Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Lymphoma We Come Across, The Mo Problems We See

I thought I would be writing more. I spend a lot of time on the computer but it hasn't been happening. So I'll abandon any dreams of well-crafted essays and cheat with word vignettes.

* * *

I get chemo on Mondays and take the rest of the week off. I don't have to.

I feel okay for the most part during that week. On Tuesday, I'm pretty tired. I feel like I worked out a lot the previous day - muscles are a bit slow and achy. The rest of the week, I'm less tired, but might take a short nap in the afternoon. So I could definitely work some hours. But there is a staunch anti work from home policy, it seems, so I'd have to drive over there. And it doesn't feel great to drive. And then there's the matter of not caring enough. Am I going to look back on this cancer experience and think, "I wish I'd have worked more?" A hero might, but I won't.

The Monday I return to work, I probably feel worse than I did the previous five days. I stop taking high doses of Prednisone, a steroid, on Saturday, and they say you go through a Red-Bull-like "crash" when you go off the steriods. So I usually work until three or so that Monday and Tuesday, drive home, hit the couch and don't get up for the rest of the night.

Then I'm kinda back to kinda normal until the next chemo treatment.

* * *

I have large diffuse B-cell lymphoma. I don't really worry about my lymphoma that much. I donated forty bucks at Anastasia's Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fundraiser at the Granfaloon six years ago, so I should be all set.

* * *

Chemo has been fine. I show up to the hospital, sit in a recliner, and watch TV and DVDs for the five hours or so it takes to drip the drugs through my IV.

I have not had any nausea. I have not vomited a single time. But, probably because of the largest tumor's proximity to the sciatic nerve that runs down my right leg, I've been having pain in my tailbone and that leg.

Sunday I was on the couch watching football, and I was mad because the game was boring and that score/commercial/kickoff & touchback/commercial combo is real shitstorm, and I was uncomfortable sitting, and uncomfortable laying down, and earlier in the day it hurt walking around the grocery store. My toes had been spasming - as you saw in the previous post - and now it's my calf muscles spasming, and somehow it's making the ball of my foot very tender and I shuffle around like I have a sprained ankle.

So it's hurt to sit, stand, walk, and lay down. Sleeping is complicated.

And in the scheme of cancer symptoms, that is next to nothing. But I am frustrated, even if the doctors think it will work itself out.

* * *

I was prescribed valium for the muscle spasms but they didn't work. Speaking of drugs that didn't work and that you could purchase from me for a very reasonable price...

Before treatment, I had some rough insomnia. Looking back, I can't believe those nights. How can you not get to sleep, and then it's the afternoon, and you still couldn't sleep if you wanted to? What IS THAT?!

I would be on the couch, with the TV on. That served two purposes: entertainment and time measurement. If I did happen to pass out for a bit, the TV could tell me how long I was out.

There is very poor programming on late at night. One night I watched a "CSI" where models were being killed by paint cans. Or something? And I fell asleep for about 15 minutes at the end. So I don't know who the Paint Can Prowler was.

I watched an entire episode of "The Dukes of Hazzard". I'm told it was my favorite show as a kid. I'll say this: the actors playing Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco were fucking COMMITTED. The effort they put into a scene involving a malfunctioning popcorn machine was nothing short of heroic. The episode was about mail fraud. Boss Hogg put an ad in a paper promising lots of land in a nonexistent part of Hazzard County. People mailed him a check. A sexy female postal inspector came to investigate, and the Duke boys wanted to bone her. She found evidence of the fraud that pointed to the elderly lady that ran the post office - she delivered the mail around the county on a fast motorcycle. Motorcylin' Granny! Comical. But the evidence was planted by Rosco, and the Dukes had to hide Granny while they convinced sexy inspector that Hogg was to blame. Granny really wanted to bone down on Uncle Jesse, much to his dismay. There were about three car chases.

I was really disappointed in the History Channel during my insomnia. I feel like they should be airing stock footage of blenders being manufactured during the wee hours, so some other Modern Marvel.

I was prescribed Ambien. I was told by those who had taken it before to get completely ready for bed, swallow the pill, and immediately jump in bed before I'm rendered unconscious. I did. I lay perfectly still, and started to feel the drug go to work. I felt like it was dragging my brain down. Down down down. Down toward sleepyland. Still moving down. Still have the feeling of my brain being pulled into the sleep abyss. Still trying not to move. still waiting to be unconscious. How long have I been being pulled down? I don't feel that pulled anymore. If I open my eyes it means the drug won't work and I'm screwed. But I have to move my body now it's been like this forever. Whoops, it's been an hour. I feel normal again. Very awake. Goddamnit.

