Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Transition - No Pithy Phrase Is Moving

So a couple of years ago I started a blog on Wordpress for writing, because Wordpress has more up to date functionality and is in many ways easier to use.

I intended to use that one for "professional" writing things and this one for personal, but in the last two years I've discovered a couple of things.

1) I don't do well at "professional" website ends up way too generic and I feel like it's boring, therefore it's probably pretty boring to read. Gross. No.

2) I'm too old and busy to hide the freak flag. Fuck that.

I exported all of THIS blog this afternoon and uploaded it to my other one, which will be quickly renamed No Pithy Phrase as well, but the address is way easier:

This is my last post on Blogger, so if you follow me here and want to keep up with my weirdo blog stuff, please come on over to the insanity at the new address. If you've had enough, hey, I totally get it and thanks for playing.

I'll likely leave this site as is for a while and I haven't deleted any of the content, just migrated it over.

Monday, March 09, 2020

The 1/2 Way Update: I might need Ripley to come to chemo.

Today I will have chemo infusion 8 of 16, which means I'll officially hit my 1/2 done mark at 4:30 or so.

Fun facts about Taxol/paclitaxil.

It was derived from the Pacific Yew tree in the late 60's/early 70's. Did you know yew is one of the trees that is universally fatally toxic? Yeah...even birds have to be careful not to swallow the seeds: the only non-toxic bit is the little jelly around seeds. Yep. I'm not kidding when I say I'm voluntarily poisoning myself every week.

Important note: the Pacific Yew is now endangered. Yes, directly because of cancer: it took a while for scientists to be able to synthesize the drug, and since it's the bark that's used to make Taxol and skinning a tree is pretty much as fatal as skinning anything else, I'm EXTREMELY aware of the sacrifices made to keep my cancerous ass alive. Or, cancerous boob, I suppose. Thankfully, it's now semi-synthesized.

Much of the negative response during infusion (oh, and I have some), is because it's essentially plant based histamine response. Two very important things to note from that sentence.

First, for all the anti-chemicals-in-anything folks who might read this: PLANT BASED ALL NATURAL DOESN'T MEAN IT'S GOOD FOR YOU. Hi, fatally poisonous plant without processing, and guess what? Still fatally poisonous. Taxol (like all chemo infusion drugs) is specifically measured out in doses based on my weight and health status, so it's a new personalized dose every time and monitored closely in case breaks/changes are needed. I'm all about natural remedies to support science, essential oils and stuff help mitigate some side effects. I wouldn't recommend chewing yew bard because it's "more natural" than Taxol...although I suppose that's a way to Darwin your way out of worrying about cancer anymore.

Second: I have hay fever already. So...I am pumped full of Benadryl and steroids before treatment (the Benadryl is part of the pre-treatment infusion bag of tricks, along with enough saline that I'm glad my IV has wheels for bathroom breaks). Unfortunately, MY during-infusion reaction is really intense sternum and hip bone pain, and low back muscle pain. SINCE WHEN IS ALLERGIC RESPONSE BONE AND MUSCLE PAIN? Luckily, it only lasts 8 minutes (last week Mom timed it, since she's a nurse and would be paying attention to those things) and it's not actually bad enough to stop or delay treatment. Honestly, I'd rather not stop or delay...even 8 more weeks is a long time to look at for me right now. I'm fucking tired.

I'm not joking you guys...the sternum pain gives me a serious "fuck, I really AM going to die an alien host" moment every week. (I considered adding an Aliens video here, but that's mean because it's a gross video and you're welcome.) Also I'm pretty glad that hasn't happened yet, because have you EVER seen a huge room of people with wheelie IV stands try to outrun anything? Ok, neither have I, but I can imagine it, and let me tell you that'd be a huge mess all around. Plus nobody has any energy in that room. I wonder if cancer and chemo is a transferable poison to aliens.

Anyway, that went off the rails a bit. I'm off to get my drugs in, and hope there's no secret sneaky creatures in my chest today.

8 more after today.

