Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Week *lucky* thirteen

Lotsa stuff this week.

I never did get back to my usual energy level last week. Over the weekend we were out and about, and I really started flagging at a point. I was just plain weary, so much so that I could have probably called in my blood test numbers without making my weekly visit to the oncology phlebotomist. I was pretty well sure the doc was going to follow through on her previous Neulasta recommendation when I saw her on Monday. And I was willing to listen.

Yesterday came, and while my numbers had improved, they weren't quite as good as they usually are at this point, so yes, the recommendation came in. She told me she'd leave it up to me, so I asked which implications were worse: the side effects from the neulasta or what could happen if I went without. Almost immediately, she said "without." Okay. I guess I can deal with some bone pain. And I won't have to delay my next (and LAST) chemo treatment, which was my biggest concern. There only has to be a 14 day delay, which fits right into my regular schedule. I agreed to do it, so she got me set up to get the shot 24 hours after my infusion.

I talked with the infusion nurse during my treatment yesterday, and she said most people only have the bone pain, and that's easily dealt with with Tylenol and Claritin. (Claritin? Oddly enough, yes.) Always candid, she told me not to freak out and think I'm having a heart attack if my sternum hurts. That, apparently, is one of the big marrow-producing bones, so it's affected by the Neulasta. Great.

Oddly enough, I seem to be a little extraordinary for having avoided neulasta for this long. The doc theorized that I must have "good marrow," and both the infusion nurse and the nurse who shot me up today were surprised I hadn't gotten a shot before.

So, we'll see what this does for me, besides making me ingest more pills. Over the next few days, I'll be popping prescription and OTC meds like crazy to manage the side effects of everything that's supposed to make me better. There's Zofran to keep the post-chemo nausea away, and Claritin and acetominophen to keep away the bone pain from the Neulasta. And, of course, the stool softener and laxative for the constipation from the Zofran and the chemo aftereffects. Go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall.

I can't wait till don't have to take anything but my usual vitamins. Sometime in the future...

The practice where I go for all of this is a huge medical campus - a mini-hospital of sorts, and I was there for most of the day yesterday. Fortunately, though, the morning was for something fun. A while back the nurse practitioner had told me about a workshop the American Cancer Society runs called "Look Great Feel Better." It covers a bunch of beauty tips geared toward women going through cancer treatment, like skin care, how to draw eyebrows on yourself if you lose 'em, wig and headcovering options, etc.

Oh, and they give you, absolutely free, makeup and skin care stuff worth about $200.

Makeup has never been a big deal for me, and I'm even less focused on it since I work from home, but I'm no stranger to the cosmetics counter for some foundation and nice lipstick. And it sounded like a fun couple of hours, so what the heck? I signed up. Then, a few weeks ago when I went to get my wig at the ACS office, the volunteer told me she would be the lead for the Look Good Feel Better session. I liked her, so I knew it would be fun.

And it was. There were seven or eight women involved, and everyone was into having a good time. It was pretty much like what you'd expect a Mary Kay group session to be like - people poking around the products, joking around about sucking at using some of them (I'm personally awful with eyeliner and avoid it like the plague), and the leader finding something to compliment about everyone's facial features. We shared a couple of war stories, but it was in the course of conversation, not as part of the program. And it was really nice to get positive feedback when I drew in my eyebrows. When I use makeup I'm not accustomed to, I often feel a little clownish, so it's nice to hear when it looks appropriate.

As for the makeup, it was a jumble of different brands - I guess they take whatever they can get from the donors - but we all pretty much got the same product groupings (lipstick, eyeshadow, moisturizer, concealer, powder, etc.). And they were really good brands, including Chanel, Elizabeth Arden, Estee Lauder, Smashbox and so forth. Some are sample size while others are full freight.
Not exactly worth getting cancer for, but a pretty nice gift, nonetheless
I had to laugh when I saw a small tube of Clinique moisturizer lurking in my bag, because back in my late 20s, I had so many of those containers from their bonus bags. My friends and I would trade news of where the latest Clinique bonus was being offered so we could buy the minimum it took to get the bonus bag, just to get the lipstick and mascara. Being young, we didn't need the moisturizer and considered airlifting our collections to needy women in arid countries. I probably still have some around. At the very least, I have the little makeup bags they came in.

But I at least feel as if I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. After this week, I'll have just five more weeks left. I'm handling things fairly decently and making my way through. The next couple of days should be pretty shitty, as usual, but I'm pretty well assured I'll manage my way through without any real problems.


  1. I forgot about this blog but just found it in my favorites. Free make-up is good, but losing your sense of humor is not. I can't imagine you without your sense of humor (or without eyebrows, actually). I'm so glad you're almost done. Good luck and congratulations on your extra duty marrow.