Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Accidental Astronaut

Pun fully intended above.

Yesterday was a milestone; one I didn't think I would reach for a bit nor was I fully prepared for it. I'm off chemo.

Well sort of, so before you start whooping it up there is a catch. Lemme rewind...

It had been a few weeks since I'd met with Dr. Lee and we'd last talked about possibly switching me to oral chemo (my old friend Xeloda) to finish things off. I'd made noise then about the neuropathy and how my fingertips were numbing and both my feet were constantly freezing numb. We agreed to go two more rounds. Round nine was on when Brie passed and only Grace carried me through that without days of ill effect. Round ten was last week and pounded me harder than ever before. Compounding that was Jody needed to be away for the week for training so I was on my own with the dogs to care for. I was sick for five days straight until Thursday this week I finally got some relief.

Of course, that was the day Dad was scheduled to go in for his dialysis catherter surgery which had been worrying me all week too. I can put on a good show for "routine" surgeries but it doesn't mean I'm not still worried. Thankfully Dad's procedure went just fine and, though he's got some expected abdominal pain, he was able to get up and down under his own steam that afternoon. I'm hoping to visit he and Mom today now that Jody is home too.

Thursday evening I was glad I'd been able to go with Mom to the hospital and I was feeling much better than I had all week. The boys had been very depressed all week with no Jody around so I asked them if they wanted to go for a drive. They perked up at that as did I and we went out for an easy loop around 108 down to 32 and back up 95 to home. I noticed Bailey still nursing and licking at one of his feet when we got back and found it was bleeding. (Yes, there are bloodstains in my car now too.)

It was too late for the regular vet so I called the overnight place. The nurse there encouraged me to keep an eye on him and bring him in if it got worse. The bleeding had largely stopped and Bailey was curled up asleep by the time I got off the phone. In the morning, I made an appointment to have him checked out... the poor guy keeps hurting both of his hind feet but this was the first time anything had bled.

But that had to be after I'd visit Dr. Lee again...

I came in with only two items on my agenda; I needed two more packets of the lovely anti-nausea pills that go with each chemo drip and can we PLEASE talk about stopping the oxiliplatin because my fingers and feet are now blocks of ice.

She asked me how things were going and I relayed my bullets to her. She asked if the anxiety was still there and I had to admit it was but the little ativan pills helped and I planned on taking one next week to help psych me up for round eleven. All of this must have tipped the scales because she suggested enough had been enough... but...

She began to tell me about a drug called Avastin that I'd be switching too along with Xeloda to polish off the full chemotherapy treatment. I've already been getting Avastin as part of my cocktail; it is the piece that interrupts the signaling of cancer cells to blood vessel cells to make new blood vessels. We'll finish off the poison that kills the cancer cells (and others) and stop the little knives from flying around bursting capilaries that slows new cell growth, but we have to keep any living cells left from growing.

This started computing in my brain and I asked the obvious question of how long this would last. I dod not remember learning about any sort of maintenance therapy only monitoring and possibly needing more attention once this was all over with. Getting to "over with" has become one of the last few things I've been trying to reach... and all this sounded like was MORE.

I held it together until I left and had a good cry in the car. Jody was in class, Mom was home caring for Dad, Bailey was hurt and needed me to get him to the vet, and I had already postponed visiting with Alex because of Bailey. I felt like I'd been just barely climbing mountains and now I had to fly to the Moon. I just prayed.

I got some peace and a little perspective in response and I was thankful. Yes I'll still be going in for regular drips every other week but I won't be taking home that annoying little pump overnight. (I can still hear that thing and it makes me feel sick.) This Avastin stuff does have some side effects but nothing like the sapping sickness of the IV chemo, flourouroouroro-whatzit. I get a month off before we start this phase and there will be a third PET/CT scan in there to see how things have changed since the reversal surgery. This may, for all practical reasons, mean my last batch of really sick days just passed me by.

And yeah, that brings tears to my eyes but this morning they are happy ones. :')


Ann Geoge said...

John---I cannot tell you how much your writing inspires me and puts everything into perspective. You have a special talent and I want to thank you for sharing it.

I keep you in my prayers.

tinkknitz said...

John, thanks for the reminder. When someone else is sick and needs our attention, it does serve a purpose. It makes us focus on someone other than ourselves. That is a good thing. It's good to know we were made for something other than being the sickly one. Our families, who have been caring for us, would never utter a word of complaint at this point. So. Can I manage to swallow my own crap for a bit of a day and pitch in without whining? Lord I hope so. I can't do this alone. I wear a bracelet supporting bone marrow donation. It reads:


I need to read it more often.

Katie Valentine said...

Sco, hang in there bud. God isn't going to give you more then you can't handle. Be thankful for your hard times because you learn from them.

Anonymous said...

I'm feelin' for you Sco. This has been going on way too long. Here's to you getting well. And FEELING BETTER soon!