Sunday, June 18, 2017

IP Chemo, More delays, and Ramadan

Now that I've completed a full round of IP chemo, I feel a little better about what's to come. The scary thing about IP chemo is that everything you read about it is that it's generally more toxic and can have more severe side effects. Luckily, that didn't happen with my first round, although I did have some side effects that made me a little paranoid.  One of the things is that it can cause more abdominal pain, which it did... but it wasn't long lasting or severe enough to warrant taking pain meds (yay for the little wins!).  It also caused some pretty uncomfortable bloating and constipation, which lasted right into the 
third week.  That's what got me paranoid - because those are exactly the symptoms I had that led to my OC diagnosis in the first place. So on my pre-chemo visit with the RPN, I asked and she confirmed that these are all really common side effects with IP.  That's a big relief because I wouldn't want to think that the cancer has grown back this quickly after surgery AND while I'm getting chemo.  She also told me that another woman who just finished her last round has numbness going all the way around her belly.  Knowing all of that will help me to deal with the mental game of my side effects going forward. One good thing about this round was that the severe palpitations I had for 7 days in round 2 of IV chemo was reduced to only 2 days of tolerable palpitations this time. So I'm glad that there are way less drugs going directly into my veins and affecting my heart. 
My 4th chemo was supposed to be on June 1st, but it was postponed 2 weeks due to low neutrophils.  At least this time it's not platelets, because there's nothing they can give to boost those. If you count the fact that my very first chemo session was postponed by 2 weeks because of that c.difficile infection, my chemo has now officially had a total of 6 weeks in delays *sigh* ... I would love to just be done with it, but I guess it's just one of those things that's out of my control.  I might as well grateful that I had 2 weeks eek of no symptoms and I can start to re-energize a bit. xD
My doctor ordered Neupogen shots going forward, so as long as my platelets cooperate, I'm hoping there will be no more delays.  If so, my last infusion will be on August 4th (God-willing).
The other thing is that Ramadan has started. For anyone who doesn't know, it's a lunar month that starts with the new moon and ends after 30 days or the sighting of the next new moon.  Because the lunar year is actually 10 days shorter than the solar year, Ramadan slides earlier by 10 days each year. So right now, being from the end of May to the end of June, fasting lasts about 17.5 hours (from dawn, NOT sunrise, until sunset). Fasting means abstaining from food during those hours, but also from drinking (and...ummm... sex too shhhh).  Since chemo is so toxic and requires heavy hydration, I am officially "excused" from the fast.  But I can still participate by doing good deeds, volunteer work or donating in charity, and by praying for an extended period every night.  I mean, obviously these things are encouraged all year, all the time, but the reward for doing them during Ramadan is multiplied. 
God said:
"The fasting person has left his food, Drink and desires for my sake, The fast is for me, So I will reward him (or her) for it and the reward of good deeds is multiplied ten times” 

 I guess it's very similar to the Christian period of Lent.  
"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you. so that you may learn self restraint. Quran 2:183”

I did manage to go to the mosque for the first 4 nights of extended prayer (it starts at 10:50 pm and lasts until around 12:15am), but on the 3 nights I got my Neupogen shot, I was completely knocked out. I don't think it was the Neupogen itself though... Maybe it was the "non-drowsy" no-name brand Claritin that I took to stave off the infamous Neupogen bone pain.  It worked! No bone pain! But I fell asleep on the couch all three nights and was sawing logs by midnight ;).  
I did manage to go again on the next Friday and Saturday night. And on that Saturday we were co-sponsoring the dinner, so I brought 6 trays of lasagne (with a little help from the ovens of  my friends) and 4 large trays of baklava.  Whew!  I'm guessing that's what knocked me out again the next day (Sunday) because boy did I ever sleeeeeeeep! :)
After that I went for another blood test hoping that chemo would be on after a one week delay, but nope! Still had low neutrophils .  So I decided to start fasting since the drugs were pretty clear out of my system by then.  I managed to get in 7 days of fasting, then the next blood test was STILL too low, so went back on the Neupogen and stopped fasting. That did the trick.  They went from 0.9 to 9 in 4 days.  
Chemo 4 part 1 officially went in this Friday (June 16th) and thankfully I'm not feeling too bad.  Let's just hope part 2 goes ok because last time it was the one that caused more discomfort.  At least now I know what to expect, and that the pain went away during my 2 weeks of delays.  Time to just carry on ;) 🤗

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