Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Effects of Chemo

In the last post, late Friday night, June 13, after two days of chemotherapy, I had decided this chemotherapy thing wasn’t so bad. Basically, the process consists of going to the Infusion Therapy Dept. at appointment time, and being taken to a nicely appointed treatment room. The rooms are equipped with relatively comfortably beds, nice flat panel TV’s, and DVD players, with a comfortable chair for one caregiver. After starting up a movie, the nurse hooks up my chest catheter to the IV line and the chemotherapy chemicals begin to flow.

As you know, as of late Friday night, I really hadn’t felt any effects of chemotherapy. When I woke on Saturday morning, it was a different story altogether. I had come down with flu-like symptoms, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, fatigue, etc. You name the symptom, I had it. Needless to say, the next few days were little more than a blur. I really thought at the time that I was conscious and coherent. I realized later, maybe around Wednesday or Thursday that I was not. I spent most of Thursday and Friday catching up on the few days of my life that I had just missed. I returned telephone calls that I had missed, reread all of the blog comments, reread emails, and reviewed all of the mail that I had received. The mailbox at the apartment is full of cards every day. I must tell you, nothing lifts my spirits more than reading all of your cards, blog comments, and emails. I really wish that there was some way for me to acknowledge each one. Please know that each one is greatly appreciated.

Late Friday afternoon, June 20, I had developed a low grade fever. Fever, of course, is bad news for a chemo patient. Tylenol is off limits, because as a fever reducer, it masks the signs of infection. I have strict instructions with regard to monitoring fever, if it reaches 101˚F I must go straight to the Emergency Center. Friday evening, I was nearing 100˚F. Marissa stepped out for a moment to “make a phone call”, and returned to the apartment with a group of my friends from Tennessee. Chad Dunivant and his wife Jessica, and Chris Chandler and his wife Amanda had made the 13 hour drive to visit. The whole weekend had been planned without me. I was completely caught off guard when they walked through the door. It could not have been a better surprise. Over the next few hours my fever had dropped. I even felt good enough later in the evening to go to their hotel room and visit for a couple hours.

After returning back to the apartment for my nightly medicine regimen, I turned in around midnight. I managed to get a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep. Around 3:30 am I woke with a fever. It had returned, this time a little more severe. I lied in bed for a while, wondering what to do, wanting to go back to sleep. I decided that I should wake Marissa and check it out. The thermometer read 101.3˚F. I guess this meant another trip to the Emergency Center. At least this time I wasn’t going in for unbearable pain. We ended up staying in the EC for about 8 hours. During my EC stay, my fever reached nearly 103˚F. They got my fever under control with Tylenol, gave me a few antibiotics through my IV, and prescribed me a whole host of new medications to take home to treat any infections I may have as well as to treat the thrush I was also diagnosed with. Thrush is an infection that lives in the mouth and throat and that is painful all the way down the chest into the esophagus. It can be caused by oral antibiotics, which of course for me at this time are plentiful. They also took some blood and urine cultures to check for infection. The cultures, they said, would take 48 hours for results. The antibiotics were precautionary.

After getting out of the EC around lunch on Saturday, I spent the rest of the day sweating out my fever. My visitors were able to come to the apartment Saturday evening and watch a movie. I just didn’t feel up to doing much more. Sunday morning turned out to be a different story. I woke up feeling good. I had a few appointments to make at MDA in the morning, but I was able to meet my friends around lunch and spend the rest of the day exploring Houston. We ate lunch at Chili’s, where I decided to splurge and order a kid’s ribs and fries meal. This was the most I had been able to eat since the chemo. After lunch, we went to Houston’s Museum of Natural Science. We saw exhibits on geology, dinosaurs, and Leonardo da Vinci. We also were able to catch an IMAX movie on the Grand Canyon. I was definitely feeling good on Sunday, and I was able to take advantage. The day ended with an Italian dinner at Prima Pasta around 10pm. I was completely exhausted, but in a good way.

My friends left Monday morning around 9:30 am after meeting me at the hospital for a quick tour and breakfast. Having them come and visit was definitely medicine for my soul and a terrific surprise. They did not get home until midnight on Monday, and they all had to be up bright and early Tuesday morning to get back to work. I cannot express to them how much their visit meant to me. The rest of the day I had a quick follow up appointment in the EC where I was told my white blood cells were back to normal. On Saturday they were at 0.6, Sunday they were slightly higher at 2.3 and on Monday they were at 10.2. The normal white blood cell count is 10, so everything is back on track with me regaining my strength and immune system, much quicker than expected. I guess that is just the healthy 25 year old in me making that rebound.

Tuesday was another great day for me. I did not have any appointments so the entire day was mine to enjoy. The nurse practitioner called me for a follow up consultation on the phone. My blood and urine cultures came back, and they were both normal with no signs of infection. I count my blessings and rejoice for each good day I have and all the good news I receive.

