So apparently my biggest chemo side effect is going to be this horrible black mood that overtakes me about the time I get home and lasts most of the week. I was not fit company for anyone last week, including myself, and sadly my kid and my mother bore the brunt. I stayed to myself as best I could, but that's not easy in a 1500-square-foot house where we're all practically on top of one another.
Thankfully, Mama took Liam home with her for the weekend, giving me three blissfully alone days. It was a godsend, just in time and just enough time for me to regroup and feel like myself again, and even miss him a little (a sure sign it's time for him to come home). I am so lucky to have a mother who lives close by so that she can come hang out with me, but I really don't handle having another person in my house all that well. It irritates the hell out of me that I'm not strong enough to take care of both Liam and myself without help (yeah, I know that's stupid), but I let her handle a lot of the Liam care so I can just rest. The second day after treatment seems to be the hardest day, in terms of both physical and mental fatigue, and on those days I tend to hole up in my room and not talk to anyone more than is absolutely necessary. After that I can slowly feel myself returning to what passes for normal around here these days, but it takes nearly a week to get there.
Chemo day itself is a relative breeze, if you don't count the getting up at o'dark-thirty part. The trip is not terribly difficult; we did encounter more traffic this time, but that's about all. Once I get to the infusion room and get settled in my assigned recliner, it's mainly just a matter of waiting. The only physically painful part is when the nurse accesses my port, and that's over very quickly. Then I wait for my blood work to come back, I wait for my antinausea meds to have a little time to work, and this time I waited for an infusion of calcium and magnesium that's supposed to help with the neuropathy in my hands. The oxialiplatin takes about an hour and a half; the Avastin takes about an hour. Then another infusion of the calc/mag, which takes about a half-hour, then the infusion pump for the 5FU is hooked up and I'm done and we're on the road home. It's a long day, but not particularly difficult.
I explained all this to Liam, who is having a tough time. I thought that maybe if he knew what my day was like, he could release a little of the worry, and I think it helped. His immediate reaction was "that sounds boring!" and he's right, which is fine; I'm not looking for excitement during chemo. And hearing that it doesn't hurt seemed to reassure him, too. But we have a ways to go before he's really okay.
Today we have our second appointment with the counselor, and I hope he will agree to talk to her one-on-one; last week he wouldn't. He was more forthcoming with her than I expected, but not as much as I had hoped. She's great with him though, and he says that he likes her, so I'm hopeful that she'll eventually be able to help him. This is all such uncharted territory and I feel very blessed to have so many people willing to help.
I have a little extra time between treatments this time. My doctor only sees patients on Thursdays, so instead of going for treatment on Monday and returning on Thursday, they set it up so that I will go in for my CT scan, see the doctor, then take my treatment all on Thursday. It will be a long day, but that's so much better than having to go twice in one week.
The CT scan will tell us how the spots on my liver are looking, and we'll discuss surgery then. Honestly, the thought of another surgery is a little daunting, as I'm still having pain in the incision from the last one, but if that's my best option for making sure that everything is gone, that's what I'll do. I feel fairly certain that the surgery won't be scheduled until after the next course of treatment (March 1st, 12th and 26th), but he may surprise me and go ahead and schedule it. And who knows? Miracles happen; the spots may be gone already!
Optimism is not my natural state; I am, after all, the daughter of a man who absolutely believed that "Murphy was an optimist." But I feel very optimistic and even hopeful about this whole thing. I truly believe that I'm going to be fine, and honestly, if bad moods and tingly hands are the worst I have to endure to get there, I'm in pretty good shape. Some of the larger lessons that I'm taking away from this I think I probably could have learned in little less dramatic fashion, but apparently the universe believes that I needed to be whacked upside the head.
I can handle it.