Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Late night doctor visit

The swollen lymph nodes that I mentioned in my previous post had not done much besides get bigger since my visit to the clinic on Monday.  I emailed Van Tine to see if he could set up another appointment for me tomorrow to have them looked at. Being a stereotypical assistant professor, he was still in his office working, so he asked if I was still on campus too.  I live about 8 blocks from school, so it is very easy for me to come in on short notice.  I wasn't surprised that the first thing he did was pinch my lumps and ask me if it hurt since Brian likes to poke and jab at any and every body part that is currently afflicting me.  Then he stuck a large gauge needle in my bigger lump, and surprisingly only blood came out.  We were both a bit worried until he poked the other one and saw a bunch of pus come out.  Brian figured he went too shallow with the big one and got pus to come out when he drove it deeper.  Morale of the story is my lumps were just boils and not more cancer (which was on the table but unlikely).  Hopefully the newest antibiotic he just put me on works to clear the rest that remains.

Van Tine also listened to my breathing to get an approximate measurement of my chest tumor.  It is extending out of my ribs and on top of my lungs, so he just has to listen to see how far up my lungs go to see how big the tumor is.  By his ear, it has shrunk considerably from its former hugeness.  He poked me in the top part of my back and proclaimed that's how big it is now.

We also talked about my upcoming surgery a bit.  They will take scans the week before to see where everything is and plan out what they'll take out from there.  The when, where, and who is all set in stone.  Now we just have to wait to find out what they're actually going to do.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Two steps forward, one step back

It has been about a week and half since my last chemo treatment, and I am feeling pretty normal.  I've been working in lab consistently since last Monday without any problems.  The side effects didn't linger much and my minor GI issues straightened themselves out within a few days of being done.  It was fairly liberating getting my port line taken out so that I don't have a tube dangling from my chest all day every day anymore.  My next treatment is a week from tomorrow and will only take one day. 

One issue that has popped up the last few days is that I have a presumptive bacterial infection causing a couple of the lymph nodes in my armpit to swell up.  I first noticed some pain a few days ago and discovered the lumps on Sunday.  I had them checked out yesterday at the Cancer Clinic where they took some blood samples to do some cultures.  They put me on another antibiotic, and the swelling should go down within a couple of days if it works.  If not, they'll probably have to cut them open to drain since the nodes have been growing pretty rapidly over the past two days.  Hopefully I will get the results of the culture back in the next day or so to see if it will affect my treatment or not.

That's all for now.  If I don't post again for awhile, you can safely assume I'm doing OK.  No news from me is good news.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Round 2 update

Today is the 5th and last day of my 2nd round of chemo. I've been at the hospital from around 8 to around 2 everyday this week, and it has gone fairly smoothly. Different friends have stopped by everyday to keep me company and eat lunch with me. I was initially worried about getting bored and having nothing to do, but I've come across the opposite. I can't say I've been able to help out my friend and labmate Ray with any of the work I asked him to throw my way. I haven't had much "free" time in between talking to friends, watching the occasional episode, and frequent naps.

The need to nap has been the biggest side effect of this round. My sleeping patterns are hit and miss with 2 or 3 naps a day, falling asleep at 8 pm, waking up at 4 am, and followed by a nap from 6 to 7 am. I had been feeling pretty good after treatment, and had been going to lab after I get done. I ended up laying down and taking a nap in lab instead yesterday, so I'm taking it easy today and going home after to clean up my place. I might even do my taxes.

Hair loss has also been steadily increasing. I've taken it down to an eighth of an inch from the half inch pictures I recently put up. Bald spots have been popping up as well which I'm still getting used to. Shaving was also a breeze this morning taking a whole minute to clean up what scruff I have left.

I'm looking forward to being done today, getting the tube which has been hooked up to my port all week taken off, and not smelling like chemo all the time. My last intermission was nice, and I'm happy to end this week by to starting a new one.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Hello more chemo, Goodbye hair

Hey Everyone,

It has been a very average week, but I have a few things to update on.  I've continued to feel very well in general, and I’ve been able to work a normal week in lab.  My experimental results have been a mixed bag of success and failure, but that is normal too.  My blood counts were back up to the regular levels when tested Thursday morning, which means that my reprieve from treatments and hospital beds ends on Monday with the start my second round of chemo.  My chemo drugs alternate ever other time so I do not know whether I will react as favorably to this round as the first one.  Unfortunately, these set requires me to receive it over the course of 5 days lasting around 8 hours each day.  Fortunately, I now have an iPad (thanks to many of my generous friends and colleagues) with several different streaming websites at my disposal (thank to Shradha and Ben) to ease my boredom.  I will be helping write a review as well to keep me busy and partially productive for my grad school career. 

                In other news, I gave myself a hair cut Wednesday night in anticipation of my hair falling out.  It looks like I had perfect timing since I started noticeably shedding yesterday.  My hair hasn’t been this short since the 7th grade, but I’m starting to get used to seeing myself in the mirror. 

                That is all for now.  I will post again when more news comes up or I get really bored sitting around getting chemo.  Whichever comes first.

Before and After Haircut