Last week was a fairly eventful week on all fronts. My husband, his sister and his niece all went for their chemo sessions.
For my husband the chemotherapy was significantly different from his first round with Cisplatin and he has not had the same severe nausea and vomiting (so far!). Not feeling great, the fatigue is significant, but it is not the nasty vomiting and consequently he has not needed hydration. His biggest issue has been the persistent pain in his shoulder/neck area – this is what has knocked him down this time. During his pre-treatment discussion with the Oncologist he identified this problem and the Oncologist reviewed his CT scan and shoulder x-ray stating that nothing really popped out to indicate an issue. However, he scheduled my husband for a bone scan which set for this coming Tuesday; hopefully we will find out what is happening in his shoulder and neck. The pain has become unbearable and he has had to increase his pain meds to the point where he is sleeping most of the day. His mind, when he is awake, is whirring away wondering if this is the cancer back and spreading. His one greatest fear is that it will spread to his brain. So Tuesday is the bone scan and by Wednesday or Thursday we will find out what is going on, if the pain is related to spread of the bone cancer, if it is neural in nature, if it is arthritis, whatever, he just needs to know.
My sister-in-law had her treatment on Wednesday. It seemed to go well, once they addressed her allergic reaction. She’d had her treatment in the chemo suite and had gone downstairs to wait for her ride home. While she was sitting in the lobby she noticed that her hands had gone quite red. A few minutes later a nurse, one that actually worked for her Oncologist, saw her sitting in the lobby and asked her how the first chemo went. My sister-in-law stated good, except I can’t believe how fast I developed the hand and foot syndrome associated with this chemo. The nurse looked at her hands, actually saw that my sister-in-law’s neck was turning bright red, and hustled her upstairs to address the allergic reaction she was having. After they pumped her full of meds and were satisfied she was okay, she left the hospital. She was still hooked up to her “baby bottle”, which kept the treatment going for another 48 hours. We saw her that evening and she was in good spirits, probably a little buzzed out by the meds to treat the reaction, but quite mobile and upbeat. Her son was coming up to stay overnight with her and all seemed well. The next day she was okay, had a bit of a headache and the baby bottle didn’t seem to be infusing the meds. There had been a kink in the line and once straightened out the meds started flowing. The fatigue hit by Friday as well as high blood pressure. She still is dealing with high blood pressure but looking forward to feeling better as the week progresses.
My niece has been flattened by the chemotherapy. Her treatment is aggressive, she knows she will have severe nausea, she knows she will lose her hair, and she thought she was prepared for the fatigue – but she wasn’t. What she could do previously without thinking about is now out of the question. Just doing a load of laundry is exhausting. She doesn’t live close by so we haven’t been able to see her. She’s phoned my sister-in-law on a regular basis and they are comparing their chemo experiences. Fortunately this often results in a bit of laughter as they try to rationalize what the hell is happening to them.
The road ahead for all of them is quite different but likely the physical trials will be similar. I have to say from my perspective, sometimes it feels like I am living someone else’s life and not mine, that is how different things have become.