6.24.2013

The Scale is Never My Friend

Last year, I found out that running + nursing was not the magical reason I was seeing numbers on the scale I hadn't seen since middle school. I was planning on doing both forever to score the digits I was starting to see as I stuffed the kid's snacks and scraps in like a famine was coming. Little did I know that those combined activities weren't the magic calorie burners I thought they were.

That tumor, plus some major post-operative bed rest sent my weight plummeting to numbers I don't think I'd seen since the 7th grade. I even found myself wearing shorts in a size and length you should only see on a 7th grader. By the time I started treatment, I was rather underweight. Fortunately it was winter, and I was able to hide a lot of it under coats and sweatshirts and puffy snow bunny vest until I could start packing some pounds back on.

By the end of treatment, I was at a nice, 20-something year old weight and looked normal. Because in my mind, I am still a 20-something -- 24 to be exact.

I started treatment this time at pretty much the same weight, knowing I'd lose a few over the days I laid in bed. But as last time, I expected to rebound and get back to eating and working out after a few days. I didn't know I'd be knocked down so hard this time around. How much sicker could chemo possibly make me compared to last time?

I'd read on various message boards that people didn't get as sick with this treatment (FOLFURI) verse the last treatment (FOLFOX), and I'd have to agree. Though I am in bed, battling nausea and naps for several days, I'm not spooning my yellow puke bucket like last time. In fact, I don't think I've even touched the bowl I stuck in the night stand on the night before my first round. With that said, I still battle chronic nausea that is far more chronic indeed.

Though I'm not as intensely sick, I'm generally sick for a longer period of time. For 9 out of every 14 days, I have zero desire for anything espresso related I'm dependent on my nausea pills (and that pointless fake marijuana) to make it through each day and give myself a remote chance of functioning, eating and leaving the house. I've consistently lost 2 pounds with every round and I've not gained it back. As with last time, the minute I feel like it's going to stop coming out one end, it starts coming out the other. Sorry to make you cringe, but it happens to the best of us every now and then. And in Chemoland, it just happens a lot more often.

Though I wouldn't describe it as severe or debilitating to my lifestyle, it's still a little surprise that likes to show up without calling first. And it usually waits until I've gotten some of my appetite back and am actually eating enough to gain a pound. I get very defeated when I think I'm finally putting enough in, only to see it all drain out.

With this next round of treatment, I know my weight will officially drop me into "underweight" on that outdated BMI chart. Just as I'm not sure how much longer what hair I have left will hang on, I'm not sure how many more rounds my weight will hang on. I don't know what medical protocol will be if I have another 6 rounds or more ahead of me, but I am actively taking donations of gluten-free pot brownies if it keeps the cans of Ensure away!

So should you see me, my ribs, my breast bone and my medi-port hanging out at the beach this summer, just smile and pretend it looks normal.


6.21.2013

White Styrofoam Cup

The breakfast of champions!
I would much rather drink a cup of room temperature toilet water than orange-flavored liquid chalk, so I'm not going to complain about that tasty liter that has the flavor of very special water from a very special place. Not that I know, but I've heard from a few dogs and cats that toilet water is the best!

You can quote me on that. Toilet water is how I would sum up Omnipaque, but it taste delicious given the alternative. God bless the person who invented it, because this girl with her gag reflex does not do barium. I've never made it past a few sips before it kicks in.

Wednesday was my first CT scan since November, and my first scan since I started treatment in April. I've had 6 rounds of chemo, so this is a good point to see if it's actually working.

Scans are always a point of anxiety for we cancer folks. It leads us down that long hallway of waiting in the unknown. I recall blogging about "scanxiety" last year. On Wednesday, I was pretty relaxed given the circumstances. But I'm sure that's partly because I'm still dependent on my nausea drugs (that are technically anxiety drugs in the non-cancer world) on a daily basis, so I was not only nausea-free, but medically relaxed in a non-synthetic cannabis sort of way.

I also didn't have the feeling or fear that there might be something new. That's the good thing about actively being on the type of chemo I'm on now. I'm taking drugs that stop cancer from growing. As miserable as chemo is, I'll admit that it's almost like a security blanket for me. I know I was in the same position last year when cancer did grow, but the type of chemo I was on then wasn't meant to stop it from growing, it was mean to kill the microscopic cancer cells that were most likely drifting all over my body like dandelion seeds in the wind.

We have every reason to believe in a miracle and we have every reason to believe that the treatment is working; yet we have every reason to assume nothing. If that's the lesson I've learned in the last 18 months, it's to assume absolutely nothing when it comes to cancer.

Last November, I had every cocky reason to believe that I was just getting a baseline post-treatment scan and riding on my doctor's words that nothing new was expected. I was planning my return to normal and my new appreciation for every aspect of life. I was not planning on news that this journey wasn't quite over.

I'm sure my scan has been read by a radiologist by now, and his summary and my pictures have been emailed to my doctor. I'm sure we could call him for the results, but I don't feel the need right now. It's pure ignorant bliss. I've yet to actually get good news after any of my scans, so putting off finding out the results lets me live in my security blanket of chemo a little longer.

Don't stand on pins and needles just yet. I'll get the results next Wednesday, just as I'm slipping off into my Benadryl-induced slumber in the $16,000 chair. Yes, the price went up this time. Those chairs are just getting fancier and fancier and costing more and more to sit in. Blogging will be the last thing on my one-track mind next week, as my only concern will be for my bed and nausea pills.

I will update the results when I return to the land of the vertical again.