Yesterday was chemo #6. As usual, I went over all my symptoms from week 5 with the study nurse (Nurse J). We were both really happy with the week I had, as you’ve already read from the weekend. My main symptom was headaches but the weekend was great. I told her that I’ve really noticed my symptoms alternating good weeks (odd number treatments) and bad weeks (even number treatments). She said that another person on the study has told her the same thing recently so it’s not just me imagining things (or maybe we both are?). Anyway, if that lasts it gives me another tool to plan. Here is a rundown of my weekly symptoms:
CBC – My blood work this week surprised me a bit. I am feeling really good – my Pulse OX was 98% so she said it was no wonder I felt good. My numbers were lower than I expected though. They had gone down – not a ton, but lower than they’ve been other than the blood work after week 2, when I was at the consignment sale and had a really bad response (super nauseous, dizzy, trouble thinking and walking). Except for my WBC (white blood cells) and related levels (HGB, HCT) which were actually a little lower. My Abs. Neutrophils were not as low which is good since that helps fight infection, but with my WBC count going down, I need to be careful this week about sanitizing, etc. I’m hoping that these numbers dropping while I’m still feeling good isn’t a sign that they are going to really get bad but it is an even number week (6) so I’ve got that impending kind of feeling. Trying to keep telling myself not to borrow trouble. The only number that continues to rise is my Platelet count. Those are resilient little suckers.
Skin – I’ve still got the same little dry skin patches, they seem to be harder to control but at least I’m keeping them from getting worse with frequent applications of my healing elements balm. Unfortunately, I had another one join the group this week.
The port – over the past week, the skin over my port has gotten sensitive again. What I’ve come to think is that the area has finally fully healed. It started with some tightness of the catheter line going up to my collar bone. That seems to be gone now. The swelling appears to be all the way gone and now the raised dots on the port are very visible through my skin. The port seems to stick out more which I guess makes sense with no swelling. I think the sensitivity is my skin rubbing on clothing and whatnot that it doesn’t usually touch.
The stitch – Like the raised dots on my port, the stitch now sticks out from my skin visibly as well since there isn’t any swelling around it. Most of the time it doesn’t hurt – every once in a while Evelyn will grab it and it feels like a little sliver of glass in there still. But most of the time I don’t feel it. It is strange though because I can move it around in there and really feel the knot. I called the surgeon this morning and they want me to come in this afternoon so they can look at it so we’ll see what they think.
Pain – My shoulder pain has been good this week, but I’ve had a lot of headaches the past couple weeks. That’s become my main source of pain. They aren’t migraine type headaches, just normal. I take a lot of ibuprofen which controls them for a few hours at a time.
Mouth Sores – Happy to report that there is nothing to report.
Poop – Again, nothing to report (aren’t you happy!). I’m still taking a probiotic and have increased my dosing gradually from 35 Billion to 100 Billion with no reactions. The intestinal lining seems to be either all gone or staying intact at this point.
Hair/Scalp – I am really enjoying the buzzed hair – it still surprises me sometimes when I look in the mirror, but I definitely like it. I wear a little beanie to sleep and around the house and usually put a scarf on when I go out. My scalp is definitely less irritated without hair, and I can put the healing elements balm on it now. The crown of my head definitely seems to be the most irritated and I can feel the bald patches there. Overall, it’s doing pretty well and I have no regrets about buzzing it.
Nails – I am happy to report that the nail balm I’m using really seems to be helping. The nails were all pretty damaged at the tips before I started using it, the layers had started peeling from the tips. But behind that, the nails are looking really healthy so I think the balm has strengthened them a lot. I’ve been keeping them really short because they are so brittle at the tips and am just hoping to cut off all the damaged area and have the healthy nail grown out. The nurses were really impressed at how healthy the nails were beyond the damage.
Nose – I’m still using the Ayr nasal spray and a cold mist humidifier in the bedroom but am the issues continue. At least they appear not to be getting worse.
So overall, a good week. I actually spoke to my first person at chemo yesterday. It’s usually kind of a waiting room type environment where you may kind of smile at the person across from you, but there is very little talking. It was nice to meet someone else going through it all. I watched 50/50 recently and the chemo scene in that movie made me laugh hysterically. It made for a great movie, but sitting around eating pot cookies with the same group of people every week support-group style is SO not what chemo is like.