Neutrophils and Incompetence

So, yesterday Dr. Jackass told me my neutrophil count was 400, and they had to be 500 before I could leave. He told Dr. Kaplan the same thing, and he checked the numbers twice.

Turns out my neutrophils were 40. Normal neutrophil count is 2500 – 6000. Add that to my fever and I had febrile neutropenia.

Good news: today my neutrophils are up to 380 after two days at 40. Bad news: they’re making me stay here another night.

Super tired of looking at these four walls. Maybe now is a good time to start my novel.

A Very Merry Chemomas!

Just by way of update!

My stomach is still a total wreck. I emailed with my doc who told me this concerns him and is NOT normal. He said to take 2 Imodium up to 4 times a day and if that doesn’t fix it, he wants me to schedule an appointment. Well, the Imodium stopped the diarrhea, so that is SUPER. Sadly I am still uncomfortable, crampy, and bloated, but still – huge improvement!

In other news – the hair loss has begun! Not too bad yet, just shedding way more than normal. As mentioned previously, I have a crazy amount of hair, so if it thins uniformly, it won’t be terribly noticeable. If it starts falling out in clumps, though, it’s head shaving time. 

Also I don’t have dry mouth (yet) but my tongue and the roof of my mouth feel like sandpaper. Such a weird and unpleasant sensation.

And finally – Merry Christmas! In spite of the stomach situation, I’ve been having a very nice day with my family and thinking a lot about how lucky I am and how wonderful my friends are. Hope you’re all having a beautiful day, whether it’s Christmas to you or not. ❤

Chemo I: Administration


InstagramCapture_890b3d66-ea4c-4917-9f68-06c49f70b7f4I think I’ll do two posts on these chemos. Because let’s face it – there’s the administration, and then there’s the side effects.

I went in today scared as hell. It was nothing. They numbed the port site with Lidocaine to take my blood and until the Lupron shot, that was the worst pain I had.

So, first: Took two dexamethasones before bed and two in morning before chemo to help avoid allergic reaction. Side effect is insomnia – didn’t have that problem.

Next: Blood work. NBD. No weird taste from saline, which they warned me I might have.

Next: Pre-meds – a combination of two anti-nausea drugs (Emend and Aloxi) and one steroid (Dexamethasone), again to combat allergic reaction. No side effects except for some pain in my port shoulder. VERY mild. I wouldn’t even notice it except for the fact that they told me to report any and all condition changes.

Next: Taxotere. The baddy, this is the one with the more severe side effects of the two chemo drugs (and the one which WILL, the nurse informed me, cause me to lose my hair. “I thought a lucky 20% don’t lose their hair?” I asked her. She looked at me sympathetically. “Well – true. But you will definitely lose some.”*) I had zero reaction to this. Two nurses stood and stared at me while they started the drip and stayed there for about fifteen minutes till they were satisfied I wasn’t going have a seizure or anything, and the next 45 minutes were SUPER smooth sailing, occupied mostly by responding to kind, loving, supportive, and awesome posts and texts from my friends and family (seriously, thank you)!

Next: Potbelly Sandwiches, courtesy of my husband. Not part of the regimen, but it will likely become one.

Next: Cytoxan. They warned me I could get a sinus headache and I did almost immediately. Weird tingling in my nose followed by what felt just like sinus drip (but chemical-y), then slow build of pressure in my head. They slowed the drip and it relieved all but a mild headache. This was another hour, during which Jules and I started watching Trainwreck (it’s all right so far, nothing I’d recommend unless you were bored and wanted something brainless).

Next: Lupron. IN THE ASS. This has to be absorbed through the muscles so I had to get an injection. Seems sort of unfair with this perfectly good port (which by the way, as everyone said, is my best f**king friend after today – no IV!) but nurse’s orders.

After: Slightly dizzy, slightly nauseated, slight headache. Tried to take a nap but couldn’t. Julian sure could.

Now: Still headache, and feeling slightly logy (which may just as easily be a result of the emotional build up as of the meds). Just took some Advil to combat it.

Tonight: Another steroid pill, then two a day for the next three days. Zofran if needed for nausea. If that doesn’t work, Ativan.

TL;DR: Chemo administration was a piece of cake. I am home and well other than a slightly bothersome headache and some fatigue.

Now comes the hard part – side effects. Or will there be any at all? Stay tuned to find out.

*I have had several hair stylists offer to “thin” my hair over the years. I have more hair than God. It’s fine, so it’s super soft, but it’s so incredibly densely packed together that it breaks rubber bands, hearts, and expectations. I have always refused because I was concerned about what the grow out and maintenance would be like. I told Julian, “You know what’s going to happen? My hair is going to thin, become totally lovely and manageable, and I’ll be asking for more chemo to keep it that way.” Jk obviously, but it’s a nice thought.

Tomorrow: Chemo

Tomorrow is the big day – chemo session number one. I have been seeing my BC sisters struggling through chemo, being hospitalized, feeling defeated, vulnerable, and it has prepared me for the worst. Still, I keep hoping for the best – a friend told me his Dad had chemo and was never sick nor did he have any side effects. It happens to some people. Why not me? Keep sending me those warm, fuzzy vibes.

As a refresher, tomorrow I will be getting TC (taxotere/cytoxan) chemo for 3 1/2 hours, beginning at 8am (although I think the actual chemo part doesn’t start till 9ish – check in and blood tests first). I will be getting it through my portacath, which incidentally is still sore. I will also be getting Lupron, which shuts down my ovaries. Studies have shown this helps preserve fertility in pre-menopausal women. Additionally I believe this will also block estrogen from reaching any of those little ER+ cancer cells that might be hanging out anywhere. Down side: I’ll basically be menopausal, with all the awesome symptoms of that, for the duration of the chemo.

I talked to my doctor and we have opted to go cycle one with no Neulasta or daily shots. I am young and healthy, so he says he will check my WBC count before the next cycle. If numbers are good, we can avoid the side effects of those meds. If not, he says he will “have to encourage” me to get them.

Right now the biggest issue for us is everything is the unknown. Will I get sick? How sick? When? Will I lose my hair? All of it? Some of it? My eyebrows? Will I get fat? Lose weight? Be nauseated? Constipated? Have diarrhea? Anything is possible. Nothing is possible. Which makes it all rather impossible.

I am scared.

I am scared I am scared I am scared I am scared I am so damned scared.

I don’t know why I just – I am having like a fear panic attack. I am supposed to be going out with a friend tonight and my hands are shaking and I am nauseated. I assume it’s because I will be seeing the doctor tomorrow and finding out my treatment schedule, but I don’t know why that should scare me any more than what I already know. Still.

I am so scared.