Transfusion #4, A Port, and Dammit I'm Tired.
I know, I know. I make this big announcement and then no updates.
In the last 10 days or so, I had a fourth blood transfusion, had a minor surgery, and continued my daily radiation treatments and weekly dose of chemo...all in the wake of recovering from that damn rash. I've had so much Benadryl pumped into my system, I'm surprised I'm awake already. Thankfully, Mom was here last week, so I had help around the house while I slept off the Benadryl.
The blood transfusion was planned, as noted in a previous post. Cancer treatment kills blood cells, so in an effort to be proactive, we just planned for two units and since my bleeding has stopped, hopefully that will get me through. Let me tell you, scheduling outpatient procedures is SO much better than the ER. My oncologist proactively requested Tylenol and Benadryl before the transfusion to ensure no fevers or reactions. The only issue was the poor nurse trying to find my vein for the IV. He had to get an ultrasound to find the vein and get the needle in, which resulted in some of that jelly being on my arm, and that wasn't pleasant. Otherwise, the Benadryl was administered via my IV, so I was passed out for the duration.
I had my port placement procedure a couple days later. For those unfamiliar (Lord knows I didn't have a clue what a port was), a port is a little plastic disc inserted just under the skin on your chest, and a catheter is threaded into a vein near the collarbone. It basically provides a tap for blood draws, giving me medication (or anything else you'd put into an IV), and since I have what's called a power port, it can also handle things like contrast for scans and such. My veins are so tapped out the poor nurse had to use a vein in my wrist for this one last IV.
The port surgery was pretty easy. They brought me into the operating room and got me all hooked up to monitors and gave me some anti-nausea meds to make sure the sedatives didn't make me upchuck. I was told I'd be in a twilight sleep, which means you're awake but don't really feel anything or remember that you were awake. I recall nothing after asking "was that the knock-out juice?" I woke up in post op with some bandages and no recollection of the last....however long I was out.
I can't say there was much pain after the surgery. I was proactive with Aleve, but aside from being sore when I slept any way but on my back, the dressings being itchy were more problematic than the actual incisions.
The cool thing about ports is they can be used pretty much right away. I had chemo the next day, and the nurse pulled off the gauze and tape, then used a special needle to tap into the port. She was able to draw blood, flush the port with saline, then start pumping in my chemo meds. I now understand why everyone at chemo has a port.
Beyond the added procedures, treatment has been going fine. I'm starting to feel some of the nausea on occasion, but the biggest issue this week has been diarrhea. Nothing like at the hospital, but my tummy gets rumbly if I eat anything too interesting. I've been eating the most boring food I have (ginger ale, crackers, cereal, and applesauce) and taking Imodium to keep it under control. I'm also pretty gassy, so that's fun. I did a little research, and avoiding high fiber foods that stimulate the digestive system is the best way to slow things down. Hooray for mashed potatoes!
The tough thing is balancing care for my digestive system with eating. Food doesn't really sound appetizing lately, but I know I need to eat. For some reason, I crave dairy constantly, but nothing else. I guess it's fine that I can't really hold in anything fun, since I don't crave it anyway. I just have to make sure I'm eating and getting calories.
The radiation is starting to affect my skin "down there." Things are getting itchy and going to the bathroom burns a little. I've been taking baths in colloidal oatmeal, which helps a little. Witch hazel helps the itching, and I'm coating everything in Aquaphor before bed each night. Those fancy water sprays (Avene and La Roche Posay are the ones I have on hand) actually soothe my skin between more time consuming treatments and minimize itching.
If you guys haven't noticed the pattern yet, there are few things worse for me than being itchy.
So, yeah, I've been exhausted this week. Like, I basically slept from the time my sister took mom to the airport Friday until Monday. There were a few hours awake in there, but not a lot. I proudly went all day yesterday without a nap. I slept like a rock, right up until I woke up at 3 am with tummy issues. Maybe that's a sign I'll have a bit more energy this week.