Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hence, hence, cancer hence away

The title is an opera reference, which I imagine at least three or four of you know. See below for the answer. As it happens my next CT scan is tomorrow, and Tuesday we meet with the oncologist to discuss the result. Needless to say, I'm hoping the cancer has indeed been banished to some distant land, but for now I'm just ready to celebrate the end of chemo. Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarty!

In fact it hasn't been all smooth since Friday's final infusion. The last two have been via peripheral injection, which they normally avoid for a reason. And sure enough, Sunday night my right forearm was swollen and red and we were both a bit worried, as infection in the vein is a possibility, and Wendy reminded me of the oncologist telling her way back when that "even a cold can be life-threatening" when the immune system is down. We should probably go to the emergency room, she says. What?! No way!! We'd miss Downton Abbey! And I'm certainly not going anywhere before finishing Karen's delicious apple pie!

So I called the on-call doctor at the med center, who, I was pleased to discover, didn't seem very concerned but was very helpful and directed me to the nearest 24-hr pharmacy where he would phone in an anti-biotic. At that point the race was on. I took off at once for a Walgreen's in Kirkland, and explained to the pharmacist that it was a serious emergency as I had to get back by 9 for Downton Abbey.  Luckily the two people working that shift were, god bless'em, the most efficient at their job I've ever encountered. I was back with 20 minutes to spare. There are priorities, after all.

The next day, to my surprise, the oncologist himself called to check up on me. It's probably not a bacterial infection, he says, just a reaction to the gemcitabine. But keep taking the anti-biotic as prescribed. Okay. Whatever. The moral here is that a lot of the information coming from medical staff is "worst-case scenario", and although of course they should make sure you know about that,  I have to keep reminding myself that a lot of what they say really doesn't apply to me. This isn't boasting; it's been demonstrated time and time again over the last four months. The oncologist, the clinic nurses, the infusion nurses---even they have told me "you tolerate the chemo extremely well".

In particular this business of the low white blood cell count has been grossly exaggerated, from my perspective. So I didn't think twice about seeing Kaia and Finley on Tuesday, because it's been way too long! I walked through the woods with Jessie to the preschool (adult conversation, a rarity) and then we all walked back.  And there is no better medicine than the wildly enthusiastic reception I got from my two little fans at the preschool. Even the teacher was taken aback, "my goodness!" she said as Kaia bounced over like a little kangaroo yelling grandpa! grandpa! and gave me a big hug, followed shortly by her brother.

Yesterday (Wednesday) though I was disappointed to still have the gross stomach feeling, the bad taste in the mouth etc. But today...well, I think I'm back! I drove Wendy to the eye surgeon for her second cataract operation (unbelievable how quick and simple these are nowadays). She hadn't been allowed to drink anything in the morning, so an emergency trip to a nearby Starbucks for tea was in order. On the way I suddenly got the most extraordinary craving for a sausage-egg-cheddar breakfast sandwich, and that, my friends, is a sure sign. I've also consumed a remarkable amount of Wendy's delicious chili, and consumed practically an entire pan of cornbread in one sitting (well, Wendy helped, but still...)  It should just get better and better from here.

I'm also looking forward to getting off all these meds. Have started cutting back the ondansetron today; should be off it completely by Monday or so. Then get rid of various other meds (the purpose of which need not be discussed here) and get back to being a human being! Yay!

Okay so the opera reference is to Handel's Semele, specifically a mezzo aria that begins "Hence, hence, Iris hence away..." Haven't studied the libretto yet but I think it does not bode well for Iris. It's nice for a change that the libretto is in English; Handel spent much time in England and this opera was first performed there. We see it here in a couple of weeks.

Good night to all; looks like more of this bizarre spring weather is on the way!

1 comment:

  1. No, actually Iris is fine. She and Juno are just rushing off on some mission (Juno in a jealous rage as usual.) It's poor Semele who doesn't fare so well...