Third treatment was today. And I'm sorry to say it was bad, reeeaal BAD! I woke up this morning feeling great, had the girls taken care of for the day, got all my favorite things packed (thank you, Alecia, the fruit plate was perfect for chemo snacking!), I was not dreading anything. I got there and Rosemary was my nurse again, we got to chatting while she hooked up all my poisons. The Benadryl hit me pretty hard. I could NOT be still. I had ice bags on my fingers and toes and I didn't want to move them. Oh, I haven't explained about the ice, have I? Okay, quick tangent -
I learned recently that this weekly regimen of Taxol can cause your nails to fall out as well as your hair. I know, gross! Actually, it causes the nail to separate from the skin and then it gets caught on stuff and rips off. I know, double gross!! Well, I read from another chemo patient's message board post that icing your fingers and toes during the infusion helps keep them from coming off. Apparently, the cold slows the blood flow to them and the Taxol going in doesn't affect them as much. Now, I'm thinking if you had cancer in your fingers or toes, icing would not be a smart thing. But seeing as my fingers and toes are healthy, I thought I'd give it a shot. I even considered wearing ice in a hat for my hair and a cold gel mask for my eyelashes and eyebrows! Maybe next time . . .
So for my second treatment last week, I brought frozen peas. They would stay cold longer than ice. When I got there and explained to Rosemary what my plans were, she said they have ice bags there she could get for me. Again, lap of luxury! So she put the peas in their freezer, which I left behind, of course! Today, when I went in, Rosemary winked and said she had some peas for me!
Anyway, back to today . . . there I am with ice bags on my toes and fingers trying not to squirm. Finally, I couldn't stand it and got up to take a tour of the bathrooms. They have three and I'd only visited one up until that point. So off I go, well, after unplugging my IV pump and pulling it along with me. Do you know how bad I want to skateboard on that thing?! It has 6 wheels!! Anyway, after visiting a couple new potties, I came back to my recliner and was able to watch TV a little. I just hoped the ice was on long enough for today.
When the Taxol finished, Rosemary came to start the other drug, Carboplatin (insert dramatic horror music here). I was feeling less jittery and lay back to relax for this last leg. But about halfway through, I started coughing. Now the radiation has made my throat hurt like a bugger. Swallowing has been torture if I don't basically puree the food with my teeth. It has been like the worst case of strep throat EVAH! I did figure out a certain way of swallowing tiny bits with my tongue pressed against the roof of my mouth, and it doesn't hurt as much. But this coughing was new, it was like a tickle that wouldn't go away. Rosemary found a lifesaver for me since sipping water wasn't helping. But it didn't help either.
By now my chest was hurting, I thought it was just the coughing. Then my nose completely stuffed up. That was when I wondered if I could be having an allergic reaction. The next part happened pretty quickly. My face and neck flushed and I got really hot. My neck and throat started feeling tight and I couldn't get a good breath. Rosemary took my vitals and saw that my blood pressure was low. She went to call the doctor and quickly came back and said she was stopping the meds.
I could barely talk, but I knew I needed to call someone in case I passed out. I called Jan who called Mom. Jan had the girls and I didn't want them to know what was going on, so Mom came down to the hospital. I also called John who left work and started driving home from the mountains.
In the meantime, Rosemary brought a steroid to counteract the reaction. I was starting to feel sick like I might vomit and my chest and head were killing me. I still was having trouble breathing, but I tried to stay calm and relax and let the steroid work. But I had the same feeling as when I hemorrhaged with Caroline's birth - total helplessness and being at the mercy of medical professionals. At least I was at a hospital! I want to mention here that I have an aunt who died from a reaction to the dye during a CT scan and of course, my mind went there. But I trusted Rosemary and I hadn't passed out yet. I just felt HORRIBLE!! Can I say that again, HORRRRIBLE!!!
But there is a happy ending, or else I wouldn't feel like writing this entry tonight. After the steroid, I began to feel a little better - breathing was easier and I wasn't nauseous anymore. Mom arrived and was able to drive me home. Rosemary told me it's common to have a reaction to Carboplatin when you take it again after initial treatment. And I read online tonight that reactions commonly occur during treatments 7-11. Essentially, I've had 9 treatments of Taxol/Carbo, 6 in '07 plus these 3. She said my body has just had enough and can't take it anymore. More than likely, Dr. S will switch me to another drug, Cisplatin, which is a sister drug to Carboplatin. But I've heard it has even worse side effects or else they would start with it - yay.
So it's been an eventful day. Thank you sooooo much to my sister, Jan, who kept the girls until John and I got ready to come get them. And to my mom who came to my rescue! I'm not sure I want to go to any more chemo treatments alone now, it's definitely no longer the "chemo spa", more like the "chemo nightmare"!! We'll see . . .
By the way, Lanie makes THE best chicken quesadillas and chocolate trifle, Beth makes THE best spaghetti casserole and caesar salad (you've actually started me on a caesar salad kick!), and Alecia makes THE best chicken in wine sauce (is that "coq au vin," Alecia? delicious!). At dinner the other night, Caroline said the blessing saying, "I'm sorry Mommy has cancer, but I'm glad we get all this food!" - mouths of babes!
Well, I'm going to try to go to bed now. I doubt I'll be sleeping much tonight with a double dose of steroids (they give you energy, and an appetite). At least I'm not raiding the fridge! Yet!!