Saturday, December 5, 2015

Side Effects

Sorry I've been a bit MIA lately... It's been a bit crazy around here! I've had chemo in Eugene 4 days a week for the last two weeks, so I feel like I've spent most of my time on the road, going back and forth everyday! (We've put 3,500 miles on my car in the last 2 months)

It's actually been almost a month since I've written a blog post, so let me give you a quick rundown: I've had both good and bad days, unfortunately, the bad days seems to stand out in my mind a little better. As you know, I'm in remission, so nothing that has gone wrong actually has anything to do with the cancer, it's all side effects of the chemo and the antibiotics/antibacterials/antifungals that I'm on to protect my body because of my lack of an immune system from the chemo. And boy have I experienced what side effects are all about. The antibiotic that I was on reacted with the tendons in my feet, so I spent over a week unable to walk or put any weight at all on my feet. Max carried me or I crawled literally everywhere during that time.

I was so inactive during that time, that when I finally could walk again I was in such bad shape that my pulse would hang around 140 after just walking across the doctors office which was a bit concerning. I had an echo to make sure my heart was working like it's supposed to, and everything looks good, but my pulse was still way too high a week later so now I have yet another pill in the stash (the stash has 8 pills in the morning, 6 at night) to slow my heart down because the doctor said "my heart shouldn't think that it's on mile 20 of a marathon unless that's what I'm actually doing." And I'm not doing that any time soon. However, that new wonderful drug has lowered my blood pressure and now I get light headed if I get up too fast.

There have also been issues with headaches from lumbar punctures (I had 3 of them since I last wrote, and 2 of them went really well) and nausea because I guess you can't exactly expect to feel great after 9 chemo infusions in 11 days. The nausea medication is quite effective, however, it has side effects as well (I don't wanna talk about it). And then there was the night after I got a chemo drug that is a derivative of mustard gas that gave me some pretty serious other side effects that I also don't want to talk about, but long story short I spent about 36 hours awake and I am very thankful that it was the first day I could walk on my own.

That accounts for about 20 mediocre to bad days, but if I've done the math correctly, that leaves about a week of good days! I was able to go to the lighthouse one day, and to the beach another day. There have also been some days where I have been able to get outside and enjoy the good weather, and other days where I have allowed myself to lay on the couch all day (who knew that could be so nice?!) I also have an awesome bird feeder right outside my window, so I have been honing my bird identification skills. I know that many of you are not surprised by that even a little bit- birds are far more entertaining than anything on TV during daylight hours, midweek. "A Guide to Field Identification: Birds of North America" has a permanent home on my coffee table.

Sorry that this post is 3/4 negative so far. I'm trying to be real with y'all. 

This Thursday was my last day of having chemo 4 days a week until the spring, which is very exciting. For the remainder of this phase I just have chemo once a week, and I will be finished with it the week before Christmas. Then we have to wait for my platelet and neutrophil counts to raise back up to a some-what normal level, which will hopefully take a little longer than a week so that I can have Christmas off (my own selfish wishes, because fortunately my body has been recovering very quickly, which is great, but that just means I get more chemo closer together). After Christmas I will start the 3rd (of 5) phase. It will be a different combination of chemo drugs, some of which I have already had and some that I haven't. I will also have (only) 2 lumbar punctures during that phase, and another bone marrow biopsy at the very end to reassess my remission. Each phase is 8 weeks, so that will probably happen in late February if all goes according to plan.

I'll be better about keeping the blog updated, I promise!


  1. McKenzie, I know we were not close in school but I can recall every moment we shared. You have an uncanning ability to Impact others. Your blogs ( even the ones from AK. ) still impact me from a far. My prayers are with you but more importantly I hope you know what an amazing gift your words have been in my life. I cannot express in words the degree of strength and courage you give me every day to "BE," to be so many things. Thank you for Being you and for allowing me to be a part of it.

    1. Thank you so much Kim! I hope you're doing well!

  2. Thanks for the keeps me from pestering The Deer Hunter ( Hood?, no...Fred Bear...Howard Hill...NO, I know...Ted Nugent..) too much. Great writing, and no, it didn't sound negative at all. "real" is good. Hang in there.

    1. Thanks Pat- Pester Ted Nugent all ya want!