Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The descent

And NOT the fun,  rip a long mountain bike downhill kind of descent.

After a pretty much side effect free and feeling good Chemo infusion period,  the chickens are starting to come home to roost.   Ran with the Chemo Pump for the full 7 days,  with that timing out Monday AM.  Damn good to be rid of that thing attached to my arm.  Was starting to forget about it,  jumping up off the couch and the like,  then like a rowdy dog,  quickly coming to the end of my leash.  Getting that thing off is the first good milestone of the treatment process.

With no more need for the pump or any long-term infusions,  I also got to get rid of the PICC line.  Just as creepy as threading that thing INTO your chest,  removing it is pretty weird,  too.  As you can see below,  it is just a "Grab & Tug Firmly" kind of thing,  with a nice one hand coiling action on display as well.

PICC Line Removal from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

And yes,  you can feel it sliding out,  from about the shoulder down.  Nice.

Once I get rid of that,  and have a full load of Cyto-Toxins on board,  the waiting game begins.  Imagine KNOWING you will be hit by a truck any time,  but just not knowing EXACTLY when it will happen.  That is what happens with the Cladribine,  it takes a while for it to make you start feeling poorly.  PICC line & pump out on Monday,  still feeling good.  Blood work & a Doc visit on Tuesday.  Tuesday there was that "hmmmm.  do I feel the achy bones coming on?" thought in the morning.  At the Doc,  blood counts have plummeted,  as expected.  My White Blood Cell count went from ~5.4 to about ~1.7 over the week of treatment.  That drop is in reaction to killing ALL the Lymphocytes and Neutrophils in my blood,  both good & bad.  (The good ones grow back more & faster than the Mutant Cancer cells....)   My Neutrophils were down to 1.2K/uL,  just above the 1K "limit" where they start pumping you full of antibiotics to insure you do not get infected.

Thus,  they gave me what is basically EPO for the white blood cells (I know,  I know,  wrong kind...),  a drug called Neulasta.  Yet another Amgen drug,  described by the Chemo nurses as one of the "New Wonder Drugs" in the Leukemia pharmacology arsenal.   The intent is to boost production of the good lymphocytes and neutrophils,  keeping your immune system supplemented enough to not need to start the antibiotics,  or in most chemos,  stopping or delaying additional Chemo rounds.   For me,  it's more preventative.  This stuff has the side affect of generating "bone aches & pain",  same as the Cladribine.  OH,  and it happens to cost $10,000 dollars a dose.  (Guess it's still under patent...)  I am going thru the insurance dollars in a hot & heavy fury this time.  Thank god I HAVE insurance,  and good insurance at that.

Anyway,  it seems as if the Neulasta was the last drug I could tolerate,  as by the end of Tuesday,  I was on the Tylenol,  bones & Joints aching away,  and the nausea was peeking back in.  It all just got worse today.  Not sure if it is the real onset of what should be a solid week of ZERO fun,  or just the Neulasta.  We'll see soon enough.  Getting thru that will be the next milestone.  Had been able to even go ride easy for the last week at times.  That may well be over for now.  Oh well.

On a brighter note,  the media is no longer feeding like shark on the "Lance" debacle,  and coming up February 2,3 is the World Cyclocross Championships in Louisville  (no,  not the bowl of death but somewhere in Kentucky.   I am sure the Belgian contingent is excited to come visit us,  what with the "Lax gun laws & Methamphetamines".   Classic.

It will be streaming live for those who did not fly out to Loo-ie-ville and buy the $40 Tickets for the weekend.    I hope to have enough of a immune system to have some folks over to watch (Or even just to NOT be huddled in a ball whining like a little girl.  Yee ha,  here comes the fun stuff.

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