Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Who's the fat old bald the mirror?

Note that these photos are more flattering
than the real situation
I hasten to point out that of course there is nothing wrong at all with old men. The problem is that I didn't think I was one. Until today.

Shantinayaka kindly buzzed off most of my hair this afternoon. It was starting to look weird and seeing bits of my hair everywhere - for example, on my computer screen right now...or in my food - was driving me crazy. When I buzzed my hair 15 or so years ago, you could not see my scalp. Now I have around 20% density. It will be easier to take perhaps when it is all gone, which I imagine will be soon.

I have an appointment through the American Cancer Society with a place in West Portal to do a wig fitting tomorrow morning. Or, as it is also known in my current circles, a hair prosthesis.

I thought I might enjoy being bald. There's still plenty of time for that...

Anyway...earlier today: blood tests, Dr. Tavakoli, and restorative movement/Feldenkrais. 

The nice thing about meeting Dr. T is that chemotherapy becomes run-of-the-mill. It's totally normal to him, and he's funny. You deal with the symptoms and make it work. Here are my notes from the meeting:

Suburban babes from the 
American Cancer Society catalog
Neuropathy - Chemo attacking digestive system and hair follicles and bone marrow is well known. It can also attack the nerve sheath. Told him it had gotten better, just slight numbness still in my toes, not in my fingers anymore. If it gets worse there is a drug, of course, Neurontin (Gabapentin) which doesn't really have side effects other than making some people drowsy. If neuropathy gets worse next round, will decrease chemo by 10%.

Increased appetite - unlike what you think is going to happen on chemo, I am ravenous pretty much all the time. He said it's because of the steroids (note that dexamethazone is a glucocorticosteroid, not an anabolic steroid)* in the chemo. I'm also taking dexamethazone in pill form for several days following the chemo. I understood it's main use was anti-nausea, but if you look it up on wikipedia you will see a lot more going on. I've gained at least 5 lbs in 3 weeks, and that's with getting a fair amount of exercise. If I stop the, it's too horrible to ponder.

Herbs, immunity - He suggested not taking my herbs the first week of chemo, concerned about anti-oxidants. Will talk to Misha about it. He said the lowest immunity (which doesn't necessarily correspond to feeling bad) comes on Days 10-14. The sickness can be caused by my own bacteria getting into blood stream. In terms of how I feel, Days 15-19, so far, I seem to feel the worst and be the most spacey. Although it still varies throughout the day.

I could swear they tell me something different about the fever thing every time. He said a fever of 101 means go to ER immediately, will need IV antibiotics. If over 100.4, check again in 15 minutes...

We talked briefly about my emergency room visit. I mentioned that Tong ate the same eggs and didn't get sick. He did not think that meant I was more immune compromised, could be just that the bites I took had bacteria in them and his did not.

Blood counts came back and look good. For example, normal range for neutrophils is 41-81%. Mine is 62%. White blood cell count and red blood cell count are on the lower side but still in normal range. I wish I could see what they would be if I weren't taking all these bloody pills!

The Feldenkrais was great. I'll write more about that later. Want to go back to the arty support group, but don't have the energy to hang around for 2 hours after the Feldenkrais class.

* More info about the different steroid types on

Bye kitty


  1. Neurontin has a nickname: morontin. It definitely messes with word recall, can make you feel inarticulate, and possibly affects short term memory (I can't remember). I used to take it, but what I switched to has made me even dumber, I might switch back. Other than making you feel stupid, it is a pretty clean drug, without noticeable physical side effects.

  2. I should never believe a doctor when they say something has no side effects. Confirmed! x

  3. There is another GABA drug, I think it might be better, can't remember what it's called.

  4. Neurontin gave me hives (just as I found a dose that didn't knock me out). I wrote a haiku about the somnolence. I'll try to dig it up. Gabapentin & neurontin are generic/label names for the same drug, I'm pretty sure. Lyrica is, I believe, the new cousin. Worth a shot for the nerve stuff! I found it effective before my system revolted.

    Yours from the land of pain management,

  5. Thanks for the tips ladies. I hope I don't have to try any of them but if so perhaps I'll ask about Lyrica...x