Thursday, March 20, 2008

First Update of Induction Round Three

I've been meaning to post an update, but circumstances prevented me from getting to it until now. Nothing alarming, just, well, circumstances.

When I came in on Sunday night, I was set up in a semi-private room as all the private rooms were taken. I was finally moved into a private room yesterday. (Remember the reckless guy I mentioned who also had AML and was waiting for a transplant? It's his old room. He got out just the day before.)

Meanwhile, there's always interesting stuff going on. My roommate in the semi-private room is an older (at least, older than me) woman who had been diagnosed with some kind of cancer in her lungs and brain, but there were still some questions that testing had yet to answer. She was, understandably, in a bit of a state, what with being in pain, with limited mobility (ten years of prednisone had worked over her bones pretty hard) and trying to absorb all this. When her family wasn't around we spent some time talking about cancer and coping.

I started chemo yesterday. This is a seven-day affair, but unlike previous ones I'm not taking any elements of the new cocktail simultaneously. That says to me that these chemicals are particularly bad-ass; they don't even play well with each other. The first one is etoposide, which is administered in an interesting way: a mere 20.8 mL of the stuff is mixed in with a liter of .9% saline—that's less than the margin of overfill in each bag. But even that tiny amount is enough to keep my stomach in a permanent state of unrest. (Not actual nausea, or even stomach upset—the Zofran and ginger tea are seeing to that—but it is uncomfortable.) The thing is, for the 64 hours of continuous treatment I'm getting for the first phase, I'm taking in 6 liters of fluid every 24 hours. To put that in context: you know how hard it is to drink that (bogus) recommended 8 cups of water a day? Those 8 cups come out to less than 2 liters. With so much fluid going into me, I have to make very frequent trips to the bathroom, even through the night—despite upping my desmopressin dose (for the diabetes insipidus) to its earlier levels. I also have to keep a close eye on my weight to make sure I'm not retaining too much water—if that happens, then they'll put me on a furosemide, a diuretic.

Can't wait until I switch to cyclophosphamide. I'm told that (a) I will most definitely get mouth sores again, and (b) they might well be worse. Things to look forward to!

I spent about six hours yesterday evening catching up on healemru.com-related stuff, adding some new flyers and adding registries from 37 new countries. If you haven't told your far-flung friends about donating bone marrow yet, now is a good time. I've also been adding information about bone marrow drives, and Californian readers should take note that there are two drives coming up on March 29 (Victorville) and April 19 (Palo Alto).

I woke up this morning with a scratchy throat, some sniffles, and a mildly uncomfortable chest. My hematologist had mentioned on Monday that RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) has been going around, so when I mentioned the throat and chest, the nurses and med student swung into action. That meant a throat swab, an electrocardiogram, and a mucus culture. The mucus culture is taken by sticking a (lubricated, thank goodness) tube up my right nostril and into the back of my throat. Some saline gets sprayed in there as well. In my usual odd way, the throat swab was the hardest of the three.

Anyway, that's it for now. Look for new photos on Flickr soon, and ever more excitin' updates.

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