Tuesday, March 28, 2006

My Inner Mouse Finally Showed Up

Well, I knew it had to happen sometime. You know that one of the chemicals that they give me is Rituxan and that is made from Mouse proteins or Chinese Hamster ovaries. Yesterday, soon after they started the Rituxan, I felt a strange popping on the top of my head. I called to Cheryl to look and, sure enough, mouse ears had popped out of the top of my head. I immediately put on my "Faith, Love, Hope, Win" hat to try to contain them, but they popped through that too. I told Cheryl to grab the camera so we could document this strange event. The evidence is here for all to see. Do you think we might have enough for a law suit? What's next? A tail? Only a cheese diet? Litters of critters? Will I have to sleep in a wire cage? Already I can't pass a trash can without an overwhelming desire to rummage through it. I guess this is still better than nausea or hair loss. Sigh, the things we have to put up with to beat Cancer!

Actually, the chemo went great again. Only this strange side effect documented above. You know, I think those ears make me look fat! I intentionally put on weight before the start of chemo because they said I wouldn't feel like eating and I would have to fight to keep weight on. They were wrong again. I have gained weight after each chemo round and am now almost 25 pounds heavier than my low weight last fall. Guess I will have to really work on that. I think some of it is the effects of the steroids and some of it is because I can't keep my butt out of the refrigerator or the M&Ms and cookies that my Mom likes to eat. We don't usually keep candy and snacks in the house, but Mom likes them, so we have them around.

I only slept an hour last night, but I did sleep most of the day yesterday. They start off with a Benadryl infusion and that really did a bigger job on me than usual. I couldn't get through the movie I brought to help pass the time and then I slept for several hours after we got home too. After the Benadryl wore off, I guess the steroids took over. This morning I started with the Prednisone tablets so I will try an Ambien tonight to try to get some sleep. If all else fails, I can overdose again on Phenegren -- NOT!

I had the two Tylenol to begin, then the bag of Benadryl, then the Rituxan, then the anti-nausea bag with the bag of steroids and then the bag with Cytoxan. We started later in the morning, but we were still done by 3:30, so not too bad. Cheryl left about 11 to do some shopping and brought lunch back and woke me up to eat it. Chicken sandwich, but no cheese - hmm.

My blood work from yesterday continues to look good! In fact my neutrophils went up. Now this is a different lab and they reported them as granulocytes, so I don't know how much difference that makes. Anyway, for those of you who understand this stuff, the results are as follows with this labs normal range:

WBC 5.0 Range 4.1 - 10.9 YEA!
LYM 2.8, 55.7% Range 0.6 - 4.1 and 10.0% - 58.5% Double YEA!
GRAN 2.0 Range 2.0 - 7.8 YEA (I think)
RBC 4.08 Range 4.20 - 6.30 Low, but not too bad
PLT 94 Range 140 - 440 Low, but not too bad and up from my lowest

Next blood tests will be April 10th and next Chemo with blood tests will be April 17th.

Again, thanks so much for all your prayers. Everything is going much better than I had imagined. I am continuing to work from home quite a bit and this also keeps me away from all the folks who keep getting sick at work. There have been many with flu-like illnesses that last for days and I have escaped it so far.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Post Round Three Blood Work

I had blood work done this morning and over all I am very pleased. For the first time since diagnosis, BOTH WBC and absolute lymphocytes were in the normal range. Platelets even climbed to almost 100.

I will post just the significant ones (to me). First is today's, second is at start of chemo and then the reference range:

WBC - 4.7 42.3 (ref 4.0-11.0 k/ul) *18.2 last June

Lym # - 2.6 38.9 (ref 1.0-4.0 k/ul) *14.8 last June

Lym % - 54.90 92.10 (ref 19.00-48.00%)

Neu # - 1.5 2.2 (ref 3.0 - 7.0 k/ul)

Neu % - 31.3 5.3 (ref 40.0 - 74%)

Mono % - 11.5 1.0 (ref 3.0 - 11.0)

EOS # - 0.0 0.1 (ref 0.1 - 0.4 k/ul)

RBC - 4.32 4.58 (ref 4.70 - 6.10 M/ul)

Plts - 99 117 (ref 130 - 400 k/ul) *these have bounced all over the place from 72 to 135

Everything else in normal range, except MCH which was only .1 above normal range, and some of the other results aren't back yet.

Anyway, I am happy. I am scheduled to begin round four of chemo next Monday and they will do another blood draw then. Even if he decides to do all of the rounds, I am halfway through - YEA!

I am still feeling pretty good, no nausea, no hair loss, but getting grumpy sometimes (like yesterday). I am going to Dallas on Wednesday to help train our new course and will return Friday night.

Thanks to everyone for their continued prayers!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Big Mistake

Thursday night I did get five hours sleep out of the sleeping pill. However, starting yesterday morning around 10 a.m. I got 20 hours sleep, but it was a very dangerous way. I made a very big mistake out of stupidity.

I was working from home on the new course (and making progress). About 9:30 a.m. it was time for my morning Prednisone pills. I went out into the kitchen and grabbed the bottle from among the many and took four tablets.

By 10 a.m. I was feeling very strange and laid down on the couch and fell asleep. That afternoon, my daughter, Cindy, came over and could barely rouse me. I had promised to help her hook up her trailer for a trip she is taking to visit her husband in the oil fields over Spring break. She went on without me.

