Sunday, October 25, 2009

Radioactive Man's weekend, etc.


Workin' for the Weekend (10/10/09)
I left off after the radio-embolization on Thursday, when I was in extreme pain until the docs and nurses finally figured out a good narcotic regimen to make me nice and drugged (oxycontin + dilaudid = happy). Well there's not a whole lot to tell about the weekend after that. After the embolization, I started having the same fun "post embolization syndrome" symptoms as before: fevers, night sweats, pain, etc. There was a bit of a discussion among the doctors about what to give me to treat the fevers. the two main choices are tylenol and ibuprofen. The problem is that tylenol can have liver toxicity at high doses (not actually that much of a problem for me since my liver function tests had been fairly normal despite all the crap that's been going on in there), and ibuprofen can tend to thin the blood and potentially cause bleeding (not something you want so much after you've just had a procedure to stop internal bleeding). In any case, there was a lot of back and forth on this, and it seems like we've settled that Tylenol is the best bet for now, since my liver function has been fairly stable.

Also, I had to keep to the "3 feet for 3 days" rule, which meant because I had radioactive particles in me, I had to stay at least 3 feet away from small children and pregnant women for at least 3 days. Not a tough rule to follow, but I did keep hugs to a 2-minute maximum. . .

Chemo Bemo
I finally went home that Sunday, but the fun fevers were not over. More about that in a bit. The real question was what to do next. I had an appointment with Dr. G on Wednesday and she suggested starting another round of chemo as soon as possible. We were originally going to try taxotere and gemcitabine, but since one of them has some toxic interaction with radiation, she suggested taxol (similar to taxotere). The nice thing is that it's just a one day (3-hour) infusion and doesn't have a whole lot of crazy side effects. They just have to give it to you slowly at first to make sure you don't have any allergic reactions. The plan would be to get two doses (every three weeks) and then scan to see how things look. Taxol has a 25% chance of shrinking the tumors. Not great odds, but not terrible either. At some point my luck needs to flip, right?

So in any case, I went to get my first Taxol infusion two days later on Friday, about a week after having the right side of my liver essentially killed off for the second time. Sometimes I wonder how I'm still alive at all with all the "treatment" they're giving me, but I'm still kickin'. I had to go in on Saturday to get a dose of Neulasta, which is basically a longer-lasting version of neupogen, to help my white cell counts recover. Luckily, I didn't have too much reaction from the chemo, as far as I could tell. Compared to the pain and fevers and other uncomfortableness, the chemo was actually relatively easy to take. The only major symptoms were that the neulasta shot made my body really achy for a couple of days, and the Taxol is causing neuropathy in my fingers and feet. This basically means I have a constant tingling/numbness sensation in my fingers, toes, and the pads of my feet. It makes typing and walking kind of interesting but it's not unbearable. Hopefully it'll go away after a while.

Riding the fever roller coaster
Last time it took the fevers about 10 days to go away. This time, well, they still haven't gone away, and it's been about 16 days. Granted, I had a round of chemo shoved in there and this was a radio-embolization as opposed to a temporary gel-foam embolization, and so one might expect a longer recovery. Still, it is not fun to feel like crap for this long. Right now I'm taking Tylenol around the clock to try and keep the fevers down, but they still come regardless. Actually, the IR and oncology docs both are suspicious for infection at this point, so I had blood cultures drawn on Wednesday, and again on Friday. So far the results have been negative. I had a CT scan on Friday to see if maybe there was an abscess (a pocket of infectious fluid) growing in the liver, but they weren't able to tell much from the scan. I did get a dose of IV antibiotics (Zosyn, for those of you keeping track) and I've been on Augmentin since Monday. None of this seems to be doing too much good, although I have been "feeling" slightly better despite the fevers. That is, even though my temp is up, somehow I don't feel quite as crappy as before. Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I'll take all the positive feelings I can get, even if they are a bit delusional :P.

1 comment:

AnthonyB said...

Have you ever asked why they don't test the different chemo drugs they might give you against cell cultures of your cancer to determine which ones would be most effective before they administer them to you? I'm sure there's some difference between in vitro and in vivo, but surely they could build a model. Keep up the fight!