Sorry I have been very sporatic with these posts lately. To say It has been a very difficult couple weeks would be an understatement :) And when I am feeling terrible I just don't have it in me to write about how terrible I am feeling :) I thought today I would kind of fill in the blanks of what has been going on. So todays will be a recap post up until where we are now.
At the beginning the chemo didn't really affect me adversely much at all. The big thing was they pump a lot of fluid through you to ensure you are peeing because the chemo can really damage your kidneys. So in the first 24 hours I gained something like 8 pounds in water weight. Here I was coming into this with the excitement of maybe losing some weight and I put on 8 pounds. I couldn't believe it :) Other than the gaining water weight (which I lost over the next two days) I "got through" chemo fairly unscathed. Now I put the got through in quotations because other than causing nausea chemo doesn't do anything until a week or two after the treatment. Then it starts giving you lots of lovely presents :)
The next phase was to begin a twice a day regimin of full body radiation for next three days. The radiation I hated most because it has the most horrible smell as the xrays mixed with the air molecules while they are irradiating your head. Other than that though the procedure was completely painless. After my first treatment while I was still lying on the bed I thought, hmm...this isn't so bad. Then I tried to get up and nearly fell back down. You feel like you just did a 3 hour total body workout. The after effect of radiation is complete and utter exhaustion. And it is additive because you are going twice a day. On the morning of the third treatment I didn't even want to get out of bed. :) The other side effect is it gave me a nice red glow all over my body. I think I look more like a tomato now that a person.
The sixth and final dose of radiation was monumental in two ways because I was finally done. I can't tell how fast I got out of there. I was even pushing the wheels of the wheelchair as the porter wheeled me back to my room. Right after the radiation I received my stem cell transplant. I wrote a post on my thoughts and feeling towards it (It is called I have been Reborn check it out if you haven't already read it). It was a very surreal feeling to be holding a complete strangers life force that they took time out of their busy lives to give so that I could survive. When you actually receive the transplant there actually isn't as much to it as you may think. The team her uses a lot of prophylatic medication to prevent any negative side effects. The main meds are gravol and then benedryl. While they are infusing the stem cells you get fairly cool because they have been kept chilled but other than that you don't feel anything. My transplant took a total of 20 minutes. After that the pre drugs kick in and I passed out for the next 5 hours. Amy had two really cool nurses that they were able to chat together while the transplant was all happening which I think helped calmed her nerves. Me I was basically stoned with all the drugs so I just lay in the bed and listened to them talk about Hollywood.
From that point on it has been a waiting game for my counts to crash and my new cells to take over my bone marrow factories and start making me new blood cells. The waiting game is when all the horrible things happen though. DISCLAIMER the next section will be a little more graffic if that isn't to your liking scroll down.
First the radiation reaks havoc everywhere but the worst is really does a number on lining of your stomach. So everything upsets it you get really bad diarehea. On top of this you are still absolutely exhausted from the treatments themselves. Unfortunaly this time period fell over christmas eve and christmas day. Decemenber 23 I basically laid in the fetal position or sat on the toilet. Let me just tell you, that beday is an abosulte godsend. The morning of christmas eve I was feeling better but not great. Thankfully I did feel much better in the afternoon and Amy and I were able to celebrate christmas with her family. Christmas day also I had enough energy for us to celelbrate with my family. Now you might not think that a hospital room would be all to festive but I have a magnificent view of the city and Amy made sure we had a christams tree in our room. My mom also brought us some christas hats to top off the festivities.
What makes the diareahea so bad isn't what you would think it is. Because the radiation beat up my stomach lining I had to cut out a lot of things from my diet. By a lot of things I mean anyhing with flavour. My diet was basically water for a couple days there. Earlier this past week I decided to try popsicles and Mr Noodles and both work pretty good. A major side effect is diminished appetitite. For those that knew me before it can be quite alarming to see what I eat now. But my stomach seems to be slowly mending and I can tolerate some foods. It won't fully heal until my counts come back.
This was the week that my blood counts crashed as well. I have been a sitting duck (as I called it in induction for five days now). This is where I have no neutriphil counts which are the blood cells used to fight infection. I spiked a fever a couple days ago, which all but guarentteed when you go through this process. They act very quickly with taking many different types of cultures and running a bunch of tests. While the wait for the results the immediately start me two different broad spectrum antibiotics. I actually looked at it as a good thing it happened so early because now while I am going through this dangerous time I have all these extra drugs to help keep me safe. THey won't take me off the antibiotics now until my stem cells engraft. The fever isn't bad other than you are really hot and high alert for everything. Any change whatsoever you have to report so you don't sleep all that well. Thankfully my fever has been breaking the past couple days. It does creep back up but aslways come back down again so it has been nice not to sweat as much.
In addition to my neuts crashing my platelets have as well. The normal count range is 150-400 I believe.
Well on wednesday my count was 3. So I received my first platelet transfusion. Yesterday the count was 10 which is the cut off point for transfusions so today I am expecting to probably need more platelets today. My red counts are dropping to so soon I will need those as well. For all of you who have donated blood I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is donations like yours that is the only thing keeping me alive while I wait for my engraftment. Please continue to donate and get anyone you know to donate as well, it is one of the few ways were you aare guarenteed that your hour spent will save at least 2 lives.
The past day and a half I have been dealing with horrible pain in my legs. They say that as the cells engraft your long bones can be extremely painful but everyone tells me I am way to early to be engrafting yet. Who knows why it is happening but it sure hurts. Thankfully with cancer patients they are extrememly liberal with their drugs so I have pretty spent the last 24 hours on morphine. It isn't crazy high doses like the ones that cause hallucinations but it does take the edge off quite nicely. I actually had a joke with amy. I told her for New years eve she should sneak a little wine into the hospital and I would have some morphine and we could have a great celelbration :)
Well that is pretty much everything up until now. My hair began to fall out yesterday so I look like I have terrible balding. It should probably be gone today today or tomorrow. I haven't gotten the mouth sores as of yet but I assuming that is my treat for this weekend. Also with a transplant some patients throats get so sore that they can't swallow anything. I haven't gotten this yet. My throat is sore but feels more like the sore throat you get when you have a cold. I figure if I am going to get the bad throat it will be this weekend too.
Sorry this was so long but I thought this was easier than sending out a million emails. For those that I owe an email to, I will still get back to you just not sure when. I hope you all have a wonderful New Years Eve and bring in the new year with a bang!!Did you enjoy my post today? Save yourself time and have my all my new posts delivered directly to your email. Click Here to Subscribe to Aaron Outward by Email