Cheryl came home, fixed dinner (usually my job), and and finally got me awake enough to eat. Then I went back to sleep. Everytime I got up to use the restroom or take my evening pills, I was staggering and felt very drugged. I spent the night either on the couch or in my recliner. Only waking long enough to use the restroom and then collapsing again.

The problem? Seems when I took the Prednisone yesterday morning, it wasn't Prednisone, but Promethazine Tabs 25 mg (brand name Phenergan). It is a very similar size white pill just like Prednisone. Only I took FOUR times the normal dosage. It is used for me as a supplementary drug for nausea instead of the more expensive Zofran. I only use it if needed on opposite weeks from chemo. I have only used it twice in the last several months. I counted the pills and, sure enough, there are four extra missing. Besides use for nausea, it is an antihistamine and also used as a SLEEPING AID!

When I looked it up on Google, there is a warning that it can also stop your breathing if overdosed. I was VERY lucky. Bottom line, read labels thoroughly before taking any medication. If I can help anyone avoid my mistake, it is worth it posting my dumbness here for all to read.

The good news is that my nose isn't running from my cold and I did get lots of sleep. Dangerous way to do it, though.

Cheryl is now monitoring my meds. So this is what it is like getting old? :(

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Third Chemo Week Now Have a Cold

Had blood work again just before the treatment and saw the doctor. Counts were down again and he wasn't as pleased that they are bouncing like that. Neutrophils that fight infection are getting lower and that may be why I have caught a cold yesterday. Nose and chest. He said we may have to do all six rounds to try to get the numbers to even out and hold steady. WBC was in the normal range, but lymphocyte percentage up. We discussed my not sleeping on Prednisone and discussed the Benadryl along with 3 mg of Melatonin. He offered a sleeping pill but I told him I wanted to try this first. The chemo infusion went without a hitch. No reactions. Started about 9 a.m. with five different bags of stuff. First Tylenol pills, then Benadryl infusion that makes me go to la-la land, then the big bag of Rituxan (my mouse parts), then a bag of steroids, then a bag of anti-nausea medicine, all followed by my bag of Cytoxan chaser. A bag of Saline was going steady the whole time. At least it all goes through my portacath in my upper chest, so I didn't have to get re-stuck each time. We were done a little after 2 in the afternoon. Nothing like the fresh smell of chemo in the morning. Well Monday night I got 1 hour of sleep finally at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. Tuesday night I got two hours sleep starting at 3:30 a.m. I went to work. So yesterday I called and asked for a prescription. He gave me Ambien that is supposedly strong and works quick. My cold started coming on in the afternoon. I took the Ambien at 10 p.m. and went straight to bed. I was awake until after 1 a.m. and then woke up at 5:15. At least I got four hours sleep. I got up to get ready for work, but it was like I was in a fog and was very slow going. I finally got to work after 8 a.m. I am usually there at 7 a.m. Tonight I took it at 9 p.m and am waiting for it to kick in. It is now midnight and I am feeling nothing. Oh well. I did get some medicine to maybe help the cold. Now taking at least 24 pills a day this week, counting 8 pills of Prednisone, two anti-nausea a day, cold pills dissolved in mouth every thee hours, stomach pills, 2 heart pills, blood pressure pills, two kinds of cholesterol pills (3 pills), a fish oil pill for a different cholesterol, Benadryl, and then shoot up with insulin before meals. Now the sleeping pill. Tough to remember them all. Mom always said I was a pill growing up. Hmmm, wonder why I feel kind of drugged? ('Enter' key not working on the keyboard, so can't make paragraphs????) I did get permission to work from home on a course I am writing while I am doing the chemo. That will help. I should be able to get more done and then cat nap when I can. I think this will help. Please pray that I will start sleeping better and pep up and get back to my jolly old self. Thanks. Going to bed now and wait for the sandman to arrive. Hope he knows my address, we moved 10 years ago.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Recent Blood Test

This is just a quick post as I promised a couple of folks I would post it tonight. I went to San Angelo this week and had a good time. Especially because I got to go out to dinner one night with my former pastor and his wife, both very good friends - Earl and Paula Dunn. They have always been such tremendous support for our family for over 33 years!

I also had encounters with two more people dealing with cancer. I will write about that next week as it is late and I am tired, even after a long nap.

Anyway, here are my test results from today:

The nurse who gave me the results said it looks like a go for Monday. Here are the highlights (well, highlights for me, at least! )

WBC 6.7 k/ul (Normal ref range for males: 4.0-11.0 k/ul *
Neutrophil # 1.6 K/uL (Normal 3.0-7.0 K/uL)
Lymphocyte # 4.6 K/uL (Normal 1.0-4.0 K/uL) *
Lymphocyte % 67.90 (Normal 19.00-48.00%) Looking MUCH better! *
RBC 4.19 M/uL (Normal 4.70-6.10 M/uL) *
HGB 14.40 g/dl (Normal 13.00-17.00 g/dl)
HCT 39.40% (Normal 37.00-49.00%)
Platelets 86 K/uL (Normal 130-400 K/uL) Have been worse *

* All are important, but these are the most important to me right now. WBC was previously up over 40,000 and Lymphocytes have been way up in that range too with the percentage over 90%. Those are the main indicators for this type of Leukemia, so to see the WBC in the normal range again is fantastic. They lymph count is very close to normal and the percentage isn't that far away.

So really a fantastic report. As I told the Dunns, I almost feel guilty that things are going so well when so many have such a difficult time with their treatments. I am truly blessed and truly blessed by having people from all over the country praying for me. Thank you all!