chemo 5 update

crayon drawing of spiral in art journal

This chemo has been the hardest so far.

The side effects have lasted longer – especially the fatigue. I began to feel in a bit of a rut, mentally, as if the drudgery of this treatment will never end. Thankfully I’m finally pulling out of it now, and starting to feel a bit more energetic and upbeat as I head into my final chemo infusion next week.

Chemo 5 itself was pretty uneventful (the infusion). The nurse got the vein on the first try, and the time in the chemo clinic passed relatively quickly, because they knew that I didn’t react to the Docetaxel, so they could increase the drip speed. I’d downloaded some of these podcasts by Elizabeth Gilbert to listen to, and they helped pass the time, although they were shorter than I’d been expecting (about 20 minutes each), so I had to take my hands out of the ice packs and fiddle with my iPhone several times when each one ended, to select and start the next one.

I was really sleepy from the Benadryl they gave me before the Docetaxel, and went right to bed when I got home.

I got my Neulasta shot the next day to stimulate white blood cell production, and otherwise felt somewhat perky until day 3, when the steroid medication I’m taking to counteract some of the side effects of the Docetaxel was done.

I had started using diaper cream on my labia the morning of the chemo, to protect my skin from the horrible irritation I got from the Docetaxel in my urine on chemo 4. I used the diaper cream for about 7 or 8 days, until the mucous membrane irritation caused by the Docetaxel was over.

I got mouth sores for several days, but again by day 7 or 8 they were clearing up. I also started getting low grade fevers the day after the infusion, and ultimately had to in to the ER on the Sunday night after chemo. We’ve been experiencing overcrowding in the local ER recently, so it wasn’t much fun. Thankfully once again my neutrophil count was high enough that I didn’t need to be admitted. They just gave me some IV antibiotics and sent me home.

It’s very enervating to have fever for so many days, though. Maybe that’s what contributed to my general malaise. That, and accumulated fatigue from the chemo. Anyhow, I was pretty horizontal for many days, not feeling much energy until past day 14.