My Cancer Journey: Part 8: Cumulative Effects
Day 47 – Sunday
I was not well yesterday. My digestive issues (acid reflux and constipation) were the highlights of the day. The icing on the cake, was the lack of taste buds…but that is minor compared to the rest. I spend a lot of time resting…
This morning I was in a fair bit of pain from those digestive issues. However, I was happy for church where we witnessed the baptism of Nikola van de Kamp. Being a smaller congregation, we don’t get to see baptisms all that often, so it was certainly a blessing to take part in the van de Kamp’s joy, and to hear the Lord’s promises again that, “the blood and Spirit of Christ remove our sins just as water takes away dirt from the body.“
After the worship service, there was a coffee social and we stayed and chatted with many people.
After church, I was exhausted. But we were hosting thanksgiving dinner for my family…I was not much help to Teresa who did all the prep and clean up and cooked a turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, veggies, corn, stuffing and gravy. I slept through most of the prep.
Dinner was wonderful, and we had tons of leftovers. Then we had a nice visit with my mom and brother Chris.
Monday. On top of the digestive issues, I noticed that my peripheral neuropathy was returning. The tips of my left hand fingers have numbness and tingling, and the tips of my right thumb and index finger as well. In fact my left thumb is very sore.
I started the day by dropping the syrup on the floor and the bottle broke…sigh.
At lunch I dropped the mayo on the floor…sigh.
The neuropathy is caused by the Platinum based chemotherapy drug I am taking called cisPlatin. The following diagram is from a research article I pulled from the university database, which shows how a platinum based drug, in this case oxaliplatin, interacts with cancer cells (in this case colo-rectal cancer), and why it damages the nerve cells. It is fascinating.
We got home quite late, and it is a school night…off too bed!
Day 49 Concerned Medical Staff
Tuesday. I awoke with a mild cough and tinnitus, on top of the digestive issues and tingling fingers. I was hoping the heartburn would have been finished by today, but it doesn’t appear to be leaving any time soon…
The kids were dragging their heels after the late night, and we almost missed the school bus! After walking the kids to the bus stop, I still had to figure what time my treatment was. No one called me from the chemo room to confirm a time prior to the long weekend… and I totally forgot to check. Since it was so last minute, I didn’t have a ride lined up. So I drove myself to treatment. I know, I know…I shouldn’t have done that. If I have a reaction, I am in trouble…
During the weekly checkup, my nurse was quite concerned about my digestive problems and the cough which I had developed. She called my oncologist, Dr. Le, who prescribed Pantoprazole for my acid reflux. This drug is a proton pump inhibitor, which works to reduce the production of acid, rather than simply neutralize it. Hopefully it works. Dr. Le also ordered an x-ray of my lungs for the cough. The concern about my lungs is that I am on Bleomycin, and about 20% of patients on Bleo develop lung toxicity. So they are taking no chances with my little cough as it could develop into something serious.
This evening I went for a long walk to try and get things moving. I noticed on my walk that my fingers and toes were numb – peripheral neuropathy.
Day 49 Feeling Human Yet?
Wednesday. Today, time wise, we are halfway through the chemotherapy. But like Teresa wrote in her blog post, “I don’t want to celebrate.” Not yet. Not yet…there is so much still to do, and we are taking this a day at a time.
When I got up to walk the kids to the bus, I was so tired. Sleep did not come easily last night, since my tummy kept me awake, as did the intermittent tinnitus which would blare in my head like tiny fire bells going off and on all night long… .
The good news is that my acid reflux appears to be subsiding…finally.
But my gut is so bloated from the other issue. I have been eating so much fiber and drinking so much water to try and push this through. The good news is that after everyone left, I managed some relief. With the bloating gone, I slept until 1230 despite the tinnitus.
After I awoke, I took a bath and felt almost human for the first time in a week and half.
I had lunch, and just vegged on the couch until I picked the girls up from GEMS at the pumpkin patch.
For dinner Aunty Carol arranged a Pizza dinner all the way from Alberta! The kids loved it!
Day 50 Prayer from a Stranger!
So today, I felt pretty good. My acid reflux is under control, and everything seems to be moving through my system now. My tinnitus seems to have subsided for now, and I slept quite well for the first time in a week and a half.
I was feeling okay today, just a little numbness in the fingers, and we needed groceries, so I went to Superstore. But by the time I got to the checkout I was so tired I could barely think straight. That tends to be how it goes!
So I put up all the items and then the cashier looked at me and said…“You’re only a couple bucks from getting the 25000 bonus points…”
I sighed and said, “OK, I better do that.”
I texted Teresa and we decided that diapers were needed, we were down to only a few, and that would push us over to get the bonus.
So I left the cart and walked to the other side of the store to grab the diapers. By the time I got back to the checkout I could barely hold on to the diaper box, the neuropathy in my hands is pretty noticeable today, and my being tired did not help.
The cashier smiled at me and I mentioned that we needed diapers, so it was good thing she reminded me about the bonus points. We exchanged pleasantries and chatted a bit about kids and family…then she asked for my PC point cards to get the bonus. But I forgot that all my cards are in my wallet, and I only had my phone which has my bank card and driver’s licence. I apologized and said, “Its my chemo-brain, I forget everything. I am probably going to get home and realize I forgot to buy something else.”
She looks at me and smiles, then asks for my name. I say, “Ryan.”
And she bows her head and prays a short prayer right there. I was humbled and energized.
A lovely lady, a sister in Christ…whose name I already forget…sigh.
For dinner Krista sent a roast chicken, buns and a Caesar Salad home with our girls. It was all happily devoured.
Today was my best day since the hard week, so it was a good day to have some visitors.
This evening Andrew came over with baking (Thanks Grace), which we really appreciated! Phil and Sharon also came by for a visit, which was nice. Phil read Psalm 131
Day 51 A Good Day
So here it is, Friday, the end of another week. It is hard to believe that it has been 51 days since we started this journey in a terrifying way. We have 24 more days of chemo left, and then the recovery phase.
I just had breakfast — a smoothie and a bowl of raisin bran. My taste buds decided to visit today, hopefully they stick around for a while. My digestive issues appear to be mostly better. The ringing in my ears has become less frequent, and my fingers, well they are still numb and sore, but the feeling is back in my toes. It is difficult to do little things like button up a shirt or loosen a bottle cap. I can’t play guitar…but I can type. The cumulative effect of the chemo has also caught up to me, I am quite fatigued most of the time, or I run out of energy quickly – like at superstore yesterday. I also have chemo-brain which is like living in a constant fog. I forget things, and I often trail off as I forget what I was talking about. But overall it is manageable right now. Today is a good day.
I suspect I shall take a nap this afternoon…once the laundry is done of course.
Tonight we have a special treat for dinner. Alanna, who is a friend from WRCA and a sister in Christ, whom I have not seen in 20 years (except for Facebook of course), has arranged for us to have dinner this evening all the way from the US of A! I will post a pic of what we are doing for dinner on my next update. Here’s a hint…
It has been a difficult journey thus far, and we don’t know what the future holds. But we take it a day at a time, trusting in the Lord, and leaning on all of you who have supported us in so many ways.
We love you.
My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore. ~Psalm 131