Friday, January 6, 2012

Bah humbug

Last week's chemo blew chunks.

I had another allergic reaction. Kidney pain, shooting up and down my back. When this happens, there's no way you can sit or stand that feels even remotely comfortable. It feels like being in active labor. So then, pain meds, dilaudid again, which made me paranoid, sweaty, and nauseous. Strung-out. To keep the reaction manageable, they s-l-o-w-e-d d-o-w-n the rate of the the drip to an o-b-n-o-x-i-o-u-s t-r-i-c-k-l-e. What should have taken six hours ended up taking about 13. THIRTEEN HOURS IN A CHAIR.

AND. Because they were giving me the chemo drugs at such a slow rate, the clinic closed. LAST CALL! So I had to be admitted to the hospital to finish it up. Neil and I spent Thursday night on the oncology floor, just so I could receive all my chemo. Lacks a certain joie de vivre, that place.

I rang in the new year gagging and shuddering, hooked up to that stupid crap. Not feeling sorry for myself, more just annoyed and a little angry. Trying to be patient, but running out of patience. Reading Facebook posts from people proclaiming that this is going to be the best year ever! And let's booze it up, friends! And God bless 'em all, they SHOULD be happy. But so should I.

THEN. I received a call from my doctor telling me that for ALL future chemo appointments, I will report to the hospital for an overnight stay. DO NOT PASS GO. Because it just takes too long to complete it within the clinic's working hours. So, bi-weekly, overnight hospital stays in my future, from now til... June?

This is getting old.

Because we have brains and souls, I don't think we humans are particularly well suited for the cancer experience. We're too logical, and we have too many emotional chinks in our armor. Cancer takes all kinds of cheap shots, and it doesn't follow any rules. You have to be endlessly adaptive, constantly seeking out a hopeful perspective, or you'll go mad. So, regroup, and get up again.

I often feel like Cool Hand Luke in the famous boxing scene, where he's totally outmatched by that big bully but he keeps on taking more hits. I keep on getting back up again, and blindly, almost pathetically, I continue swinging my fists at the air.


  1. Hi Shelly -
    It's me, your blog-stalker from SF. Why are you still on FOLFOX if you're having all these adverse reactions to the oxaliplatin? FOLFIRI is the same thing except the oxal is switched out for CPT-11 (ironetican). Also, I just found 5 new tumors in my liver and have been put on Avastin + FOLFOX. Avastin is supposed to be most effective with new angiogenesis (which sounds like your situation). Sorry if you know all this stuff already - just felt like I couldn't NOT tell you in case you didn't. I'm sorry about the crap. Good luck with the next round.

  2. Hi Julia!
    So glad you wrote me again. You commented once, but I had lost track of you and couldn't remember where to find your comment in this long-winded blog I've been keeping. I love that you read this thing. I have no idea who is reading, so it's good to hear from people.

    I'm still on FOLFOX because as long as they administer it slowly, I can tolerate it, and it has shown to work for me in the past. I suppose if I continue to react, they'll switch me. I kind of hate the idea of switching because it makes me feel like that's one less tool I've got left in the arsenal. I'm sure you know what I mean by that. I am on Avastan and have been for a long time. Nosebleeds, high blood pressure... rock and roll! I'm SO sorry about your new liver spots. But hang in there--Folfox + Avastan really do work. Is this your first time on it? Keep in touch, ok?

  3. keep swinging your fists, baby. love you.


  4. Still with you, dear Shelly!

  5. Bah humbug is right! What a sucky start to the year! But I'm not superstitious, it's no sign for your year to come. Just one of those bad (well, ok, in your case *ridiculously* shitty) lows that come in between the good times.

    Buffalo is with you Shelly! I check your blog all the time (it's on my procrastination rounds) and love reading all about your life (cancer or not) and frequently send you love and positivity.


  6. shel, this does SUCK. ugh.
    i trust that you and neil can even find a way to make overnights at the hospital tolerable. but in the meantime, know that your swinging will sock cancer in the 'kisser--it did before and it will again.

  7. Ugh! I am so sorry. I hate 12 east not a fun place. The care there is wonderful and I know you will be in good hands.maybe I can visit you there though and help pass the time?

    My dad had "chemo cocktail parties" on 12. He would not partake but had a bunch of airline bottles and was a bartender for guests. The nurses had a good laugh. I think hank did too.

  8. UGH! "This is getting old" - no kidding! You do such a great job regrouping and re-energizing and know you will again (and again)! Sending you warm and healthy vibes for your scan! XO - Amy F

  9. Hi Shelly, I stumbled upon your blog while researching Ironetican which I'm now taking along with avastin. I'm on the Folfiri blend of chemo. My six month ct scan in December showed my rectal cancer had spread to my lungs. I, like you, was saying this is such a great way to start the new year! What the hell! So I brought the boxing gloves back out dusted them off and last week I had my first round of chemo with the avastin and ironetican. I was very fatigued and nauseous but for the most part handled it ok. I always feel crappy the day after i get unhooked from the 5FU pump. I will pray that your future treatments go smoother and that you make a complete recovery. Blessings from Illinois!