Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Sorry for the gap...

  Chemo went well except for my mis-timing the steroid I was supposed to take the day before, day of and day after. It stopped the itch I'd been fighting ever since they'd bandaged the PICC line, and didn't make me sleepy like the Benadryl I'd been taking, so I took it later in the day, not realizing I wouldn't be able to sleep on it. First time I've stayed awake 36 hours since I still had hair!

   The anti-nausea drug they gave me to take that morning (and as needed after) causes blurred vision-not something I'm fond of; I couldn't even read the captions on the TV at one point late that day. I stopped taking it 2 days after.

   They also gave me a prednizone generic to take instead of the Benadryl during the day if I was itching too badly, but it really made me feel "off" as well, so I've just been trying to ignore the itch and taking Benadryl to sleep when I need to.

    I was supposed to get the PICC line cleaned and re-dressed and have them draw blood the Thursday after chemo, and was feeling decent by then. They were predicting a foot of snow that day so Dottie told John to stay in Lawrence as he was supposed to have taken me. We had about 3-4" on the ground by the time we got ready to leave. We called to make sure the cancer center was open, then left and got on the freeway 4 blocks southeast of home, got about even with our house headed north and saw 2 jacknifed rigs and a box truck all stuck on a little rise going up to the next exit. It was snowing hard, and we probably had close to 7" by then. They were sideways enough we couldn't see the 3rd rig past them the same way. About 40 cars had pulled up as close as they could get thinking they were getting through somewhere; I hung back to give myself a run when they did clear, until cars started pulling past me to jam it up even more.

  About 45 minutes later a city snowplow came through and plowed the shoulder and I swung in behind him and idled up the shoulder to the next exit. (About 8 blocks northeast of home.) A car was stuck blocking the left turn lane, so I turned right, went down to the next intersection and then turned back west to head towards home. By then we were getting close to 10" of snow. I knew we'd never get back into the neighborhood with just my tires and the sand in the bed of the truck, so I found a gas station parking lot I could get into and Dottie put the chains on the truck while I sat with the door open and talked to her and made sure no one messed with her. Not much I could do, but figured I could whack them over the head with an oxygen bottle if I had to. I got very cold and wet, and I already had the beginnings of an upper respiratory bug starting (I'd been going to double check the antibiotic I already had a prescription for against the 2nd chemo drug when I went in that day). Dottie couldn't hook up the tensioners on the tire chains, so I got out and did that but ran my first bottle out while I was, and was too cold to realize or hear it clicking, so I crashed my O2 level. Got back in the truck, changed bottles while she put the 2nd chain on, hooked the tensioner up and then we worked our way home around a dozen stuck/stalled/abandoned cars.

   That night I started getting chills and shakes and ran a fever for a couple of hours. I broke it by rotating aspirin and Tylenol every 2 hours. Friday we did go in and get the line cleaned, blood drawn and because of the fever and stuff, the oncologist called me in. He said it was OK to break a fever that way, that I should add ibuprofen to the mix, and agreed that it probably was the respiratory bug and not an infection from the PICC line. He said the antibiotic was OK with the Alimta (the 2nd chemo drug instead of Taxol), and I started it that afternoon. The next night I went through a worse round of chills and fever, and broke it the same way, but stayed on the rotation through Sunday. Dottie had to work that day so she called John and my sister to come stay with me as she didn't dare leave me alone. 

   I kept the rotation up into Monday and then slowly spread the hours apart until Tuesday evening when I quit. Tuesday we got another foot of snow. Dottie had left her Malibu buried after the first storm and drove my truck all week. She finally dug her car out yesterday. Had PICC care again this last Thursday-still a high white count, the other numbers aren't middle range anymore, but aren't to the bottom, either. I started a 2nd round of antibiotic as I was (and am still) coughing up a bit of color, but other than that things are about as normal as they get anymore.

   My oldest son and his wife were both traveling this week, so they drove in from Colorado and dropped their dog off the weekend before the snow rather than kennel him. My son drove back in last Friday night to pick him up, and he and Dottie shoveled the sidewalk along the garage so the water has a place to drain as the melt starts, and they pulled a broken limb off a tree along the fence overhanging our power line into the house. It's supposed to be 58 by the time I have chemo again on Thursday. I can't wait for things to green up a bit outside! Last winter the grass stayed green all winter, then the drought hit this summer and it was scorched so badly it was brown before winter ever began. I'm hoping all the snow means maybe we're going to break the drought this year!

   I feel really guilty about Dottie having to shovel all this by herself. I know I can't, and she says it's OK, but I spent years trying to keep her from doing any of it after her hip and knee were done. She even went next door and shoveled out the grandmother next door's car as her kids couldn't be bothered. 

   I finally started feeling better on Sunday, though I'm still coughing up some phlegm. Yesterday after my son headed home to Colorado I spent the afternoon trying to figure out if I could draw Medicaid to go with the Social Security disability that will start in June (no money 'til July). It appears in some states, yes, but not in Kansas. SSDI says I can have Medicare to go with it in 2 years and they've set my review for 5 years as they don't expect me to be around for it...

  When they cleaned my PICC line last Thursday the nurse didn't get all the adhesive remover cleaned off my skin, then when the Medipore patch didn't want to stick she used a tape that wasn't Micropore and I've been itching ever since. Until yesterday I was just taking benadryl to sleep on, but it was so bad yesterday I started the Prednizone again. If my writing is disjointed or there are typos, please forgive me!

   I finished "Suite Francaise" and read all the notes that Irene Nemirovsky had laying out the chapters she didn't live to finish-the book is fantastic, and would have been even more so had she been around to finish it. Her letters, her husband's and the responses to them are included as well and make very poignant reading. I'll either start on "Gondal's Queen" (Emily Bronte) or one of the two Vita Sackville-West tomes I have on hand. I have 2 more of Nemirovsky's as well, but want to give the first one a bit of time "to stew" before I start another by her.

   I can't help but think of the story of "Shakespeare's sister" (if "the Bard" had a sister who wrote as well and prolifically as he, we would still have never heard of her because she would never have been published or her plays never performed because she was a woman) and wonder if Nemirovsky had been a man if the Germans would have been quite so quick to trundle her off to Auschwitz? 

  May the week each of you!



robin andrea said...

I'm glad to see a post here, alan. You have certainly had quite the time of it. Hope the rest of the health journey goes more smoothly. Spring is on the way! That will make things so much easier. Thinking of you and sending best wishes.

Anji said...

I hope that the weather is getting better for you. With all the medication you've been taking do you rattle when you move around?

Take care of yourself