Dealing With The Chemo

Yesterday, Marilyn and I walked the peaceful circuit of the Seattle Arboretum. In the balmy evening, we ventured into the northeast hills. We ate dinner at a Thai restaurant. Afterwards, we saw Tell No One, a taut, twisting French mystery playing at The Egyptian theater.

Courtyard at the Seattle Arboretum
Courtyard at the Seattle Arboretum

Then, the night: It began as pressure in my hips. I glanced at the clock: 12:25 am. I was giddy with the thought that the sensation came from the G-CSF. Was the drug working its magic so soon? The feeling spread: figuratively and literally. My semi-consciousness absorbed the information. I dreamt a mythic tale of Goddesses drawing the life force from disposable men. Ugh!

The long bones of my legs and arms groaned, not with pain, per se, but a sense of expansion: I felt as if I were enlarging. By 3:30 am, my sternum bloomed gently like an egg cracking. I noticed each individual rib, back and front. I realized they form a cage to protect us from both penetration and escape.

I chuckled at my innocent comment from the last update that pain due to G-CSF was a good thing. I sent ESP to my friends Christy and Janet to cease them from wishing more for me. If they had any connections with whoever’s in charge of administration, it would not be needed; the neupogen was doing just fine. Though I was not seriously hurting, the presentiment of long term, unforgiving pain joined the big queue of thoughts about cancer. Suddenly, I understood that in some instances, for some patients, clutching a narcotic might be all they have to make them brave.

With that grim thought, the possibility of further sleep sped away. I was wide-awake. I tiptoed to the kitchen for flaxseed crackers and a water bottle. I swallowed a low dose of oxycodone with this snack and sent good thoughts to my prescient Physician’s Assistant for the prescription. Returning to bed, I let the analgesic knit the seams of my discomfort and tuck my loose ends under the blanket of its sedative.

This morning at the clinic, the nurse schooled me. I’d gotten the science wrong. Or, at least misunderstood the sequence of events. I told her about my night. “Not the G-CSF,” she said. Evidently, the chemo chose last night to scour out my marrow with an abrasive brush. My WBC count showed a plummet.

Furthermore, my BP was low. The reason: I’d become dehydrated due to all the activity. She encouraged me to keep up the exercise but drink, drink, drink. She stuck my tummy fat with two more injections of neupogen. Before leaving I had to drink a liter of fluid and promise to drink three more liters Saturday. Only then would she let me go.

So, I get to laugh at myself a bit. My blood test revealed the truth of biology in contrast to the emotionalism of my imagination. Thankfully, others are watching me closely.


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