The doctor said we could try Lunesta - it worked a little differently so maybe it would do the trick. The same thing happened. Bonus: it's not a generic drug yet, so Kim got to pay $100 or so at the pharmacy.

I've been asking around and I haven't found anyone else who has defeated Ambien and/or Lunesta.

* * *

Aside from one really good cry, not many tears. I did have several start-to-tear-up moments that did not materialize to full crying. Those episodes were triggered by:

The Jayhawks - "Smile"
Frightened Rabbit - "Foot Shooter"
The New Pornographers - "Go Places"
Benji Hughes - "Country Love"
The Antlers - "Putting the Dog to Sleep"
The opening minute of the Pod F. Tompkast (as previously documented)
The performances of Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg in "The Fighter"
Johnny Giavotella's family's reaction to his first major league home run
The "How I Met Your Mother" episode where they attend Marshall's dad's funeral

* * *

Chemo can cause peripheral neuropathy, or numbness in fingers and toes. Currently I have slight numbness in my fingers. I don't notice it much, but two days ago I was opening a bottle of medicine and got the lid off no prob but I couldn't pull the paper safety film thingy off. "Oh, so this is what it feels like to be one hundred years old," I thought.

* * *

I was mailed approximately forty cards in the few weeks the word got out about the cancer. My coworkers cooked me food and delivered it to my house, and some of them pooled some money and bought me an iPad. They bought me an iPad for my cancer. This gift was roughly four times as expensive as what the same group contributed for my wedding present. I took it back and used the cash to purchase most of my new Panasonic Viera plasma HD television.

People have been super nice to me, and looking back I try to remember when I did similar nice things, but I think I've just been the guy that calls people and talks to them.

* * *

When I'm crashing from the steroids, sometimes I notice I can't speak as quickly as usual. I'll be thinking of a word, and find it, and the process to move it from brain to mouth takes twice as long as usual. There's something called "chemo brain" that people talk about and maybe this is what it feels like. I hate it. I always thought that I would hate living somewhere I had to speak a foreign language, because even if I learned to speak that language I fear I wouldn't learn to be quick and witty in that tongue.

* * *

You would think that losing your hair would make it easier to pull the glasses off your head, but no. The bare scalp has more friction than hair. Lame.

* * *

For the past four weeks or so the only way to sleep well is on my couch, on my right side so there is pressure on my right leg and foot to keep them from tingling or spasming too much. I like my couch - sometimes I'd sleep on it for funsizies back in my single years - but it is a big official bummer to say goodnight to my wife and walk away from our bed and down the stairs to the couch.

And while I'm no longer having insomnia, I'm not getting great sleep. I get a solid seven hours, I think. I can't remember the last time I slept in. I'm really looking forward to staying unconscious for an obscene amount of hours someday soon.

* * *

I was looking forward to this "50/50" movie where Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets cancer and pals around with Seth Rogen, but then I got cancer and now I don't have hair and now I don't want to be the cancer guy watching the cancer movie. "Hey look this subject matter speaks to that hairless man," theatergoers would think and probably say out loud during the entire running time of the feature film.


hootenannie said...

Super bummed that you have to go through this.


This blog's title is probably the best one I've ever seen. Ever. In all the internet.

Hoping for better sleep for you, DN - that, and a complete recovery.

dn said...

I know, right? That title has been in my head since a few days after the diagnosis, when I cracked the lymphoma rhyming code.

Cara said...

Chemo brain IS real. And it fucking sucks. But your entries are still as great as ever.

M Ronsick said...

As for your insomnia and late night TV, I can relate on two levels.....1) experienced this when on high dose steroids myself....up doing odd things around the house all night long (pre-kids), frequently causing my husband to wake up not knowing what new project I may have started/finished, or how much money I spent doing online shopping.....2) post-kids, up with a baby most of the night.....you are spot on regarding the late night television selections....I have the fricking schedule memorized, and ended up buying a Swivel Sweeper based upon the informercial I saw at 3am. Let's just say that the "back saving elbow joint" isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
Enjoyed the post because of the way you have managed to inject humor into the situation. As I told you before....prayers your way.

Floyd said...

That's weird, about the scalp friction.

a-dub said...

Thanks for your $40 donation. Yep, you're good.