Updated because I put the damn date in instead of the actual is the 9th and I had my 8th infusion, which means I have 8 left. Good lord...I blame chemo brain. 

Monday, February 24, 2020

The End of the Red Devil and Other Random Events

A couple of weeks ago I had the last infusion of AC and last week I started my 12 weeks of Taxol. Doxorubicin (the A of the AC...don't ask me why, medical jargon makes zero sense to me most of the time) is the one often called the Red Devil, because it has dangerous side effects and has to be administered by the nurse directly into the port, vs through an IV drip. I'm thoroughly happy to be done with them: the last recovery period was longest so far (I wasn't well from Friday after chemo through Thursday the following week). 

But I had a week in between and I almost felt like a normal human for a bit! Took my little bald brainpan on holiday over Valentine's day to Duluth. I took pictures of the lake for the Banshee book, toured Glensheen for the first time (yes, I know...I grew up in Duluth and should've been there a lot over the years, but I never made it), had a margarita. The updates about the Banshee book will likely end up on my other blog, since it's writing related, but suffice to say I found an excellent book on the hauntings of Lake Superior, which included some Anishinaabe stories suspiciously close to dryads and mermaids. I am STOKED: I don't even have to explain in the novel why there are supernatural things living in/around the lake...they were already there. Mwahahaha. 

Yes, I'm a wild and exciting person.

Then I got ready for my last 3 months of chemo. So this stuff isn't supposed to be as bad: it's a lower dosage, the side effects don't generally include nausea, and over the next month or two I'm supposed to actually feel better as the AC effects wear off completely. Of course, Taxol has its own set of indignities. 

1) I have to take 5 steroid pills 12 hours before treatment, and 5 MORE 6 hours before, because there can be unpleasant side effects during infusion. If you don't know, that's a buttload of steroids. Turns out I have no problem sleeping with all those steroids overnight, but I may need to pull out my stupid scuba snorkel. Night sweats are no joke, and if THAT'S what hot flashes are like I might as well just invest in a swimming pool bed now. What the actual hell. Luckily I only have to do this on the night before/day of treatment. Last week my Nurse Practitioner at Oncology said I'm not allowed to have my IV outside in my underwear. Mean. 

On the other hand, I AM MOTIVATED this morning.

2) The nurses give you a big dose of Benadryl as one of the pre-infusion meds. Benadryl makes me sleepy. This is important: 

3) They also put a customer-service bell (the sort you'd see on a store counter) to hit if I start to feel any sort of weirdness during my IV drip. Remember how they gave me a big dose of knock-out-allergy-med first? So...hopefully if I'm asleep and my face swells up whomever is with me can hit the bell. 

4) Turns out muscle aches are the most painful side effect this time (well, so far). The rest of the neuropathy (tingling and numbness in hands/feet) is cumulative...I hope the muscle/joint aches aren't, because Thursday last week I couldn't really get out of bed or sleep well: too many evil chemo-trolls beating my legs with big sticks. 

5) Unfortunately, I continue to be a fucking weirdo with chemo. I felt mostly fine over the weekend, much better than I did the weekend after AC treatments, but Friday night while at a friend's for dinner I had some sort of weird pass-out-type episodes, the second of which had me waking up on their kitchen floor with upset people and dogs and a 911 call. Yeah. I made it to 42 before I had to be carried out of someone's house by paramedics and cops (good for them for not dropping my big ass) and take a ridiculously expensive ride in an ambulance. 100% do not recommend. Especially since the ER said all my tests are fine and they have no idea why it happened (and therefore, I have no way to know if it'll happen again). 

I'm fine now, there were a couple of warning signs I'm watching out for, and I have an appointment with Oncology before treatment today to find out if anything changes, but I'd like to say THIS WAS NOT ON THE GODDAMNED LIST OF SIDE EFFECTS. What the hell...somebody tell my brainpan that I'm supposed to follow the damn program like every other good little breast cancer patient. No more new bullshit: I have books to finish. 

It's awfully hot in here...can I do treatment in my underwear in the parking lot today?