon which wasn’t on either my or Matthew’s calendar. The lab check-in people didn’t have the access to determine what the procedure was so we had to wait until we saw my doctor to find out it was for my first lumbar puncture chemo infusion.

The doctor was ready to postpone it, as he could tell I wasn’t mentally prepared for it–I’d been expecting to go back to work after my morning appointment with him–but Matthew and I talked it over and figured it made more sense for me to just get it over and done with.

The reason I need to have lumbar puncture chemotherapy is because blood cancers like lymphoma and leukemia can spread to the brain and cerebrospinal areas, with some–including ones that present in the nasopharyngeal area like mine–having a higher likelihood. However, most chemo drugs can’t penetrate the blood-brain barrier, and because of that, the cerebrospinal area is considered a “sanctuary” location for cancer cells. So even though my original lumbar puncture biopsy was clean, it’s possible the sample missed cancer cells if there aren’t very many. As such, it’s standard procedure to administer chemo drugs via lumbar puncture to cases like mine in addition to the regular cycles of chemo cocktail I’m on. I’m slated to have a total of four of these lumbar puncture chemo sessions.

One down, three to go.

The procedure itself was kinda ouchie at first, felt like the big nerve in my lower back and down my leg was being twanged and pinched repeatedly…which, I guess it was. But the nurse/doctor (I’m not actually sure if it was a nurse practitioner or a doctor doing the procedure) was extremely responsive, communicative, and kind, and she saw I was in pain–both from the change in my breathing and my yelp–and switched to the smaller (black v. yellow*) needle. That switch made all the difference. It went from unpleasantly uncomfortable to hardly more than a minor prick. She also made a note in my folder to use the black needle on my lumbar punctures from now on.

Also learned an interesting factoid. When administering chemo via lumbar puncture, they take out exactly as much spinal fluid as chemo drug that they plan to inject in order to maintain the fluid balance. The spinal fluid they took out they’re sending to check for cancer cells. Waste not and all, I guess.

Little sore still this morning, but at least no spinal headache. Went back to work today as this drug (methotrexate) isn’t expected to have the same level of side effects as the rest of my chemo cocktail, and I’ll be out of the office after tomorrow’s round three infusion blitz through the new year.

*Isn’t it so apropos that the needle color indicators are bee colors?

Tweets for the Week of 12-09-2013

Tweets for the Week of 12-02-2013

Hello, Peripheral Neuropathy

This round of chemo, thus far, has been easier on me than the first one, but there are still some surprises to enjoy, apparently.

Still struggling to control the chemo-nausea, but it’s getting better. Weaning off the Ativan, drinking more ginger ale, taking Zofran round the clock, and continuing to take Benadryl as a just-knock-me-out recourse. This strategy seems to keep the queasies mostly under control.

However, now I’m having the onset of a shiny, new side effect: annoying tingling in my hands and feet (i.e., peripheral neuropathy)–I assume due to the Vincristine in my chemo cocktail. It’s not terrible, but it is quite uncomfortable. When it got truly unpleasant yesterday, I took a Benadryl to render me comatose and felt better when I regained consciousness.

Benadryl appears to be my new panacea for side effects. Yay unconsciousness.

Tweets for the Week of 11-25-2013