Forget that old cliche. Misery doesn’t love company. Misery prefers to pull the covers over its head and lay, trembling, in the dark.
The last couple of weeks have taught us that.
Funny how failing to register a few words can lead to undreamt-of consequences. But that’s what happened.
During a pre-chemo class at Kaiser, the nurse-instructor mentioned that one of the potential consequences of throwing toxic chemicals at cancer inside your body is constipation. Therefore, she said, we needed to take a nightly sip of laxative.
Well, guess whose ears failed to make proper registration?
You can guess what happened [or didn’t, really] between 10 January —the second day after our first chemo session [the hefty one/two cisplatin/gemcitabine hydrochloride regimen that constitutes four of our twelve scheduled sessions] — and Friday night [19 January] in the Kaiser Oakland emergency room.
We called the medical advice line over the weekend of the 12th/13th after the constipation became painful and disabling, to be told to take an over-the-counter laxative brand, suppository to start, pills after. No results. And during our second chemo session [gemcitabine hydrochloride only] on the 15th, we told an oncologist that we were in considerable pain [also evident by grimaces and groans], only to be told to take another OTC laxative at night. No luck.
We spent a total of nine days abed because the pain of sitting was too intense and walking any distance was simply impossible.
The crisis came Friday, when we called our regular internist’s office, and were told to go to the ER post haste.
Friday night, in a five-hour ER session, the cork came out of the bottle. The contents have been coming ever since.
Tuesday’s our third chemo session [gemcitabine hydrochloride only], followed by one week off, then the whole cycle starts again with the double whammy and two more gemcitabine hydrochloride only sessions. There are four cycles altogether.
One thing we’ve learned to date is that chemotherapy is a case where you want as many people involved as possible.
The problem is, that’s not what you feel like doing when your thinking is clouded by constant pain and the kind of mental fugue that accompanies severe constipation.
Fortunately, some friends are organizing a telephone brigade to make sure I get a daily morning check-in call, which should help provide the kind of spur to action that was missing in our recent ordeal.
My internist [GP in Boomer-speak] is a key player I’m glad to see involved. He ordered a blood test that show some alarming numbers that weren’t revealed in any of the tests ordered by the oncologist, who is focused on electrolytes.
The numbers pertain to kidney function, and they don’t look good.
Meanwhile, to get an idea of just how potent these chemicals are, tale a look at this link sent me my reader Luce Kanon.