That brings us to today, Wednesday, June 25. I had an early appointment for lab work this morning, but we did not quite make it there on time. I woke up and took my shower with a full head of hair only to step out and notice that in that span of twenty minutes most of my hair had fallen out. Rather than leave the house with only small patches of hair I had my mom shave my head quickly before my appointment. I knew losing my hair was part of the process, and I suspect in a few days the rest will be gone. After my lab work I was met at the apartment door by the FedEx delivery man. Again, I found myself surprised. My coworkers at Gwinnett Sprinkler all pitched in to replace my IPOD after reading that it had been stolen out of our car. So not only do I have an IPOD again, but this new one is even better than the one that was stolen. This afternoon I have another follow up call with the nurse practitioner in the ER. Friday is my last follow up appointment with the Emergency Center for my neutropenic pathway (this is MD Anderson’s special program for monitoring patients with low blood counts). I am feeling well enough to get out and enjoy my free time. This is the best I have felt in a long time as I am pain free and able to walk on my own without my wheelchair. Walking is great exercise for me. The weather is so hot here that we usually try to avoid outdoor activities and today I think we will visit the local mall for the first time.

I have received countless calls inquiring on the status of my posts. I am astounded by the number of people who check my blog numerous times throughout the day and I apologize for the delays, but as always I remain grateful for the prayers and support.

***Happy Birthday to Meaghan, June 25, we wish we could be there to celebrate with you, but we hope you have an awesome day and we love and miss you!!

20 comments:

  1. Hey Bradley, it's good to hear that friends are brightening your spirit. There is absolutely nothing better!!!

    The effects of chemo can be very unpredictable, so you kinda have to stay on alert. All I can say is, it seems like everyone on this kind of protocol bounces around A LOT! It is amazing what the body can do. But don't get complacent, you have to take each scare seriously. With hope, always hope, but the right amount of concern too.

    Some people find that the more chemo they have, the more effects they have. Surprisingly enough, that doesn't happen to everyone. You're doing great - so keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glad you were able to update your blog! Many of my friends ask about updates. Glad you got a new IPod! You have a lot of people who love and and care about you and, most importantly, are praying for you! Love, mom

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi guys!
    I am so glad you are feeling better. I hate that you had such a rough week last week. We are constantly thinking and praying for you. You are doing such a great job with these posts. You guys seem to have a ton of support from friends and family - what a blessing to have so many people in your corner! I hope you continue to feel as good as you have the past few days.

    Love,
    Kim Morrison

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bradley & Marissa, Please know that you are in our constant thoughts and prayers. I don't think there is a church in our county that isn't praying for a miraculous healing. Your posts make my day. You have such an awesome, upbeat attitude. After working for Dr. Walsh, who in an oncologist in Memphis, that comes to Dyersburg once a week; I have indeed witnessed how that attitude is such a "LARGE" part of your healing. With your loving family and friends and Christian people praying for you; and surrounding you with love; I have a very good feeling that you will have good results. You are very special to share your posts and feelings with all of us; and I must say I enjoy getting the updates. So thanks to you and Marissa. I'm so glad that your Mom and Dad are there with ya'll. Have a great week; and share that smile and attitude with all you meet. I will always be interested in you and what's going on in your life. Mrs. Kathy
    Clements ( YOur preschool Sunday School Teacher. )

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey Bradley and Marissa! Just got back from dinner tonight and so glad to have a new post to read! Thanks for my Birthday Shout Out-I feel like I have been recognized by a celebrity! I am so glad you have had some good pain free days which I'm sure was good for body and soul. How nice of your friends to visit-I know that meant the world to you and it is obvious you have an abundant amount of people who love you and are praying for you. I think Jack is waiting for your return to sprout a tooth! He will be 9 months in 5 days and each day is a new adventure. We all miss you more than I can express with words and we can't wait to see you again.
    Love and prayers,
    Meaghan and Jack

    ReplyDelete
  6. hi i am so very happy to here that you are feeling better but i tell you what i wont be washing my hair in that texas water i am glad that youll can get out and enjoy some stuff gather up your strengh for the next round and before you know it it will be over always remember we are all praying for you and marissa and bill and paula your in our thoughts all the day long lots of people are praying for your recovery GODis our strengh and our refuge the rocr in which we can lay all of our troubles on and he wants us too sometimes that is not easy we want to fix it on our own and we cant love all of you take care mimi and widdis

    ReplyDelete
  7. Glad to hear you are feeling better. It has been hot here as well with little to no rain. Ash has been spending a lot of time in the pool becuase she is getting pretty big and miserable. Owen is loving the pool and even jumps off the diving board by himself. We are thinking and praying for you.

    Maison, Ashleigh & Owen

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey Bradley and Marissa!

    Glad to hear that you guys are doing better. We are so thankful, Bradley, that you are feeling better and are able to get out and about more often. :) We think and pray about you both every day. Take care!

