My capacity for medical details has greatly increased. I don't have to write things down so much anymore.
This morning, my alarm clock did not make any noise, so I randomly woke up at 8:35, ten minutes before I was supposed to leave to get to chemo. It takes me more than ten minutes just to rally the various aspects of pretend-hair I have going these days. I don't like being late for appointments.
|Chairs facing the window|
After around two or so hours of the Taxol infusion, my face goes pale, and I get super spacey. Walking and dragging around my chemo cart helps. And it's great to get some stuff done. I've written 12 emails into my Outbox folder, so far. Also read The New Yorker and The SF Examiner...and some of Time which says that, every day, one soldier or veteran in the U.S. commits suicide...
Yesterday I had a skype call with Pasadini – whose self and cat have on several occasions rocked the photography on this blog - and who happened to have been diagnosed with follicular thyroid cancer on that very day. She's a good friend anyway, but there's something about talking to someone with cancer that is additionally satisfying. She hasn't talked to an oncologist yet; possibly she will only need surgery to have the lump removed...I hope so. It seems to me, so far, that the Cancer 'meme' is far heavier than the actual experience...But people (older people, unhealthier people?) often have more trouble than I...I think that the severity of side effects are always going to be relative, to some degree, to how bad you imagine it to be. I thought I was going to be deathly ill. For several weeks I was in a lot of pain from having my entire pelvis burnt outside and in, and I have many side effects, but so far, especially this round, nothing too severe. I think in this country the biggest issue is money/medical insurance. If you don't have it, or you have shitty insurance, it's financial - if no other kind of - ruin.
Karen gave me some more detail white blood cell counts. The five different kinds of white blood cells correspond to levels of maturity. Neutrophils are the most immature, so they bode well for the future! But my overall white blood cell counts dropped a lot in three weeks. If the “absolute white blood cell count,” calculated by an algorithm using total white cell count and neutrophils, is less than 1.5, they usually postpone chemotherapy. Mine is 1.4, dang (but of course Dr. Nelson said I could go ahead, which is why I am here, yay!) So I'll be giving myself the daily shots (Nupogen) this time, the bone crusher (hopefully not) to help with blood counts. I might have to do it after my last chemo also. Last round, I kept wanting the treatment to be postponed. This time, having reached my potentially penultimate (thanks for the vocab Dhi) chemotherapy session, I will do whatever I need to do to make sure it happens, so I get to finish and go to Mexico for three weeks!
|Cancer Central in San Francisco, |
the view from chemo room
Is Obama secretly in town? The drive to Misha's was nightmare, as my Russian friend used to say. I felt capable, not too spaced out to drive, but downtown was a sardine can. I thought I had picked the perfect route (Geary to Stockton, simple!) but it seemed that every street I turned on had a detour. I haven't driven in traffic that bad in a long time. Next time, either drive home and take BART, or cross Market street sooner rather than later, avoiding downtown. According to google, it's 2.6 miles. It took me almost an hour. Mercedes, who works at Misha's, said that when that happens they often find out later that Obama was in town.
I told her a little about the talk about herbs with Dr. Nelson. I said, But Misha is kind of famous, isn't she? Mercedes said, She's a legend. Vicky Austin from Zen Center said today, she's the best. I am so grateful to her.
|Line of sunset-infused jet smoke, and beneath it,|
some interesting, if barely visible, lines, and
Sutro Tower in the distance, wearing its skirt of fog
A note about the post title: Putting together my upgraded bed, I was reflecting on my Skype conversation with Kathy earlier tonight. I spoke with great ardor on this round of treatment, and my optimism about outcomes. And about how kind of odd it feels to be optimistic, either because of my formerly nihilistic tendencies, or perhaps from having experienced as an American too much forced optimism. I feel very optimistic about Pasadini, too. And all this optimism is on steroids right now.
I wonder of all the people in the US who get whatever kind of cancer, how many of them die within 5 years? A great many people recover from cancer, Lance Armstrong isn't the only one...