I am sorry that I have not been able to write anything for awhile, however, I did loose most of September from being in the hospital and although I am home now, I am still very weak physically and will take some time to build muscle and get my immune system working again. I have to be careful for the next couple of months not to expose myself to too many germs or I will get very sick as I don’t have a lot of resilience to fight things off.
About the middle of August I lost most of my hair. I still have these wispy pieces that need to be cut off so I wont look like some mad professor but for all intents and purposes I am bald now and wondering how long will it take to grow back?
In order to facilitate the next phase of treatment I booked a room at the Cancer Lodge near the hospital and the out patients unit called the BMT Day Care. I was advised that the Lodge had a nurse on staff and could help keep an eye on me as an out patient during the treatment. However, I found that they were not of much help at all and it turned out the only advantage was its convenient location near the hospital.
At the end of August I went in for the Hickman line catheter insertion, which went well. It is treated like a surgical procedure but they only use freezing in the areas they cut to insert the catheter. It really didn’t hurt and once the freezing was gone I didn’t feel the catheter inside me but the concept still bothers me as being very invasive and I was glad when it came out but that wasn’t for over a month. The removal involved just pulling the line out so it was simple and only hurt a little.
The next day, through the Hickman Line, I received the 8 hour treatment of chemotherapy. Melphalan. The following day, (I was already feeling the nausea), I received the stem cells back that had been collected earlier in the month.
I was required to go to the BMT Day Care every other day to be monitored and for symptom management. However, I immediately started to vomit every couple of hours and have diarrhea (caused by the Melphalan). All of this vomiting and diarrhea causes the body to loose fluids and become dehydrated. Along with the fluids the body looses a lot of essential nutrients including potassium and magnesium which is crucial for kidney function. I couldn`t possibly drink enough or keep down all the pills they wanted me to take to help control the symptoms, as a result, I became critical very quickly. They had to admit me to hospital and give me the meds through the Hickman. I still experienced about 10 days of vomiting and extreme diarrhea before the meds were able to slow it down and give me a break from the racking heaves. By this time the muscles in my entire mid section, front & back, were sore to the touch.
I can understand now. why they prefer the Hickman Line, as I wouldn’t have wanted to be poked for all the blood they were drawing or have IV’s for all the medications they were putting into me, all at one time. I also acquired a Walker during this time to help support me while I was walking and give me a place to sit when I became short of breath, because I became so weak I could hardly hold myself up.
Another week saw me recovering to the point where I no longer vomited at all, although I still had nausea and some diarrhea, I looked like I was on the way to recovery so they discharged me from hospital and I went back to the Cancer Lodge for a couple of days before I went home.
Everything seemed to be going along fine at first, although the nausea was still present, I was taking the pills and then after I was home for a couple of days, I vomited again. the next day I vomited three times and then it started again in earnest every couple of hours, the diarrhea, too! By the time I went back to BMT Day Care, I was in bad shape but they pumped me full of fluids and I felt OK, so I went home again, had a nice dinner and by ten that night started vomiting again.
By morning I could hardly move and had to beg a ride from my neighbour, ( for a 2 hour round trip on a Saturday), to the hospital and the BMT Day Care. I had already called the Day Care in advance and they just took one look at me and admitted me back to hospital. It took another couple of days to get the vomiting to stop and several more days to stop the diarrhea. This time they were not discharging me until all my symptoms were gone, including the nausea, so I spent another 2 weeks in hospital.
I had the Hickman line taken out last week. Finally. I hope that is an indication I am passed the worst of this chemotherapy treatment. I have some more Doctors appointments and blood work to get done this month. And if I have any say, I believe this is last of the chemotherapy treatment I will ever get. I will be looking into some alternative treatments in future.
So I am home now and feeling tired. I am still dealing with Neuropathy in my feet. I have a ways to go yet for recovery. As I said in the intro paragraph, I need to take some time now to rebuild my body and be careful of exposure to germs but I have survived and am getting better!