I’m coming back to life again! Chemo round #4 has been … nice? Well maybe not nice but a bit better than expected.

While I was receiving my hours of chemo last week, they told me they reduced the strength of one of the two chemo drugs I get – carboplatin. This was a surprise. I didn’t know why, or who decided, or why they decided.

Me, tucked under my chemo quilt

The chemo nurse said most people don’t react well to hearing their drugs have been reduced, and instead want to go full on at the full dose. It’s true, my first reaction was definitely a bit of instant defeat. However, she said going full strength wasn’t the best for people, and they decided my bone marrow had already been hit hard enough and there was no reason to continue at that higher dose.

I’m suspecting it is because of that reduction, that I just haven’t had the debilitating bone pain in my legs and arms this time. I’m achy and sore, but I haven’t had to snack away on Tylenol 3’s like in my first 3 rounds. Even the numbness in my fingers and feet isn’t coming on as strong.

So back to chemo day, it really was much, much easier with the PICC line in my arm. The chemo nurse just wiped the end attachment nice and clean and screwed in the IV line. No needles, no heating pads, no hiding my eyes and bracing myself as they dig for a vein. No blown veins, no gauze and bandaids, no battle wounds.

I actually enjoy chemo day. That’s crazy, right? Imagine a bunch of people sitting around a circle, in comfortable chairs. People who have never met, but have an instant vibe. In the Yukon everyone is a character, so we chat away, sharing tall tales, laughs, tales of adventure, and asking about people and places we have in common.

One by one they dose us heavily with drugs. I get a good dose of a steroid and benedryl in my IV before chemo that is supposed to guard against allergic reactions to the chemo drugs. So one by one we slur our words and have to close our eyes for a bit, but the rest of the room keeps the fun going.

Heavily drugged

Not only is the company pleasant, the nurse and volunteers bring you food and drink right in your chair. I was tucked into my quilt for a bit and listened to a podcast for a few minutes while I was the most “slurry” 😀

I think I was still there about 6 hours, usually the longest of anyone in the room. Afterwards I took a bus back to my hotel room and settled in for one last night in town. Then, in the wee hours, the hotel had its third fire alarm of my stay.

They didn’t seem to care if we stood outside, or inside, and I was feeling pretty queasy, so I went back inside and found a comfy chair in the lobby to wait it out. I suspect the cold temperatures may have been part of the problem with the fire alarm that week. It was in the minus thirties Celcius in Whitehorse, and nothing works right in the cold – heck even the firemen took their sweet time investigating by the third time.

On Thursday morning I caught the flight back home and I don’t think I’ve left the house since (it’s Tuesday night now). I’ve been really weak and sleepy, but okay.

I’ve also been ravenous. The steroids for the chemo are said to be the reason for this. I’ve also been craving steak. Maybe that is because I found out my hemoglobin was low, and it is all in my head, but Jeff doesn’t mind indulging that craving and tonight he cooked us a feast of bbq’d steak, perogies, sour cream, and baked beans. Mmmmmmm. Feed me Seymour!

My biggest annoyance is this damn PICC line. I know I’m supposed to love this thing, as it makes it easy for blood draws and chemo, but it is the biggest f*cking pain in the ass. It hurts. Well not the line going into my arm, which doesn’t hurt unless I bump it, but all the attachments that are taped to my arm. And the stupid white mesh thing they said I needed to keep on it, that is a bit too tight, and so incredibly uncomfortable. It is like having plastic taped to your arm, and then strings tied too tight around your bicep. 24/7. I can’t get it wet. So I can’t shower and bathe on my own.

I’ve ordered a cover for it and a waterproof sleeve so I can shower. Until they arrive by mail, Jeff saran wraps my arm, using a bunch of packing tape to keep it in place, and then I sit in the tub and sob, not being able to bend that elbow to adequately wash myself. There is nothing as humbling as having someone else bathe you.

Once a week I’m supposed to go to the hospital to get the bandage changed and have the line flushed with saline solution, and then have some heparin left in the line to prevent clots. That day is tomorrow, so not only do I get to go outside and go for a short walk over there, but I hope they can find a way to rearrange it a bit to be more comfortable. It is driving me right up the wall.

So all is well. I’m probably going to stay home most of these chemo rounds. I’m just really fearful of catching any bug with my immune system so suppressed, and everyone seems to be sick this winter. I’m sure Hank will keep me company.

Here’s some more of Hank passing his day beside me in “his” arm chair.