Monday, June 14, 2010

Infusion 7/12 - in the books

Kind of boring over here at the infusion center this morning so I thought I would blog about some new things we learned today that I will use to help get through the chemo.

First. got my PICC line retainer cleaned. This is done by the pros. If you screw this up, your PICC line can slip out and if you get some bugs into your vein, that can also be A Bad Thing. It's no big deal but you want someone with good manual dexterity and experience doing this. Here's a picture of what the PICC line looks like naked - just a plastic tube sticking out of my arm.

I did have a thought of ripping it out and running out of the building. "I'm breaking out! Enough of this sh_t! I can still probably outbike everyone in this room so I'm gonna take a flyer!" Of course, that's not a terribly mature thing to consider and because I've attained such levels of maturity over the last 13 weeks (right....), I refused the temptation to yank the line out. Plus, Susan would have probably tripped me and sat on my head until I came to my senses. Gotta love that wing-woman!!!

We had a nice session with a PA this morning and talked about some nutritional things I can do to help ease some of my GI woes. I'm going to start some probiotics that will help replace some of the good flora that should be in my intestine but are getting nuked by the antibiotics I'm on. We also talked about different types of beans - apparently some of the larger beans can get mushy in your gut and are harder to digest than smaller beans like legumes and peas. She also said that soy can be hard to digest so given that Susan has had some trouble with soy we'll probably minimize soy in my diet.

I've had a bit of tenderness under my armpits so I had her check those lymph nodes. Since they haven't shown up as being active on the PET scans, the thought is that these are sore from processing some of the backed-up lymphatic fluid from the nodes that have old (dead!) cancer cells in them.

And hey, if you want to talk about courage. Bringing that kind of thing up takes A LOT of courage. What if it's cancer manifesting itself in new nodes that is resistant to the chemo? What do we do then? Do I want to know the answer to that question? But if you don't say anything and it turns out to be something that kills you, you would feel like A Major Dumb-Ass on your deathbed thinking "if I had just said something, maybe this could have been fixed." So, I brought it out in the open and we're pretty sure it's not a sign of more malignancy. It's that kind of Shit that Rocks Your World. Heavy duty moments, to be sure.

Next, my weight. It's been a rock solid 186 with my clothes on, not varying more than 1/5 of a pound over 16 weeks. How weird is that? With all the strangeness going on in my GI tract and varying amounts of exercise, energy and chemo med levels, tumor growth, etc. it just seems totally bizarre to me that my weight would be that constant. I guess something inside of me really, really wants to weigh 186 lbs. So I've given up trying to eat more to keep my weight up. Just going to keep trying to eat healthy and keep things flowing through me ok.

More details - last time my blood pressure was up a bit but today it was super normal. Good news there. Would hate to get cured of cancer and then drop dead from some hyper-tension related event.

Blood chemisty news - things are starting to slide down again. Since I'm being optimistic today, I'll say that this is a great sign that the ABVD is really targeting rogue white cells (from which Hodgkins starts) and blasting them and some other WBCs are just suffering collateral damage. Hopefully the downward slide won't be too traumatic and I can avoid/postphone any more neutrogen. I'm at an ANC count of 1070 today. Below 1,000 is the general threshold of being at risk of infection, < 500 is pretty serious and I was at 360 when we decided to do the neutrogen

Next, I was talking about how exercise has been such a good part of my managing my treatment. Got a pointer to an interesting article in the NY Times (here) that talk about a potential genetic inclination to exercise. Interesting! So now I have an excuse to use when folks tell me I should mellow out a bit during my chemo treatment. I can't! It's not that I'm being a dumb-ass; this behavior is coded into my DNA. Yeah, I like that excuse...

Finally, I'm getting a bit of tingling in my fingers - peripheral neuropathy. This can happen to diabetics but can also be caused by chemo. I'm going to start taking something to battle that (alpha-lipoic acid). If left untreated, this can progress and you can lose feeling in your fingertips so it's definitely something to stay on top of.

But in general, things are still on track!

Ok, I'm done with infusion #7; time to catch up on some work. Another mini-milestone passed. Yeah!


  1. You are my hero for being so brave and optimistic through this whole journey. Although you have always been my hero. Keep up the good work and THANK YOU for taking care of yourself so that you can be around for another 30+ years!

  2. We're amazed that you're exercising so much and haven't lost weight - awesome! Tanya, Dave & I think about you periodically, George, and Susan, I really, really feel for you! (Never knew you'd become a medical technician in addition to every other expertise you have, huh?!)

    Glad to hear you're on the "downhill" portion of treatment - and you're responding so well!

    Sending best wishes, karma and that other Boulder stuff!

    Shirley, Dave & Tanya

  3. Shirley and Co: thx for the post! It always feels good to see these posts and know that people are thinking about me. I'm doing ok (I guess I'm doing "great" in the world of chemo but when you've been doing this for 104 days and counting it's not so easy to put "great" in your lexicon. I know you know what I'm talking about on this front!)

    You can see from my post tonight that I'm still keeping active although it's certainly a bit of a challenge. Down to 64 days to go if the current schedule holds so although the end's not around the corner I am definitely really happy to be > 1/2 way and see myself getting closer to the goal each day.

    I hope all you guys are doing well and look forward to bumping into you around town. Hopefully by the fall I will have grown back my hair, located my missing hematocrit and be over this part of my journey!