May 2009


Chemo was Tuesday. For the first time, no delays and we were out in record time. Our appt. with Dr B was at 8, followed by chemo, and we on our way home by 1:30. We stopped for a much needed and tasty lunch.

When we got home I was restless and didn’t rest like I should have. I am paying the price. I am tired, weak and a bit achy. My taste buds are off and my tongue feels sore and a bit swollen (as usual). But it’s nothing serious and should soon pass.

My next CT will be in about 3 weeks. As long as Taxotere continues to work and the side effects remain minimal, I expect to stay on it. I haven’t asked how long that normally is. But, Dr. B has assured me she is always planning a few steps ahead.

Wednesday I had a bronchoscopy. This involves examining my airway with a scope. The reason was to confirm and evaluate the suspected lesion that was related to the clot. This time I was well medicated and went through the entire process smoothly. As hard as it was for both of us, Ken could not be there. He was in New Jersey. But, Dr B felt it had to be done right away.

My sister Kathy took me to the appointment at UCSD in Hillcrest arriving at about 10:30. Like with most of the days Ken and I go to my appointments, it involved a lot of waiting. It was a lot more than expected since I’d been fit into their schedule on very short notice. The wait was 3 hours to begin the procedure. Afterwards, still groggy on drugs, Kathy drove me to the cancer center for my post-chemo injection. It was after 5 when we headed back toward home. Kathy missed an appointment of her own. And because we did not anticipate how much time was needed and did not pre-pay enough, we got a parking ticket ¬†at UCSD Hillcrest. Kathy offered to try fight it. I don’t know how she made out.

The lesion was confirmed. It was small but deep and was formed as chemo killed cancer cells opening up the wound. There was debate over whether or not to go back in to seal it up as best as possible. My clotting rate was evaluated again. Eventually, the decision was to wait – provided the clot did not break off again. My follow-up procedure was postponed indefinitely. Yeah!

Other than routine exams, I get a break until Tuesday the 26th when my next chemo is scheduled. In the meantime… there was lots of catching up to do at work and long hours. By the time I get home each night I have very little energy left.

Wednesday I got stuck in a huge traffic jam. Instead of the normal 40-45 minutes, it took me about 2 hours to get home that evening. Ken is so patient as I rest. Sometimes it helps to get off my feet for several minutes. Often I eventually fall asleep on the couch after dinner. Sometimes, like Wednesday, I surrender earlier and Ken tucks me in. He has many evenings alone reading and working on his emails. He often stays up later than he intends to and doesn’t get enough sleep.

My CT results were great – better than expected. The newer tumors have been reduced by about 50%. The primary one (and its newer “satellite” one) show lots of deterioration. They look like shells with the guts missing. The adjacent lymph node is swollen. But it’s only one. The others looked normal. It’s likely drainage of the dead cancer cells – a very good thing.

My blood counts were high enough to qualify me for chemo today as scheduled. It only ran about an a hour late. But that’s pretty good. It’s very good considering the nurses are now working with a new computer program and have a lot more entries to make.

There is something that might help my nail problems. The Taxotere (chemo) can make finger and toe nails swell and sometimes fall off. It’s called “clubbing” and can be caused by other things, too.

I’m having trouble with just one of my thumbs so far. The treatment involves wearing mittens lined with something like gel-pack or beads that hold cold (when frozen). Wearing them during the infusion can help. There have been clinical trials showing it’s effectiveness. I just have to see if I can get a pair and store them in the freezer at the infusion center while I wait for chemo. I have a few weeks to work on it. They make them for feet, too… if it comes to that.

The only bad news is I’ll going through another bronchoscopy… and soon. I coughed a blood clot yesterday. It may indicate a blood vessel in one of my bronchia has ruptured and may do so again. This can happen as cancer cells adjacent or attached to a vessel are damaged. It can be remedied, sealing it up using a laser. I am dreading the procedure. The last one was truly torture. Just discussing it with Dr B today brought me to tears. I hope to have the procedure done differently and with some sedatives. Sadly, Ken won’t be there to go to battle for me. He’s traveling for work. I will be prepared to walk out if need be and try the another pulmonologist.

Our friend, Steve, stepped in and spent the tedious day with me, picking me up at 8 and getting me home at about 5. We had a late lunch at Island’s before heading back to Ramona. Steve had just returned the evening before from a trip to the east coast. So in addition to having things to catch up on at home, he was suffering from jet lag.

I’ve been enjoying the break from chemo. It’s great having three weeks off between treatments. The side effects have been manageable. The typical nausea, fatigue, and funky taste buds which lessen each day. My fingertips have been extremely tender, but are also getting better.

Today I had my CT scan. Now comes the long wait for the results on Tuesday. That’s when I have my next appointment with Dr B and am scheduled for my next chemo.