I finished my last “red devil” treatment today. It was not without incident.
While having my labs drawn, my port wouldn’t work. Needle in, nothing out. Turns out, the end of the port was clogged. It’s fairly common – platelets clog the end of the port, forming a mesh-like cover and making it difficult (or impossible) for anything to pass. The techs and nurses were able to push saline into the line, but they couldn’t get anything to come to back out.
The solution: a medication that the nurses compared to Drano. It basically “eats” away at whatever is clogging the end of the line. It took an hour, but the medicine worked, and the port works better than ever. It’s so crazy to think a toxic “Drano”-like substance along with the “red devil” were injected into my body today. My blood is a pretty toxic cocktail.
My lab work today revealed that I’m anemic. It explains the fatigue I’ve been experiencing this week (what should have been my “good” week). I’m planning a week of red meat and iron-rich foods in the coming days.
Next week is an off-week. I’ll have labs on Friday and an ultrasound to see how the masses have changed. Honestly, I can’t even feel them anymore. The doc couldn’t even FIND them during the exam today. Then following week starts “normal” chemo.
So after the first phase of chemo:
– I still have hair – well, hair on my head (and brows and lashes are intact). I’ve lost all the hair on my legs, underarms and bikini area. (Better than laser therapy or waxing!) But my head still holds onto the little spiky hairs, except for an area above both ears on the sides (think where infants lose their hair). The kids are convinced that it’s growing out. I’m not sure it’s GROWING, but it’s sure not gone like I was told it would be at this point.
– I’m still having regular periods completely on schedule, which confuses the docs. Apparently, I shouldn’t be menstruating, and menopause should be kicking in. I have hot flashes and night sweats, but really no other menopausal symptoms. I have super hormones!
– My skin is crazy dry. I’m using a ton of lotion, but nothing helps. My skin is also getting SUPER sensitive – like the seams of pajama pants HURT. I remember when I was shopping for scarves and the two women were offering advice. They laughed and said something like, “You’ll become very aware of seams and where they are.” I thought that was kinda crazy, but it’s true, and it’s REALLY uncomfortable.
– The masks offered in doc offices for people who have colds? Yeah, apparently there’s latex in them. I wore one when I came in for fluids last week, and now my face (the part that was under the mask) is covered in a red, flaky rash – the same reaction I get from latex. It’s itchy and somewhat painful, and I just have to wait it out to get better. Fingers crossed that’s soon because it’s my face.
It feels good to be done with this first phase of chemo. I really don’t know what to expect for the next 12 weeks, other than being told it’s “easier.” Whatever that means.