When I last blogged I was beginning to feel a bit of "Biop-xiety" because I had a bone marrow biopsy coming up, and it went really well and it also went really terribly. I officially have no evidence of disease in my bone marrow (which is where leukemia originates) so obviously that's amazing. However with many types of cancers, when you get the good news of no evidence of disease, your doctor cheers and tells you that you can be done with chemo and that they will see you about every 6 months just to make sure you're still in the clear. ALL is a bit different, because people with this form of cancer are so prone to relapse. I am very fortunate that I have been able to achieve this sort of remission so quickly and effectively using solely chemotherapy (many people are required to either have a bone marrow or stem cell transplant in order to stay in remission) and hopefully that will continue to be the case, although I am finishing my intense chemo soon, possibly as early as April 18th. From there I will still have 2 weeks of radiation, and 2 years of lower doses of chemotherapy (bi-monthly lumbar punctures, monthly Vincristine injections, monthly steroids for 4 days in the pill form, and almost daily chemotherapy pills called Mercaptopurine)
That's all the good news about the bone marrow biopsy, but as for the actual procedure itself, things went terribly. [If you're squeamish, skip this paragraph] This was my 3rd biopsy, and by far the most painful procedure I've ever had (including multiple broken bones, 11 lumbar puctures, and many other crashes and accidents). The doctor who did it lucked out and picked a spot in my hip that was full of scar tissue because as luck would have it, he chose the exact spot that my last biopsy was at. He used a good amount of lidocaine, but 5 lidocaine shots don't feel great either and they sure don't help the pain of a needle going through your hip bone or into your bone marrow. I've learned my lesson when it comes to asking to see needles and test tubes of whatever comes out of me, but the needle felt exactly like he had gotten a good sized chain squeezed into my hip bone, and then he pulled it back out through a much too small hole. And this didn't just happen once, because he was unable to get what he needed the first two times. Once all was said and done, I was incredibly sore for about a week, and was still sensitive at the site for another week. My next one happens at the beginning of maintenance, so it's sort of already on my radar. I told Dr. Sharman how terribly this last one went though, and he plans to do my next one. He said he's only bent one needle during a bone marrow biopsy and it was on a retired lineman for the 49er's.
At the beginning of March I started my final 2 month round of intensive chemo, and visited my doctor up at OHSU for the first time since October. It went really well, they didn't really have much to tell me, and just answered any of my questions. They also discovered that my body likes my PICC line so much that over the course of the last few months it had sucked my PICC line like 3 centimeters further into my body than it needed to be, so it was tickling my heart. It was nice to get that taken care of, and that whole trip was very uneventful which is fantastic. During the first week I started a brand new chemo drug, and I also was taking a full week of a quite high steroid dose. It all started out fine and dandy through my trip to Portland, but by the weekend I had been on the steroid for almost the full week, and I was about to get another dose of the new chemo drug. Long story short, I hit a wall.
I don't think it was either of the drugs in particular, but rather the fact that my body has been pumped full of chemo drugs for just over 6 months at this point. I went into hibernation for almost 2 weeks. I had headaches and body aches of all different sorts, major fatigue, and a bit less than my usual positive attitude. I cried a few more tears than normal, and the pain from the headaches just absolutely wore me out. I knew that it was coming, and I was prepared to handle it, but it was rough. I finally crawled out of my hibernation in the middle of last week, but I'm still dealing with some headaches and fatigue that comes with the chemo drug. I also started another week of steroids on Monday, but this time I was prepared to deal with it: I deep cleaned the house, reorganized, got myself lined up with some healthy food choices, did some art, and started some pretty nifty crafts. So far, I'm handling it much better and haven't shown any real signs of "roid rage" yet and when I start getting restless I have about 10 unfinished projects to work on right now!
Now on to updates about the fun stuff!
I got my chickens on our way home from OHSU, they're growing like weeds, and yesterday one of them tried to fly the coop already, even though our coop isn't even built yet, so that's the plan for later this week. I thought I would have more time! They are so cute, and they absolutely love their daily worm search time (I bring them a bucket of good dirt and hide worms and potato bugs in it) and today they even got an extra adventure and got to spend some real life outdoor time in a laundry basket. I also have a bunch of raised beds ready to go, and already have turnips, carrots, radishes, peas, kale, swiss chard, cabbage, beets and spinach in the ground! It's starting to feel a lot like spring, especially since the sunshine finally came out! It makes it pretty easy to find joy everyday with all of these cool things going on in my backyard.
|A huge shoutout to the awesome little art workshop that Kim Pickell put on, |
it totally pulled me out of my funk and got me back to creating things!