Tuesday, 4 November 2014

A little bit Taxing

Last Tuesday I was due to have the first session of new chemo drugs - namely Docetaxel - or Tax as it's affectionately known. However, my blood test (I am sooo over needles right now) showed that my neutrophils were too low to have chemotherapy that week.

Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell and basically the levels in my blood hadn't recovered from the last cocktail of toxic drugs that had been blasted in to my body. If I had chemotherapy when the levels were so low and my body hasn't recovered, it could leave me extremely ill. So my chemotherapy sessions have all been put back by a week to give my body chance to recover from last time. No chemo last Tuesday. I never thought I'd be upset about not having another toxic cocktail pumped in to my veins but I was. Very. Not only does it mean that any plans I've made are all out of whack now - I have to plan any social and work activities around when I'm likely to feel ok and not be at risk of infection - it felt like a massive set back. Even though in the grand scheme of things, a weeks delay to one chemo session hardly seems like a big deal, it felt like one. My mood had been slipping since around the previous Thursday and I found Tuesday's set back incredibly difficult to deal with. I responded to the impending darkness by writing a blog post about the emotional effects of chemotherapy and cancer - something that is quite often skirted over and misunderstood. However, I'll save this one for another time - be warned - its not very cheerful reading..

Anyway, after a week of frenzied juicing of all things nutritious to try and get my white blood cell level back up, I went back to the hospital today with the hope of being able to be pumped full of toxic drugs. And yes hurrah - bloods all fine - give me those chemicals!! This time round I'd had to start an increased dose of steroids yesterday, continuing for three days. The main function of which is to try and avert any allergic reaction to the Tax. However, an undesirable affect of the steroids was total lack of sleep last night, resulting in a very tired me today.

I didn't have to see the oncologist this morning as I saw him last week - however I was disappointed about this when I realised it was the cute registrar on duty who reminds me a bit of Moss from the IT Crowd. Damn it.

As a result of not having to see the onc this morning, we were welcomed on to the chemo ward earlier than usual. I had the lovely Relentlessly Cheerful Chemo Nurse today as well, who has taken to calling me Bec (I love this woman.)

The oncologist last week gave the go ahead for my other arm to be used to administer the chemotherapy in to this week, to give my poor sore, collapsed veins in my other hand a rest. One of them has packed it's bags and is hiding nervously from impending cannulas as far under my skin as it can get.

Relentlessly Cheerful Chemo Nurse sat with me for ten minutes at the beginning of the administration of the Tax just in case my body decided to reject it and my tongue swelled up. Or something. Anyway all was fine and mercifully it only took an hour for the bag of loveliness (or not) to work its way in to my veins. A refreshing change from FEC, which took more than two hours and left me with pink wee.

One Tax down - two more to go!

So far Tax has left me feeling a little less poisoned than FEC normally does the evening of the dose. However, apparently with Tax, side effects can kick in 3-4 days after administration. These can include muscle and bone pain, more hair loss, sore nails and an icky mouth. I'll look forward to that then..

Because my white blood cell levels were so low last time, I'm now going to be given a round of granulocyte colony stimulating factor (or GCSF) injections during each cycle. These will basically simulate my bone marrow to produce more white blood cells, bringing with them more possible bone pain. Delightful. And the best part is that I have to administer these to myself - injecting them in to my stomach. Yes - this will be my breakfast for the next seven days.

But all is not lost - I get a sexy little travel bag including a little sharps bin and thermometer to go with them!

Right, enough of the Taxing talk for today. I'm now off to do some more steroid induced frantic house cleaning or juicing...or something. Anything other than sleep most likely!

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