Hi everyone! How are you doing? I’m really happy to write to you today, since I have almost overcome the equator of the initial phase of the treatment. Today I’ll tell you how the first day of the chemo cycles is like, so that you have an idea about how tough it is.
Most of ICO’s oncology patients can have the chemo in an ambulatory basis, so that they can sleep at home. But this is not for me. My case is a little bit particular because every session in one cycle lasts about 12 hours. I consider it’s worth it explaining all of this here, so… there we go!
Monday January 30, day 75. I woke up early as usual, those who know me know that this is not a big issue for me. At around 7:30 a.m., I went to ICO for my every-third-week blood test. I got a shot in the arm and three blood tubes (Vacutainers) were extracted. Once I had also given an urine sample, we left for breakfast at ICO’s cafeteria. The appointment with the doctor normally oscillates between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., but since we are forced to wait for the blood test results anyway, we stayed there killing time.
Once I’m seen by the doctor, if the results are appropriated, the admission process is started that same Monday. However, the hospitalization doesn’t take place earlier than 4 p.m., so that the treatment doesn’t start until 6 p.m. What if you count the number of hours? Every session lasts half a day (12 hours), and that means that it will finish by 6 a.m. next day. And then, of course, all the posterior sessions are out of sync, I cannot sleep during two nights in a row and I even have to stay an extra night in the hospital.
This last time I wanted to change something in order to improve, so I told my doctor one week earlier if we could have the appointment on January 30 and the hospitalization the following day. That way I would be able to start the session in the morning and finish not so late. Despite this, I got backfired because on Tuesday I wasn’t admitted until 4 p.m. …
I couldn’t do much about it: I couldn’t be admitted until there’s a free bed for me… To sum up, I had to suffer another night cycle – and that’s the third one in a row. But, looking at the bright side and thanks to this tantrum – once again “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”- ICO’s personnel came up with an awesome solution: next time I’ll be admitted again the day after the doctor’s appointment. However, I’d start the treatment in the ambulatory area and later, when a bed becomes available, I’d be able be hospitalized and finish what would be left, before the nighttime. Finally I’ll be able to rest properly!
Leaving all the bureaucracy aside, let’s talk about something more interesting. In this cycle the etoposide dose was lowered again 20%. Apparently its toxicity is quite high -I believe that firmly-, and in the treatment protocol up to two dose reductions are allowed before its total removal from the treatment provided that the neutropenias persist. To be frank, after every cycle I feel less worse -which is unfortunately not the same as much better- and the hangover effects last less days. I’m very happy about that, because this means that I can enjoy more time in between cycles and make these silly things I love so much -see the lower Figure-.
Besides that, I have retaken the salt baths at my parents bathtub -percutaneous osmosis-. As I told you some months before, I had to stop them because the lack of oxygen was making me collapse. Now, feeling much better, I stay about one hour in hot water and 2 kg of salt. Relaxing more than ever while knowing that this is helping to alkalize my body.
So far, that’s all folks! Once again I’d like to thank friends, colleagues and other people who have restarted or made for the first time a blood donation. A friend of mine who’s gonna become father soon suggested me to make the compatibility tests for the umbilical cord – stem cells- of his future newborn. It’s a very beautiful, generous and friendly action, but unfortunately for me that won’t be useful. There are some other people in the world, among them leukemia patients, who might need this life gift. Thank you very much, Víctor!
Oh yeah! I almost forgot! Thanks to all of the people contributing to the Alba Pérez Foundation. Welcome everybody!
Eventually, I’d like to thank my nurses and assistants at ICO: Ernest, Pol, María, Nuri, Cristina and the staff nurse Sonia, for helping me finding a solution to my schedule problem. I feel really sorry for the doctors, but if you’d like to be mentioned in here more often, you should tell me slowly your first names instead of quickly your family names.