This was my first week following my second chemotherapy treatment. To say I was disheartened would be an understatement. My fatigue was debilitating. Let me start at the beginning because I now have 2 treatments to compare. Like the first – Saturday and Sunday were not a problem. Dr. Wilkinson adjusted the chemo so that I now get everything through a drip and an extra bag and a half of saline to go with it. It took 4 ½ hours for the process, but the extra hydration seemed to really make a difference to the disorientation, dizziness, and general malaise I felt the first time. Actually spent Saturday evening walking around downtown Raleigh with the kids.
Sunday still good – tired by the end of the day, but then the kids were around for most of it and I think I just got a little worn out. Monday we drove back to VA – took a couple of cat naps on the way back but felt ok. Just a little tired.
By Tuesday, the fatigue had kicked in. Fatigue so heavy it was an effort to get out of bed and walk to the living room couch. Unfortunately I had to do a feedback meeting with one of my clients. Ellen drove me in – we discussed turning the project over to her – and she ran the meeting. Left there for the hospital and my daily nuepogen shot than home.
Wednesday I had to meet with the new client. Very shaky, nauseous, heavy and tired. It is clear to me that trying to work the first week is almost impossible. I’m having difficulty maintaining focus and concentration. I’m out of breath going just a few steps, and I’m emotional and teary eyed. Managed to keep it together for the client, but the effort put me down for the rest of the day.
By Thursday, I was having difficulty swallowing again and the nurse told me I had thrush after looking down my throat with a flashlight. She called the Dr, and they sent me over to the office where I picked up a prescription for Nystatin. Also had blood work drawn. The PA Claudia shared the numbers with me – my white blood cells are all within normal range which means the neupogen is doing exactly what is supposed to do. My red blood cells are just below the low on the normal range which means I am slightly anemic. My bone marrow – platelets etc… are all within normal – again attributable to the Neupogen. I’ve got tomorrow off from the shot but will resume again on Saturday.
My hair started to fall out on Wednesday. By Thursday it was driving me crazy – my clothes are covered – it keeps sticking to my lip (which is coated in aquaflora due to blisters and bleeding) and I’ve decided its going to fall out anyway so time for a buzz cut.
We decided to make a celebration of it – Shannon came over to lend support, Tricia took the pictures and opened a bottle of wine for her and Shannon, and Ron manned the clippers. Once I was done, Ron gave the clippers to Shannon and had her buzz him as well. My favorite pic is the one of he and I on the couch with our two bald heads smiling for the camera. Actually posted the pics on facebook. Bye Bye vanity. Oh yeah and did I mention – head gets cold and is really sensitive to touch – hurt to lay on the pillow although once I was settled I didn’t move and that seemed to help.
On Saturday I decided it was time for a wig. I am going to continue to work with my clients and unfortunately in the consulting world credibility keeps you working. If the client perceived my illness they might be less inclined to engage me.
Tricia, Ron and I went to a place called Bravada in Fairfax. It’s a small house set up as a wig shop. I was surprised at the range of prices, styles, and how to tell good from bad. The more expensive wigs have a “scalp’ built in so that the hair can be parted in a number of ways and it looks like you are looking at a scalp on the part line. I found these wigs attractive but heavier and more structured on my head. The less expensive wig is woven onto a mesh headpiece. The part is less obvious and if you really look at it you can see the mesh. I found these wigs lighter and more comfortable and definitely more affordable. For my first wig, I went with the mesh, very similar to my own color and hairstyle. In fact it looks so much like my old style it is almost eerie. I was also amazed at the quality of the synthetic hair vs the real hair. I really had a hard time telling the difference.
The biggest surprise to all of us was a wig I tried on that was a beautiful light silver bob. If this is looking at my future – I’m going to look pretty good! It was one of the more expensive wigs and Ron really thought I should get it, but money is tight right now so I can wait. Actually I think it will be a lot of fun to expand my wig wardrobe and experiment with styles and colors – especially if bald is going to be here for awhile.
Like last time, Friday afternoon seemed to bring an improvement in my energy level. I got the day off from the shot as well. Not sure exactly whether the neupogen also impacts my energy level or whether that is the effects of the chemo, but none-the-less, the Friday seems to be the turning point.
Tried 2 new things this week- acupuncture with Judy – I really like her and feel like this is a woman who will end up being a very good friend. I also did a restorative yoga session with Michelle. During the session I realized how much I have self-compressed – probably a survival reflex – to draw myself in and protect myself. During the session I actually felt a reverse of it – sort of a flowering through my bones, joints and chest – an opening and releasing that felt wonderful. I saw her on Friday and felt completely different following that session.