We’re just back this evening from a few days in Whitehorse. I’ve been really weak so I asked Jeff to drive me down, rather than me flying solo again. That way I’d get a ride to and from the hospital each time and wouldn’t have to take the bus or taxi. Also I could have a ride to pick up prescriptions and meals.
Hank came along this time too! It is a six hour drive down to Whitehorse, but Hank was great.
He was such a good dog. He very rarely barks, so he was a dream in the hotel room. We brought his crate and he slept quietly in it all night. But before bedtime, the middle half of the king bed was all his!
Check-up with my chemo doctor
On Tuesday morning, I had my check-up and blood lab work. I’m more anemic, my heart rate is too high, and this time my blood pressure was lower than I expected, something like 119 over 55. All of this explains why I’m so weak, and light headed. But all the values that mattered were ok enough for chemo dose #6 to proceed as expected the next day.
Other good news, is my tumor marker continues to drop. It is something called a CA125 blood test that can give a heads up if certain cancers are mucking about. The value is normal if the number is under 30. Before surgery, my CA125 was 350. Last fall it was 10. Now it is 5.9. YES!
All my recent ultrasounds and cat scan also are clear of any signs of cancer. I will be regularly monitored to make sure it stays that way!
Wednesday was my final chemo dose! I took another one of the selfies as they dosed me with all my pre-drugs, the dexamethasone, diphenhydramine, and ranitidine. I swear I thought I was smiling. I look like I had a stroke!
I was really sleepy this time, but one of those drugs makes my legs so grumpy, I had to twitch around every few seconds, so napping was just not possible.
Then it was chemo time. The chemo nurse thought it would only be appropriate if I did a true chemo selfie, one with each chemo drug. Paclitaxel on the left, Carboplatin on the right. She has to gown up and wear big rubber gloves to touch these chemo bags, but sense they were about to inside me, I got to use my bare fingers!
I felt extra drugged after this day of chemo, so I was glad Jeff was with me. He didn’t sit there for all those hours, but he popped in with lunch, and was there for the end.
I made sure I grabbed my favourite chair by the window, in the sunshine.
And Jeff sat beside me on the visitor’s bench.
PICC Line Removal
I was looking forward to having my PICC line removed, probably more than being finished chemo.
Remember was it looked like?
This was a really annoying thing to have sticking out of my arm for 6 weeks. But it was also a wonderful, wonderful thing to have on chemo days, because they could just plug me right in, no IVs!
I am sure it was just something easily tangible for me to focus my frustrations on, and I know 6 weeks is nothing compared to how long some of you have had your PICC lines for!
Jeff was also eager to have it pulled, mostly so he doesn’t have to hear me whine about it. Also, he was eager to photograph and video the entire “pulling of the PICC line” while I hid my eyes. Here it is with the plastic tagaderm dressing removed.
Here we go, unhooking it from its lock!
And if you are up for it, here’s a video of my nurse pulling it out! I had my eyes covered. She told me to take a deep breath in and hold it. I didn’t feel a THING! I didn’t think she had even started, but she already had pressure on the hole left behind. It was so easy! And it didn’t even bleed much, if anything! I left with just a bit of gauze taped on. Remember, it is super long because the tube went just about all the way to my heart, inside a main artery or vein or whatever that blood filled tube to the heart is called!
The chemo room team signed a card for me, which is so sweet. I love these people. I’ve never had better treatment anywhere ever.
I also got to bring home my quilt! Volunteers make quilts and donate them to the chemo room. I got to pick one on my first day, use it each time I was there, then bring it home with me after I completed my last chemo dose.
The ride home
We drove home today (Thursday). Whitehorse was having a bit of a snow storm so we tried to get our errands done quickly (groceries and dog food) before heading for home.
Hank doesn’t like to miss much, so while he has the entire back seat to himself, he watches out the front window most of the time.
I passed out for over an hour of the drive, and my loving, supportive, husband took a terrible picture of me in my huge coat with an open mouth.
The plan going forward
Today is chemo round #6, day 2. By tomorrow I’ll be feeling the nasty side effects and will take most of the next 3 weeks to work through the dose. Besides all the aches and pains and tingles in my feet and hands, a mouth that tastes like soap, and the incredible weakness ahead, my least favourite side effect is I lose my clear vision for 5-7 days. It is like wearing the wrong prescription glasses. I can’t read the tv. I can’t tell if it is snowing outside my windows or if it is just fog. Everything in the distance is blurry. It is a terrible feeling, scary maybe even, and then presto, in about a week from now, usually in the afternoon, suddenly I can read the words on the tv screen clearly. Just like that, poof!
So then, after the three weeks for this chemo cycle, I need to start getting my strength and energy back, and work on getting all my blood levels back to where they belong, and my heart back to a slower pace. I don’t know if there is actually anything I can do to speed any of the recovery up, other than rest and let my body do it for me, but I’ll do whatever I can to help speed it up. My doctor thinks it could take 6+ months. My brain is also a mushy sponge that can rarely find the right word, and sometimes talking is just too taxing because all of the words are jumbled and missing. Although typing is easier? My fumbly tingly fingers hit lots of wrong keys though, especially on my phone.
My Uncle Paul is coming to visit in March, so that should help distract me while I heal up! Hopefully by then I can walk a bit farther than now (which isn’t far).
Then, by early April, I hope to be back at work! That’s the plan anyway!
I also haven’t been home to see family since long before my cancer diagnosis. I missed my sister’s wedding last summer. I haven’t even met her husband (other than on video calls!). My Grandma is about to turn 96. I need to go home to visit. So once I’m stronger, maybe in May, I’m planning on travelling home to Ontario to see everyone, and let them love on me a bit. Hopefully by then I’ll have a bit of hair regrowth, ha!, but I’m sure they won’t mind me bald if I don’t.
That’s it for now! I’m off to take my first PICC line free bath before crawling into my comfortable bed. Ahhhhh life is good.