Chemo postponed

Blood tests revealed a drop in my white blood cell and neutrophil counts over the weekend. So, they are waiting to start the consolidation until those numbers bump back up (perhaps on Wednesday). I suppose if they continue to go down, there will be much furling of brows and scratching of chins since, in theory, I should be well on my way to increased bone marrow activity. On the other hand, apparently this is not much to be worried about, just another lesson in patience, another “bump in the road.” However, when told not to worry as many times as we have been told, it’s hard not to start wondering if they are just saying it as opposed to really meaning it. But, in the end, not worrying is the best thing to do… I mean, we all like to keep our sanity, right?

Looking at the bright side, today will sort of be a free day. No harsh drugs coursing through my body = feeling pretty good. So, on that note, I’ll leave you with another image of the lovely things around me that gently nudge me away from worry.


(Judging by all the floral pictures I’ve taken, it’s probably a good thing I’m not going through this in the dead of winter.)

Gearing up for consolidation round #2

Met with the oncologist on Friday, and even though my body is still taking its time to get the white blood count up, he thought I was ready to start my second round of consolidation on Monday. So, what do you do to prepare for another round of chemotherapy? You do whatever you can to enjoy the days leading up to it, because chances are it’s going to suck (I think that’s actual medical terminology) again.

So, we did what any normal couple would do on a beautiful summer Sunday. We prepared a picnic and headed for the park.

Picnic at the Park

Picnic at the Park

After a hearty lunch, a chapter or two and a leisure stroll back to the car, we stopped at the Birchwood for treats (key lime pie for me, carrot cake for Virginia) and iced coffee.

Back at home, the afternoon was still beckoning us to stay outdoors, so we sat out on the deck and created some scratchcrafty goodness (for those new to this blog, that’s typically spinning and knitting around here).

Virginia Knitting

Superwash Colonnial

Note about the yarn: The spinning of this yarn was interrupted back in March, but I decided to take advantage of feeling energized and finish it up today. This is a skein of 3-ply superwash colonnial wool, spun from about 3 oz. of dyed top, totaling 330 yards. Surprisingly, I was able to keep it the same wpi’s as when I first started. Some skills don’t get rusty, even with cancer.

Speaking of which… nah, I’ll stop talking about that for now and just enjoy the rest of the evening. I think there’s probably some more spinning on tap and an episode or two of The Avengers.

On having tubes

I think I’m allowed to gripe a little (obviously, since this is my blog, I can gripe all I want, but there remains a fine balance of not turning away those who wish to follow this journey with me by griping all the time — that can get old).

There are certain things about having cancer that can really put a damper on activities that one normally enjoys (OK, that’s a bit of an understatement). Take for instance, bathing. For the past three months I have not had a complete soak in the tub. Sure, I can sit and splash and sort of soak. But, as one nurse referred to bathing with a hickman, “It’s like taking a bird bath.” To get an idea of what I’m up against every time I try to get clean, here’s a photo:

(Word of warning – it’s not a pretty picture, but nothing about having tubes sticking out of your body is pretty).

Hickman Line

There are obvious advantages to having direct access to one’s blood stream. For one, every time I have blood work drawn (two or three times a week), I don’t have to get pricked. The same goes for medications, I.V.s and blood transfusions. Pain medication is especially effective when administered this way. I found that out real fast when given Demerol and Dilaudid at different points during my hospitalizations… “Ummm, I’ll have some more of that, please.” (Just kidding). But, that’s about it.

Ah, but to be able to submerge myself to the neck and take a nice long soak… I believe that will be the first thing I’ll do when this is all over with.

With the flow

After a couple of successful injections of G-CSF (thank you, Virginia for the shots, and thank you, modern medicine, for powerfully effective drugs), my white blood counts jumped from a meager 1.5 k/ul to a whopping 12.6 (the normal range being between 4 and 11) practically overnight. I felt pretty invincible over the weekend, with more infection fighting cells in my body than I have had in a really long time. But, like the saying goes, all good things must eventually come to an end.

My white count is back to where it’s typically been… 2.0 k/ul. So, I’m back to plugging along, letting my bone marrow do the hard work without the help of growth factors. I’m good with it, even if it means more of a delay before being able to start my second round of consolidation. In fact, it reminds me of a beetle I observed while sitting outside the other day.


It was walking across the long expanse of our patio table with a dogged determination (being especially patient once I started to get involved and forced it to stop for a photo). It just kept on walking, destination unknown to me, and perhaps unimportant… just kept walking, pushing forward.

So, we, too, learn to just go with the flow, moving forward. No amount of stress, mental bending or finger crossing is going to make my bone marrow do anything other than what it is going to do.

Activities for this week include an echocardiogram on Thursday (make sure the chemotherapy hasn’t done any permanent damage to my heart), an EKG on Friday, and a scheduling appointment with the oncologist to determine the start date of my last (keeping my fingers crossed, despite what I just talked about — habits are hard to break) round of consolidation.