December 2000


We are facing a bit of a setback right now. The Thanksgiving Cold never really went away and for the past couple weeks, I've been coughing and dry hacking. Kept hoping it would eventually clear up, but it's now causing another fever. Called the oncologist and he has me back on antibiotics. Chemo hasn't been too bad except for its knocking the hell out of my immune system. Going in tomorrow to start the 4th round of chemo. Can't say I'm looking forward to another 6 weeks, but the options are limited. Also, tomorrow marks the 2 month point of surviving cancer! We keep looking forward. Had thought about going up to Columbus, Ohio for Christmas to spend it with Candace's family. Doesn't look like that's going to work out, but have already signed up for vacation next Christmas. How's that for optimism?!


Well, the chemo people showed me exactly how nauseous they could make me if they put their mind to it! The good doctor has decided to add another drug to my chemo regimen - not sure of the name, but I'll get it from Candace and post it (amifostine). It is not a drug to combat cancer, but one to help alleviate the effects of chemotherapy itself: mainly with kidney problems and low immune system response. When the nurse came out with the drug, she had me lay the chair ALLL the way back and warned me not to move for at least 30 minutes. It would take 15 minutes to push the drug and she was pretty sure I wouldn't be feeling too good during and immediately after. Was she right! Two minutes after the stuff was started I began to feel a bit green around the gills. By the end of the 15 minute push, it was all I could do to keep whatever was in the stomach in the stomach. My big concern was that the cold would push me into a coughing spasm and I think that would have set off projectile vomiting in a most spectacular fashion. I kept to the chair and sucked some ice chips for a few minutes until the worst of the nausea passed and felt pretty good by the time I left the Infusion Center a couple hours later. However, if this is the way so many people feel during the whole course of chemo, my heart goes out to them. It was the worst sense of nausea I have ever experienced and not sure if it could have been tolerated for 12 weeks.


The antibiotics are working again. When I went into chemo yesterday, my temperature was back down to 97.something. Still have a lot of chest congestion with an unproductive cough, but generally feeling a bit better. Also found out yesterday that we were getting close to the no-go point for chemo due to suppressed immune system. My number (and I don't know what it all means) for my white blood cell count was 1.7. Nurse said that if it drops to 1.5, chemo is a no go for that week until the system builds up a bit. Here's hoping we don't reach that point.


Not much to report. The cold seems to be slowly improving, but the chest is still very tight. Candace took a listen today and said it didn't sound too bad. The latest is both heels on my feet hurt when I walk. Nothing visible on them, but walking barefoot is a bit painful. Not sure where the heck THAT came from, but noticed it last night. Always something new, I guess. My sense of taste is completely gone. Had a nice steak with sautéed mushrooms and onions last night and it was virtually tasteless. It could have just as easily been library paste and tofu as far as the taste went. We are stringing up some Christmas lights outside today to get the place looking a bit more like we are in the spirit of the season.


Had my 5th chemo treatment yesterday and there is only one more to go! Was a bit leery about the amifostine and nausea, but the nurse said that it probably wouldn't be as bad as the first time and she was correct. Yes, the stomach did some flip-flops, but it passed quickly and only thought I was going to blow lunch a couple times when I coughed. The cough, of course, means the damned cold is STILL hanging around, but Candace says the lungs sound clear and that's a good thing. Another good thing is the peripheral neuropathy seems to be lessening and I'm getting some sense of taste back. Fingertips are not nearly as numb as they have been and the feet have stopped hurting. The amifostine is supposed to help with the bad side effects of chemo, but not sure if it is supposed to help with restoring of sensation. I am not going to complain since it is so good to taste a few things again. Other than this, not much else to report. Would like to take a moment to wish everyone following this saga a very happy holiday season.