Thursday, June 25, 2009

EPOCH+R, recovering from round eight

My platelets were low again the week following my last chemotherapy treatment, but I had no bleeding or bruising: not even the minor issues I had after cycle seven. Also in the first week off the chemo, my hemoglobin dropped to 7.9. Below 8.0 is the normal cut-off for needing a blood transfusion. However, my oncologist had noted in my chart to not transfuse me unless I was symptomatic (which I wasn't), so I got away with no treatment.

Someone from my local blood bank left a message on my answering machine two weeks ago. I had called them and left a voicemail in December, canceling my appointment to donate blood and asking them not to call me: I had lymphoma. It was shortly after I was diagnosed; I was pretty upset. When I returned the call from two weeks ago, I got sent to voicemail. I'm not sure if they were calling to see how I was doing, or to ask me to give blood. Just to cover both bases, I told the voicemail that I was finished with chemotherapy and also that my hemoglobin had recently been 7.9.

The hot flashes had subsided somewhat the first two weeks after cycle eight (still multiple times every day and every night, but less often and less intense). This week, though, they came back at full strength. I've had some minor leg pain (a symptom of neuropathy) a few nights (including last night), but no bone pain, no tongue pain, and no hand-foot syndrome this time. I do have a new pain symptom: since about a week ago, both of my big toenails are tender if the end of my toe is pressed. Each nail also has a big red splotch in the middle of the nail bed. I'm not sure what this is called, but when I asked one of my oncology nurses about it, she said it's a common side effect of chemotherapy.

Recently, I've had trouble trying to sleep for more than a few hours at a time; not every night, but many nights I get to sleep rather easily, only to wake up a two or three hours later. Fall asleep again without a problem, but then wake up again an hour or two later. It's hard to tell how much of this is chemotherapy side effect, and how much is due to my crazy work schedule (three weeks of 3am to 11am, then two weeks of 5am to 1pm, and now they've laid off the night shift entirely so I started 6am to 2pm this week).

My hunger and thirst both came back to normal; I even tried eating some jalapeno potato chips last week, which I hadn't done for several months. It was somewhat painful, though; looks like I need to let my mouth heal for longer before trying more of the spicy foods I used to love.

My pants have been looser (although my weight is still the same); I think I've had water retention for several months that I just recently lost. This week, I'm trying reducing my Metamucil fiber cookies to Monday-Wednesday-Friday. So far, my intestines have not complained. My heartrate has consistently been in the 80s recently, which I find reassuring. I did a workout tape today, a tape that a month ago sent my heart rate up to 200: today it only went up to 170, a much more reasonable range for exercise. Interestingly, I was more out of breath today than I was with the higher heart rate: I'm guessing the faster rate, while hard on my heart, was more effective at delivering oxygen?

I feel like I'm recovering. It feels good.

1 comment:

Kirstin said...

Hurray! Glad to hear you're feeling a bit better. Your blog entries over the past few months have been humbling. Your positive attitude is inspiring.