Update: Radiation; DONE: Chemo; DELAYED

Today should have been the day that the final Cisplatin chemo dose was administered. Well, it didn’t happen.

Yesterday, when they did the pre-treatment blood work, it was discovered that I have not come back far enough in my blood counts: I’m sitting at 1.2 and they really want me much closer to 2.0 (2.2 being where we were at the first chemo, but admittedly at only 1.5 when they did the second chemo treatment). It will come back… we just need time and some dietary help. When they normally give chemo, they work to a 21 day cycle that has a number of milestones built into it. For instance, they will assume that your immune system is at its lowest ebb between days 7 and 14. What this latest blood work shows is that after my last chemo, that ‘day 14’ stretched out much longer than expected.

The doctors will take more blood next Monday and determine if we can start the chemo on the following day. And yes, there is always some concern that you can’t wait too long between chemo sessions. If my blood levels are not up to where they want them on Monday, I’m not really sure what they’ll do.

The depressing part of this is that I won’t be able to return to work on my timetable. I really wanted to be back by the first of April. Delaying the chem will delay the return to work. And then there is the sidebar issue of which doctor actually gets to say when I get to go back to work and what the rules are. My HR contact at my employer has pointed out that I don’t get to choose; the doctor must. Oh, bloody hell.

But the good news is that the radiation therapy is now finished! WhooHoo! We are still treating for dehydration (I get a bag of fluids each morning for the rest of the week), but that really is minor. The inside of my mouth has some sores from the radiation, and I do have difficulty swallowing, but my appetite is definitely coming back. It may be all ‘in my head’, but at the beginning of this week, I started showing some interest in food, coincidental with this being the end of radiation? Or was it the end of the 21 day chemo cycle? P & A snuck a Wendy’s burger in to Gail the other evening while I was dozing; not only could I smell it, I actually dreamt about it. Good sign, eh? I’m not eating a lot yet (I suspect my stomach has shrunken a bit). Desire to taste, to eat is the really important part of the puzzle. I’ve worked my way through chicken broth, chicken and rice soup (with wild rice that was a bit too much with that ‘nutty’ taste it has), and we’ve got a miso soup on standby. Stuff that I really want to try still tastes like old boots. And my throat is sooooo sore if I swallow just the wrong way. So we go with what we can, when we can. We’re still not getting up to the caloric or protein counts that the team at the Cross wants, but we will work up to it. Patience… patience. Notice that I keep saying ‘we’? That’s because Gail is being really good at bullying me into trying this stuff. I made an oblique remark about Popsicles. She immediately ran out and got me real fruit flavoured DelMonte popsicles and a ‘made-with-real-fruit’ gelato/sorbet. Both taste absolutely atrocious. We probably should have just gone with the ‘Popsicle‘ brand of frozen, coloured waters and left it at that. Just can’t seem to win on all fronts at once…

We’re planning an outing to ‘Planet Organic’ to investigate protein sources. I’m sure that they’ll just love the pale blue protective safety mask I’ll be wearing walking through the door… well, except that the stores do have the reputation for catering to the lunatic fringe, so maybe they’re used to never seeing some of their patron’s faces.

The thick saliva is still challenging, but not necessarily an overriding consideration. For some reason, my gag reflex seems to have calmed substantially, enabling me to keep far more food and meal replacements down. Again, is this part of the 21 day chemo cycle, or just general healing all around? And a friend of my father’s suggested using Tonic Water (no gin!) for swishing/gargling to break down the saliva; damn, but it actually works. I shared this newer strategy with Dr. Jha… he’ll get some other patients to try it out to see what happens. I will be much happier once the thick saliva stage goes away, if it does go away. Some patients get stuck with it forever. Now, won’t that compromise my presentations! I’m sure my employers are going to be really happy with a case of Tonic water stored under my desk, or the bottle of Tonic water on the meeting room table when visiting client sites.

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