After my diagnosis, my oncologists (which by the way, shout out to the Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland because they are awesome) wanted me to start chemo right away.
My expectations of chemo were as follows: lose your hair, probably puke, be really tired. Turns out, I REALLY underestimated chemo. Because honestly, THAT. SHIT. CRAY.
Here’s how it really happened….I already had a mediport implanted in my chest to administer all my IV lines and chemo. (Note: A mediport is a temporary device that is surgically implanted in the chest or arm to accept an IV during chemotherapy). It’s quite disgusting looking, I can’t lie. It looks like a bulging plastic disk under my skin, and it’s very noticeable…especially with my “battle wounds” which are the huge stretch-mark like bruises near my left boob and chest. Basically what I’m trying to have you picture is that…well…I look HOT.
On Friday December 28th, I had my first round of chemo. I’m on a cycle called AVBD. (Note: ABVD is a chemotherapy regimen used in the first-line treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma, supplanting the older MOPP protocol. It consists of concurrent treatment with the chemotherapy drugs:
Adriamycin (doxorubicin/hydroxydaunorubicin, the H in CHOP), which can cause heart problems
Bleomycin, which can cause respiratory problems
Dacarbazine (similar to procarbazine, the P in MOPP), which can cause skin problems.
Before they started they gave me a lot of anti-nausea drugs, and some anti-anxiety meds (Which for someone who never takes medicine or has tried a recreational drug in her life were AWESOME!!) Needless to say I was rather heavily sedated during my 6 hour chemo session. Towards the end, however, I developed what they call Rigor’s syndrome. It’s basically like these mini seizures. I was convulsing terribly and I had no control over it. 3 nurses held me down, and gave me a shot of “God only knows what but it sure as hell felt good”, and the weird contortions stopped. Needless to say, I did not expect THAT from chemo, nor the resulting muscle aches from the convulsions.
The next day, I actually felt great!…Ok great is stretching it. But I felt Good. I felt better than I had in quite some time! I thought dang, I can totes do this chemo!!!! NBD! I got this! WRONG. For the next 4 days, I could barely get out of bed due to massive headaches, could hardly make it to my anti-nausea pill bottles without losing my cookies, and generally felt MISERABLE. Capitol M. Not to mention an added symptom….terrible abdominal pain. From what my oncologists tell me, the cancer in my spleen and liver are starting to break up from the chemo, so it’s going to hurt. Some parts of my spleen are noticeably more pliable, where other spots I can feel rock hard lumps. Ugh.
Have you ever eaten at one of those Brazilian all-you-can-eat steakhouses, like Brasa or something?? Or the all-you-can-eat crab leg dinner special at Pickle Bills? OK well pretty much, that horribly full, I-think-I’m-going-to-burst-at-any-second feeling you get is what I feel like every day. I can barely drink water or Gatorade because I get so full, let alone any food, because of my GINORMOUS spleen. –Hence the weight loss. On top of that, a super cool side effect of chemo? Constipation. Yup. My husband always prides himself in a good poop, and I always found that absolutely disgusting, until NOW. So picture feeling as full as above, plus not pooping for days at a time. Totally comfortable.
I finally was discharged from the hospital on New Years Eve, after receiving some blood (I was anemic). Shout out to all those type A positive blood donors! Thanks for those 2 bags! Have you ever received blood before? Ok….well with a mediport at least, you can totally TASTE it. And knowing its not yours makes it even worse. Blech.
I got to spend New Years eve with my favorite people in the world—my husband, my son, and my FAKE FAM (SHOUT OUT!), even though I had to nap half way through the night. I’m finally feeling a little better, however if I move around too much, I still get fevers. Daily fevers. Having a fever every day is like someone hitting you in the face with a shovel every day. Literally. That’s what it feels like. I am lucky to get to spend time with Mack, and he is starting to understand that mommy is sick, and can’t really play like she used to. Sometimes he gets frustrated and mad about it, but hopefully that will pass soon. As much as I’d like to, I still can’t care for him on my own. I’m just too weak, and it’s hard to carry him around with my port. Not to mention, fevers are a symptom of Hodgkin’s Disease. I was told if my fever goes above 100.4 degrees, I have to go back to the hospital due to infection risk. So Derek is VERY STRICT about taking my temperature every few hours, and making me lay down while icing me down with frozen peas and hash browns when I get to 99 degrees. Anything to avoid the hospital again, right? Right.
(note: Derek rocks. He has been amazing. I guess this is part of that “sickness and health” vow we took. I guess I’m pretty glad I married him. He’ll do.)
So although I’m still having the fevers and stomach fullness/pain, I am finally starting to feel better, just in time for round two on January 11th! YESSSSS!!! So far I still have my hair, but I cut it really short to prepare for a buzz cut. Here’s hoping round two is a little easier than round one, and that my spleen gets smaller, because round one certainly was no joke. That shit was cray.