Friday, December 05, 2014

First Round of Chemo... CHECK

I still can't believe I'm saying that I have leukemia. It just doesn't seem real; and I was diagnosed
over 20 days ago.

I just finished my first full round of chemo on Tuesday which I suppose is somewhat exciting.

There were three different chemo treatments I was getting--two from an IV, using a port in my chest to not damage the smaller veins in my arms and hands, and then a pill that I'm supposed to take twice a day (my oral chemo).

One chemo is called Idarubicin. It would only be infused only for 30 minutes a day for three days.

I also had a continuous bag of Cytarabine that was infused for 24 hours for four days. Plus I had several other things being pumped through my body... antibiotics, prechemo meds, zofran, potassium etc. (With the Cytarbine I had do to two eye drops in each eye, four times daily because it can cause conjunctivitis.

The last was the medication is the oral chemo pills called Nexavar. They were 6400 bucks, which is crazy. Luckily our insurance covered it. I had to take two pills, two times daily for seven days. They are supposed to attack my bad FLT 3 mutation in my bone marrow.

So I had a lot of IVs hooked into me through my port and even my hand, and if I needed to go to the bathroom, I have push this little cart around so my fluids could stay running continuously. Fun stuff.

It's even more fun when air gets in the line or an infusion is complete and starts beeping super loudly over and over until a nurse walks in an fixes it, which over here could take up to 20 minutes or more.

We have found the "silence" button, but it only silences it for about a minute or so.

Now imagine having a whole bunch of fluids being shoved into your system and that pump beeping every few minutes all through the night--and literally as I'm typing this, it started beeping.

So I started chemo Monday night and finished all of IV chemo by Friday and the finally finished my oral chemo Tuesday, Dec. 2.

The first immediate side effect of chemo was the disgusting taste in my mouth. Water didn't taste right. It tasted salty. Nothing tastes good. Just recently things started to taste a little better and I'm able to tolerate Gatorade and water, and a few other things.

I have gotten sick a few times, but not too bad. Now things on the other end of my body have not been so pleasant.

And that hasn't been fun--having tummy issues. But mostly I've been really tired and now running fevers here and there, which they say is normal.

I am neutropenic; that's a fancy way of saying I'm prone to getting any infections really easy. So anyone who is sick, with a runny nose or cough or anything should come up here to visit me. In fact, they are reducing my visitors that I can have daily. So if I do know you, please do not just show up. I may be feeling terrible over the next week or so still and I may not want visitors or may not be able to have them.

Now that I'm done with my first round, I just basically have to sit around and wait. The chemo kills and wipes out everything--the good cells and the bad. So once my levels start to build back up, they will do another bone marrow biopsy to determine the next step (more chemo or a bone marrow transplant).

The truth is, I noticed last night my hair is starting fall out; that is a whole-other-emotion right there.

I mean I've always shed a lot of hair, so much so that I had to keep our Swiffer in our bathroom to do a quick sweep after I dried it. And normally that always led me to an impulse decision to wack it off at some point. But I always felt the shorter my hair, the fatter I look.

And it's definitely falling out today. It's not in clumps or anything, just lots of long strands of hair are everywhere.

Let me go back to the first few days of chemo.

It was my first round.
I've never done this before.
I was scared.
I was afraid.
I hated this new depressing building I'd been forced in to.
I missed my nurses in High Risk OB.
I missed my old room over on the fourth floor.
I missed my sons.
I missed my dogs.

Every time I heard the word chemo I'd cringe.
Every time they suited in their little suits with hazardous on the front I'd get a jolt to the stomach.
Every time I saw the yellow bags with the hazardous symbols on it, I'd begin to fall in to a stupor.
Every time I heard the words "I need someone to come check chemo, please," I thought 'this is the most depressing job on the face of the planet.'
Every time I heard the word "chemo" I'd get down and depressed.
Every time I'd hear some poor old person in the next room cough or get sick, I'd be sad for them.

By day 2 and 3 of chemo, I was at an emotional low. I was just down. I didn't want to get out of bed. I started having some tummy issues. Nothing was tasting good. I was losing my appetite.

I looked around at my family and felt bad for them. Bad that they'd have to watch me go through this, bad that they would watch my body begin to deteriorate before my counts would start to go back up.

We weren't sure what the side effects would be for me. I'm younger than most folks that get this so it all depends on how my body handles it.

Most side effects are:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fevers
  • mouth sores 
  • hair loss
  • GI problems
  • heart problems
  • among many, many other things
I definitely have had the first four, but mostly the third one, and it's been brutal. There has been nothing quite like it.

So this past week I haven't really felt too well. I've had a low-grade fever most of the day the past few days and so exhausted I can barely stand. I just felt completely wiped out.

I've been through so much emotionally the past two weeks. I found I have leukemia while 29 weeks pregnant. I had a bone marrow biopsy. I was induced into labor for 24 hours and called a "failed induction" because I wasn't progressing enough. Two days, later I had a premature baby with no epidural. I started chemo treatment just three days after having my precious boy. I got a really bad cold that took forever to get rid of. I started feeling the side effects of the chemo only a few days later. I became neutropenic. Now, I'm losing my hair and still having loose BM's. 

It's been brutal these past few weeks, but I also know how thankful I am to have each day I have, even if I feel terrible. My boy is doing great. Brody is managing and spending quality time with family and Klay is focused on getting us back together as a family... with all of us healthy.

All of your love and support help me make it through each day, and I truly from the bottom of my heart am forever grateful for you prayers and your gifts.

I still have a few weeks in this place, so I'm praying I make it through without any sort of infection---that would be the best case scenario. Once my blood counts start to go back up, they will do another bone marrow biopsy and see how the chemo did---hopefully it kicked those cancer cells to the curb!

Then we will talk about our next steps.

I'm writing this story too, because I want to keep everyone informed. But I will admit it is very difficult to respond to every text, FB message, etc. 

Right now we are waiting and twiddling our thumbs, which means I'm thinking about not having the nursery even started yet, or having a crib or having our bathroom finished. LOL. Typical Cass... I'm a worry wart. 

In all truth, those things don't matter to me. Of course anyone would like them to be done, but I honestly don't care. I know those things are not important. I really, truly and deeply understand that now. I honestly don't care that it's not finished, or if my house is a mess, or the dishes don't get cleaned, and I don't care that we have only one bathroom we can use. 

I just want to be home with all my boys, changing dirty diapers and playing "pow pow" with Bro, and have a healthy family. That's all I want in this life--and it'd be nice if it could all happen before Christmas. That would truly be a day to celebrate.

Oh! And make sure to listen to the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning Show Monday between 7-8 am! They called me this week and surprised me. Oh what a blessing that was, and they totally lifted my spirits. And thank you to my friend, Wanda for nominating us. Now that woman... is an amazing, uplifting woman; a woman like no other!

Thank you all for your kind words, thoughts and prayers,