Round Two Recap

Much the same as Round One, really – much smoother on the wait times going in; not as good on the initial blood draw and set up of IV (the needle bent the first try – and while she used it for the blood draw, she wanted a new stick for the IV. On that one, she complained that my skin was ‘tough’). I avoided all the oral steroids this time (still got the ones in the drip) – and I crashed hard a little over halfway through the first day after chemo.

Which was also the afternoon I was due for my Neulasta shot and starting on the double blind trial for Claritin, and by the time I got to the hospital I was already in pretty rough shape – fever, chills, general body aches and fatigue with the last traces of steroids swirling about my cerebellum and turning things strange… o, I was looking and feeling my best when I showed up in the Chemo Lounge around 3:30 in the afternoon.

I was lucky enough to start with: I got right in and I got Pearl, she of the lovely accent and the smooth sweet hand with the needle; she had me warm the shot, and then she put it in, band-aid and I was good to go as far as she was concerned. Which was good by me, as I was shivering and sweating by that point, feeling as though I’d been stepped on hard, but I still had the Claritin trial to get through – nothing more than paperwork and the dispensing of medication (or placebo), and it couldn’t take long, they knew I was coming in, they knew it was the day after chemo, and it should be smooth as silk and done, and then I could go home and collapse.

I let the desk know I was waiting, and that I wasn’t doing well, sooner would be better, and huddled myself into a chair to wait. By the time I got the paperwork – some twenty plus minutes later – I had thrown at least two minor but loud hissy fits, and when the woman handing me the paperwork asked “where’s your happy face today?“, it was all I could do not to reply: “stabbing your happy face in the eye.Instead I bared my teeth and growled at her “Can I just fill out the paperwork?” She seemed a bit taken aback, and disappeared promptly back into the arcane corridors from which she had emerged, leaving me to it.

A minute later I was done – that tripe doesn’t take long –  and I once more notified the desk, hunched back into my chair, a perfect picture of misery, sweating and shivering and no doubt muttering under and over my breath. By this time it was 4:15, and as it neared 4:30, the waiting room was well deserted, the lights starting to shut down, people going off shift…

I watched the time click over on my cell phone, I had at least one more rant – I remember telling the world at large that this was bullshit, that they could have had everything waiting at the desk, that was stupid, I needed to go; I remember apologizing for my ranting, well aware it was OTT and utterly unable to stop it; I remember weeping at one point out of utter misery and self pity (just like the Beastly Baby and just about as well justified, I might add)… and at 4:30, I gave my paperwork back to the man behind the desk, told him I was withdrawing from the study, and I walked on out of there.

From there, I went home, curled myself under the covers despite the heat, sweaty and shivering, a wretched collapsed rag of humanity…. a rag, a bone, a hank of acrylic Republican hair (gracing the watering can in the next room). Morgan very sweetly came up and asked if there was anything I needed, and then biked out and picked up Claritin for me, and that was a godsend if ever there was.

I spent most of the next days in bed – today, Day 6,  was the first day I got out of the house. I did manage to get up, get dressed, and make my bed every day – once made, I  spent most of my time in it.

Wednesday I drank water; it was all I wanted. Thursday I started eating again; Friday I ate ‘normal’ meals; by Saturday I was up to watching TV; today I’m well on the mend. It was a harsh ride while it lasted though.

The Claritin helps immensely with the bone pain – just as glad I bagged the double blind trial and *know* I’m getting the real stuff – it reduces it to mostly hips and leg pain, with limited chest pain rather than the all over intense every-bloody-bone-in-my-body pain of last time. Oddly enough, the surgery sites also throb and ache during this stage – normally they’re quiet and well healed but during the chemo recovery stage I’m made very aware of them, particularly the breast excision site, but also the incision in my armpit. Claritin didn’t seem to help with that, or the earaches I’ve gotten both times,  but it did cut the immediate chemo flu symptoms, for which I was most grateful. I didn’t get hives this trip either, which may be down to the Claritin again.

I do have thrush, but that was probably starting before the second round – the oncology nurse had noted my tongue looked coated when I was in the comfy chair. I called that in on Thursday, got a scrip which Dot picked up for me, and having been swigging the foul stuff four times a day since. Eventually it should work – or I guess it could remain a problem throughout the ‘poison’ stage of treatment. And isn’t *that* a cheering thought!

The ‘water only’ fast was new – it wasn’t that I was nauseous, it was that was all I wanted in my system, even juice felt too much. I’m maintaining weight so far; as long as I am, I’m not going to worry about it. Strange craving for Jello on Thursday, too – I don’t even like the shit normally, but I may request some for after the next round. Definitely getting a ride for my Neulasta shot the next two times; that was getting ugly.

The reactions to chemo were swifter and more dramatic; my overall recovery time felt slower, and I felt generally weaker, especially as I didn’t have as much pain as last time. I was – and am, though less so now – acutely sensitive to smells. Dry cat food reeks; the entire back yard is perfumed by Karl’s lilies coming into bloom.

Hey, though – half done! It’s a doddle, really.

* honestly, the reason I didn’t? I was searching for the word “enucleation”, which I badly wanted to use as I wanted to make it clear that *that* was exactly what my happy face was going to do to the happy eyes on her condescending happy face with the pen she had happily just handed me – though the thought was complete, I just couldn’t think of the beautiful elegant way to put it. Really.

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