Monday, July 06, 2020

The Chemo Trough

We are six weeks into some chemo that I can't pronounce or even remember what it's called.  I just know it's miserable.  

I believe this is the seventh time Anne-Marie has done chemo.  Usually chemo is either once every three weeks (aka one week on, two weeks off) or every four weeks (one week on, three weeks off).  This time it's TWO weeks on, one week off.

The hardest part of the chemo cycle is the "trough".  That's where your immunity drops, your strength bottoms out and your stomach revolts.  During the typical three-week cycle, the trough is somewhere between days 9-15.  After that the body starts to recover, the bone marrow cells start to come back and bring white blood cells with them.

This chemo was going ok with some predictable nausea and an extreme amount of fatigue.  Then we hit day 17.  Anne-Marie's fever spiked to 102 (normal is 97 for her, so 102 is very high).  Pain, fatigue, weakness.  And coughing.  Intense coughing.  Of course it was on Saturday, so I called the on-call oncologist.  The doctor was one we'd never worked with before.  He told us we could try antibiotics and "cough pearls" or we could go to the ER.  We opted for the former.

Things got better over the next few days to be ready for the cycle to start again after day 21.  Anne-Marie's oncologist also sent her for a chest x-ray before the treatment to see what was going wrong.  The x-ray showed that there wasn't any horrible virus--which we all know we don't want--but rather that Anne-Marie's lungs are just have several tumors in them.  The tumors are irritating her lungs and the right one is filling with fluid as if she has pneumonia.  They are considering draining* it.

The second cycle started on June 16 and also went well until we hit last Friday, day 16.  Fever spiking then dropping.  Pain.  Shortness of breath.  Anne-Marie was coughing so hard she was seeing flashes.  It was a national holiday, so the on-call doctor ended up back on the line.  I think we found the trough.

Antibiotics are now back on the daily schedule as they attempt to fight the fake pneumonia.  I'm hoping this let us know where to look about 3 weeks from now.  

Quarterly scans are this week.  Results will be in on 7/13.  We appreciate your prayers and we appreciate the efforts of everyone that's doing their best to keep the other disease from spreading.  Your efforts make our lives, and the life of every high risk person, a little easier.

So every time you go to the doctor's office and make sure to wash your hands, or you choose keep your distance at the grocery store, or attend Eli's mandatory work meeting and decide to wear a mask in order to be considerate to others, know that it impacts your community.  I know that if you caught the virus, you would mostly likely be fine after a few weeks, but there's an entire segment of the population that you may not realize you're connected to.  Those people's lives touch someone who would face much tougher odds if they became infected.

We do not care about the political arguments.  We're just trying to do whatever we can to make sure our loved one is OK.

*You probably don't want to know.

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