I can't even begin to express enough how wonderful it has been to feel good again. Being terribly sick for months is grueling, and I was beginning to become very short sighted, like nothing in the world mattered except that I stop doing whatever was making me so sick. I have heard or read about people who just beg for the treatments to stop because they believe they can take no more. A good support system is often the key to helping someone get through chemo. It kind of reminds me of that scene in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince where Harry and Dumbledore are in the cave and Dumbledore instructs Harry to force him to drink the "drink of despair" that is in the basin where the horcrux is. He tells Harry to keep feeding it to him no matter how much he begs him to stop, and Harry does so all while speaking words of encouragement that soon it will be over.
So I got a nearly 2 month reprieve from treatments and my life went back to "normal". Not just normal, but an appreciate-every-day kind of normal, enjoying life like I used to. I was amazed when Ron, Sarah, Rayden and I went to Oak Creek that, even in a much higher altitude, I could go for a walk, pick black berries, ford streams and climb hills without becoming abnormally breathless. I marveled at how good it felt to take a deep breath without restriction and without coughing. We also got to go up to Utah to spend time with family and friends, and and once again I was so pleased to feel strong and healthy. Truly it has been as good for me mentally as it has been physically to just feel good again.
All that said, it would be an understatement to say that I was a bit apprehensive to begin treatments again. I was optimistic that it would not be so bad this time. I have read a lot about Taxol treatments and have found a number of articles that indicate that does dense treatments of Taxol are no more effective than the weekly, lower dose treatments. However the weekly treatments have fewer and less intense side effects. I am all for that. However, knowing how things went last time, I was a bit afraid of what was ahead.
On Monday I went to the new clinic. The were very nice and explained everything I needed to know. Once I was re-educated, I asked about pain and how much I should expect and consider normal. She told me that I shouldn't feel any pain. That always confuses me. The nurses and doctors seem unaware that Taxol can cause extreme pain, yet when I read online of people's personal experiences, they almost all mention pain like I experienced. So I continued to press the issue. (I am truly afraid of that kind of pain.) The nurse said she had never heard of much pain, outside of a little achiness, being associated with these treatments. When I talked to the doctor, she also told me no pain, but she said she would ask another clinic where they do the dose dense treatments. The other clinic confirmed that, yes indeed, dose dense treatments do produce more pain and that they give patients Vicodin to treat it. However, they seemed quite confident that there would be minimal pain for me, and they promised to monitor my treatment to be sure I had no reactions. I was reassured, but not convinced, but hopefully optimistic.
Well, they were right. It is typical for the first day or two after a treatment to feel pretty good. They give you pre-meds intended to prevent harsh reactions, (steroids, etc) and they usually give you energy for a day or two. So Monday I got sushi with Sarah after my treatment. I was a bit tired, but realized that my immunity would be soon compromised again and this was my opportunity to enjoy some sushi before I couldn't eat it for a while. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I felt pretty well but did have some shooting pains in my legs and some nausea. Friday was a little worse. Saturday less pain, a little nausea. WOW! That's it? Now that I can do!
The days start out pretty good and then symptoms get worse into the afternoon. The pain that I do have is kind of like when I have been cleaning all day and I finally
fall into bed to sleep, but can't sleep because my body aches from all
the work. The soles of my feet hurt quite a bit and I have shooting pains that can be briefly intense as well. The good thing is that it is no where near as intense or frequent as before.
It is my understanding that because I am receiving weekly treatments instead of bi-weekly, my immune system will not have time to recover and that the effects of the Taxol will be cumulative as more treatments are piled on. They say that by about the 4th or 5 treatment I could begin to feel significantly more symptoms, however, by that time I will be half way done. My hair should begin to fall out again in about 2 weeks, right now I alternate between a fuzzy head and freshly shaven. I love the way my fuzzy head feels and have to really concentrate on not rubbing it all the time, however I don't like the way it looks...so I shave it.
Tomorrow morning I will have treatment #2. I am optimistic that it will be OK. I take one day at a time now never knowing how the next day will be, but grateful for every day that I have that I don't feel miserable. Wouldn't it be nice if that kind of appreciation could last?