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Surprise! You Have Cancer, Part 6

Things have gotten pretty routine since my last update on September 22nd, 2016.

This is how it goes:

Every other Wednesday I go in for my bi-weekly chemotherapy.
I arrive at 8AM, get checked in and wait my turn.

Once I am called into the Chemo room I get weighed, blood pressure checked and give a urine sample.
Once that's all taken care of I get into a comfortable recliner seat and my port is punctured for the rest of the procedure.

A saline solution bag is plugged into my dispenser tree rack.
We wait for the blood and urine sample results to make sure I am healthy enough to undergo another Chemo treatment.

Assuming everything is a go, I am given a bag of Benadryl, followed by a bag of anti-nausea medicine, followed by my first Chemo drug called Leucovorin Calcium, this is followed by my second Chemo drug called Oxaliplatin (more on this below), and finally I am given a bag of the last of the 3 Chemo drugs, called 5-FU or Fluorouracil. 5-FU is the more apt name for it in my opinion.

Yeah, well FU too.

After that bag (or sometimes a slow release syringe) of 5-FU I get a portable pump to wear for the next 48 hours. This pump has an additional dosage of 5-FU that gets slowly released over that time.
Finally if all goes well I get to go home at about 3:30 to 4PM.

While all this is going on you have a personal TV you can watch, or you can read a book or magazine. Sometimes you have a gabby person in the chair next to you, so you get to listen to their story. Sometimes they have a lot to say, and it's almost always pretty interesting. People open up to you when you are both in the same boat so to speak.

The fact is, really, the Benadryl makes me pretty gabby sometimes.
A couple of times I have been seated next to someone who is there for the first time. One lady was very distraught and would not talk at all. Next to her was another first timer who was very open to discussion and asked a lot of questions. I tried my best to answer any questions and to put as good of a positive spin as possible. I think in the process I was able calm the first lady down quite a bit. She was listening and did seem to get better.

Anyway, after my great escape I get to go home for 2 days. I am usually hyped up and do very little sleeping during this time. I am not really sick at this time, it's more of a fuzzy brained feeling.
On Friday I go in at about 2:30PM to get the pump taken off. It's a pretty straight forward procedure and usually takes about an hour and a half including admin and waiting time.

Then the fun begins.

By 10PM I start getting extremely tired and start sleeping and sleeping and sleeping. I can out sleep my dog, and that's a feat. For the next 4 or 5 days I am flat on my back for 20 hours a day. When I do get up it's like I have a really bad hangover, only it doesn't get better, it gets worse and worse until finally the exhaustion takes me back to bed. Sleep is good therapy.

I will gradually get better, more energy, less hangover, so that by day seven or so I can actually function. This is the following Wednesday, mid way between the last Chemo and the next Chemo. By Saturday I am feeling almost normal, with one BIG exception.

The Chemo drug Oxaliplatin, it has an awful side effect called neuropathy. This is an effect where you cannot stand to touch anything cold, or cool even. You can't pick up a cold drink, you certainly can't drink it. The effect is like getting a not so mild electrical shock if you do accidently come in contact with cold. But even when you are not exposed to cold there is a constant stinging, numbness feeling in your fingers, feet and toes, lips, and throat. I can best describe it as the feeling you have if your foot went to sleep and it's just waking up. Multiply that by 5. And it's a constant pain. It does gradually get better, almost disappearing at day 12. But, gotcha, you only have 2 days until it's time to start over again.

That has been my life for the last 3 1/2 months.

I will get my last Chemo treatment for this go around on November 30th, the pump will come off on December 2nd. Then I am free of the Chemo, for a while at least. I will undergo an MRI on December 20th to see what kind of results we have from the Chemotherapy. I am hoping for the best.

I do have one more complication. I have a hernia. It is a small lump about the size of two lemon halves side by side. It is from the colon operation. I am pretty sure it started the night of the gas pains after the operation. I think I probably burst the stitches at that time and it has just gotten worse since then. I am wearing a back saver type of vest to keep the hernia supported until I can get it operated on. It cannot be done while I am on the Chemo.

So that is where I am at right now, November 24, 2016 (Thanksgiving).

I want to thank my family and friends for helping me get this far along on this road to recovery. Without them I never would have made it.

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Living the good life in Southeast Alabama, father, grandfather, cancer survivor, part-time writer, and webmaster - Read More

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