Today was chemo day 2. Two infusions down, 6 to go. Chemo days are every other Thursday. They start at about 8 am. It starts with a blood test. Then I visit with my oncologist to discuss blood test results and health status. Then they start the infusion. During my infusion, I receive a visit from the oncology nutritionist to discuss my diet in the context of the chemo and of my fast.
Today’s blood test came out good. All my parameters were within normal range. This, I was told, was to be expected, since I am an otherwise a healthy individual, but it may not stay that way as treatment progresses. I have regained the 7 pounds I had lost during my 5-day fast 2 weeks ago. My symptoms have been few. Other than fatigue, the main symptom I had was mild sensitivity to cold in my finger tips. This is caused by the oxaliplatin, one of the chemo ingredients. The sensitivity lasted about a week. The oxaliplatin’s side effects can compound over the time and cause irreversible neuropathy, i.e. constant tingling and numbness in the fingers. The doctor will decrease or stop the oxaliplatin before the effects become irreversible. Another minor side effect, which I wasn’t prepared for and which caught me by surprise, was “first bite.” The first bite of any food (or first gulp of any liquid) causes a sharp pain in the back of the jaw, below the ear loves, where the parotid (saliva) glands are located. The pain subsides after a few bite. The “first bite” effect only lasted a 2-3 days.
The nutritionist was satisfied that my weight was the same as it was two weeks ago, even though I lost 7 pounds during my 5-day fast and regained them all during my 9 days of fattening up. She did however suggested that I start my fast 1 day later, to make it a 4-day fast, as a 5-day fast every other week for 4 months might be hard on me and my body.
In today’s chemo cocktail they first injected dexamethasone, a steroid. That’s a small IV drip. It prepares the body for the chemo assault. But one of its side effects is that it stimulates one’s appetite, which is unfortunate when one is trying to fast. Normally, when fasting, the feeling of hunger disappears on the 3rd day. But last time, it lasted the entire 5 days.
Then they injected oxaliplatin. That’s an IV drip that lasts 2 hours.
Then they injected leucovorin. That’s a quick but large syringe injection in the chemo port.
Then they injected a solid dose of 5-FU (fluorouracil). Another quick but large syringe injection.
Then they hooked me up to my little portable pump which will continue to infuse me with 5-FU for 48 more hours.
They are still holding off on the avastin, a vascular inhibitor, to allow my chemo port incision to heal completely.
It’s kind of weird to have all these poisons injected in me every other week. I have always paid so much attention to eating healthy.
Today went well. I was at the cancer center from 8 am to 2 pm. Six hours. The infusion itself lasted just over 2.5 hours. I felt no ill effects while it was taking place. Paul and Peter came over at different times to keep me company. My friend Iris, who works there, had reserved a private room for me, thinking it would be more comfortable. But private rooms have beds instead of recliners. And you’re alone in them. They make you feel like you’re in a hospital. I thanked Iris and told her that in future I’d rather be a room of 4, with recliners. There is more going on and it feels less like a hospital and more like we’re all just hanging out.
I’m going back this Saturday to have the pump disconnected.
And then I can eat again.