So my second round of chemo comes with mixed reviews.
On a very positive note, I did not experience the extreme exhaustion that I did with the first round. The Sunday and Monday after round one it seemed like too much effort even to lay in bed. This time around I was an active participant in garage clean out day on Sunday and I was a productive member of the workforce on Monday.
On an equally negative note, I’m pretty sure that my hair is falling out, although it is not nearly as spectacular as I expected it to be. I imagined that it would leap off of my head en mass, maybe all at once under the pressure of the shower head or perhaps I would just wake up one morning with no hair. Instead, it seems to be taking its time, which is almost torturous and has left me torn between buzzing it all off to get it over with and holding out as long as possible to see if I don’t end up losing that much. I’m sure I’ll keep you posted, as I know that the world is dying to know the fate of my hair.
In all seriousness, I am trying to hold out until Friday to shave my head because Chris is off travelling the world again and I prefer to have him do it for me. We’ll see if my hair cooperates. If not, I’ll have to call in a substitute to wield the clippers because I don’t think I can bring myself to shave my own head. Not so surprisingly, the realization that my hair is falling out is equally, or even more distressing than hearing about the diagnosis in the first place.
Gross but true: I have been Googling ‘ABVD hair loss’ like it is my job and nearly all of the other victims seem to be disgusted by the massive shedding that typically ensues after the second treatment. Now for the gross part – I think Duke and our blue shag rug shed enough each day that I can’t even notice my hair adding to their daily dust bunnies. [Kai, if you read this someday, please know that I do put forth a huge effort to keep the floor that you roll around on clean.]
In other exciting news, it turns out that I am not super human as was evidenced by my white blood cell count on Friday. I was surprised as well. Seriously, I was. I assumed that they would check it and be amazed that my white blood cell count was practically normal. I figured the whole team of nurses would be totally in awe of my abundant neutrophils, but that’s not exactly how things went down.
Part of this whole chemo deal is getting your white blood cells (WBC) checked once per week. Unfortunately, mine have been trending downward even more than expected. Most people have between 4,000 and 10,000 per cubic millimeter. Two and a half weeks ago when I went in for my first treatment mine were over 8,000. One and a half weeks ago, on my off week, I was down to 4,000. When I went in for treatment on Friday, I was more in the neighborhood of 2,000; low enough that the nurses told me that they were surprised that the doctor let me do my treatment.
The upside of my crazy low WBC count is that I’m getting plenty of extra attention. I even scored a Sunday afternoon appointment for a Neupogen injection. Neupogen is a drug that can be used to help boost WBC production and I am lucky enough to get four of them this week. [Have I mentioned that I’m not a fan of needles?] On Friday I get to go back and find out how it worked. In the meantime I’m pretty nervous about this daycare drop off/pick up thing. That place has to be crawling with germs just waiting to wreak havoc on my nonexistent immune system.
As you might have gathered by now, I have been spending a lot of time in this place labeled ‘Cancer Center’. It is still pretty strange to me to be hanging around with cancer patients. I guess I am technically one of them, but I don’t really identify with that group. After all, cancer is something that happens to old people, sick people, other people, I don’t know, just not me. So, instead of including myself in that category, I will continue to attend treatment at the cancer center and I will continue to feel bad for all of those unfortunate people who got dealt a bad hand, but I won’t feel bad for me because I’m not one of them. I just happen to stop in there like six times per week.
All in all, aside from the hair issue, I suppose that things are going pretty well. I’m impressed with myself that I did not have any down days and just generally delighted that I did not feel exhausted in the same way that I did after the first round.
An update on the ducks is coming soon!