    Love,
    Jenny and Steve

    ReplyDelete
  9. David & BeverlyJune 26, 2008 at 9:52 AM

    It was good to read the latest news. Your spirit is a tremendous testimony of God's presence in your life as you go through this time. In case you are not aware, Beverly is serving as pastor of four churches, and all of the congregations are uplifting you in prayer. At every service, and throughout each day, prayer warriors are uplifting you, your family and your medical team in prayer. As witnessed on the blog, from across the nation we are joining together expecting a miracle. May God's greatest blessings flow in and through you. We love you.

    Blessings & prayers,
    David & Beverly

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hey Bradley! Just read your most recent post. SOOOOO, glad to hear that you've been having some good days! We are praying for you and thinking of you!!! I know God will continue to bless you with these wonderful days! Take care, and God Bless!

    -valerie and richie fowlkes

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hello,
    It is really great to hear that you had some fun over the weekend! I'm sure it is nice to enjoy some good food again too. Thanks so much for the update, we are constantly thinking of you! Keep up your positive attitude it can get you through anything.
    We are praying for you daily!
    Love,
    Maison, Ashleigh & Owen

    ReplyDelete
  12. Good Morning! Another hot one in TN!Just got back from taking the dogs for their early morning walk. We have to go and work on Gary's house today. I am the official wallpaper stripper. Ugh! We will leave tomorrow morning (early) to begin work on your house. It will be like one of those HGTV programs when you walk in the door! Have a good day! Love and prayers! Mom

    ReplyDelete
  13. Dear Bradley,
    It is so good to hear that you're feeling better, chemo and all! I thank you so much for keeping us all informed of your progress. You are young, and with your positive attitude, friends and family there to support you, you are truly blessed. I look forward to meeting you and Marissa one day. I pray for your continued health and healing.
    Have a great day!
    Ellen (Stacey Adams' mom)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hey Bradley & Marissa,

    It's really great to see a new post. I'm sorry to hear that the chemo was making you sick, but I'm really glad that you are getting some relief and having some fun - and even eating some tasty ribs!!

    That's really cool about the ipod. So many people are thinking about you both all the time. You can definitely count Jesse and me in that crowd.

    I'm also glad to hear that you like the books. We just got a PS3 and I'm addicted to the soduku (sp?) game. I'd never played before and now it's all I want to do. (Maybe I'm a bit of a dork... :-))

    Looking forward to your next post!
    xoxo- Helen & Jesse

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hey, Bradley. Mom gave me your and Marissa's blog to keep updated on all your going through. Glad you have an outlet to keep in touch with all those near and far who are thinking of and praying for you. You and your family have been on my mind so much recently, and I hope you know how many people are lifting you up and claiming God's mercies for your health.
    I really enjoyed ready over your blog. It has been a while since we've seen each other, and I didn't even know you were living in Georgia. My husband and I moved back to Jackson, TN from Knoxville and are enjoying the adjustment and being closer to family and friends. I'm working as a nurse practitioner, and although oncology is not my specialty, if I can ever be of help in any way please don't hesitate to contact me. I know you have a great healthcare team, and I also pray for them as they give you the best treatments available.
    It is good to hear you are having some brighter days amidst those that aren't so great. Chemo is no easy matter, but a strong body, determined mind, and Godly strength can get you through anything. Keep your faith, hope, and spirits up (as I know you will) and again know you're in my constant thoughts and prayers.
    I'll keep checking on you through your blog when you get a chance to write. Hope your parents are doing well. Tell them I said hi. I'm glad they are able to be there with you. Keep up the good fight.
    God bless you- Elizabeth Ross Graves

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi! Got home ok and the dogs were very good. Paddington did not bark at all. Very hot here. Lots of boats and jet skis out today. Wish you were here! Your house looks amazing! I am very excited about you seeing it! Also, there is a bosnian man in your neighborhood who is very willing to do any type of work. He is the man who cleaned your gutters. Chemo at the hospital is almost over. You are always in my thoughts and prayers! Love, mom

    ReplyDelete
  17. Good morning - I have been out walking the dogs already. Looks like another warm day. Hope you have a good morning. Now that you are done with chemo Bradley, the rest of the week should be a breeze. Love and prayers! Mom

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi! Glad your chemo is over with. Hope you can relax and enjoy the rest of the week. It is still very warm here. Wednesday I am going to the Amish market with Phyllis and Doris. I am anxious to see what it is like. Remember that Diane's in Amherst where we used to eat and saw a lot of Amish people? Thursday I am going to go shopping and to the movies with my friend Kathy. Have a good evening, Love, Mom

    ReplyDelete
  19. Remember we are all praying for Bradley. We are praying for you also Marissa. Hope you can both get a good nights sleep. I will let you know if I convert and become Amish! Love, mom

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Did not want you to think that I forgot about you today. Hot here - Paddington went for his swim. Tomorrow I will go and help Gary at his house. We are meeting Marc and the girls at I Hop for breakfast. Ashlee gets home from camp tomorrow. She was at 4 H camp with Faith. Tomorrow night we will go out for dinner for my birthday. Love, mom Glad you had a fun day today!

    ReplyDelete