Thursday, December 18, 2008
I slept pretty well last night; fitfully, but relatively pain-free. When I woke up at 3am I needed to do something to get me back to sleep, so I got up and washed dishes!
By morning, however, the picture had changed dramatically. When my ex called to check on me, as he does every day, I was in a bit more pain, and my energy was so low I could barely move to get to the phone. A couple of phone calls to the doctor, and it became apparent I needed to see her, probably to address a recurrence of anemia.
Fortunately, Thursday is his day off, so my ex drove me to the city for blood tests and appropriate treatment. The lab numbers came as a surprise: No anemia and most counts as good as could be expected. But I was in a lot of pain by that point, and let me tell you: Fighting pain is exhausting!
There are other things going on, of course; I’m taking a huge number of drugs, each with its own influence on blood counts. The juggling act becomes complicated in that some of the drugs make me groggy to the point where I lose track of what I’ve taken.
My doctor, who’d just seen a patient with severe respiratory disorders from Gleevec, didn’t want me to also reach that state; she brought her intuition and recent experience to bear and said, “I think it may be a toxic reaction to Gleevec. I want you to go off it for a couple of days.”
She saw the panic in my eyes. “Not permanently; we may need to adjust the dose down. Every patient is different, and we have to find the correct level and schedule.”
In the meantime, we also need to get the pain under control. She wants me to be pain-free nearly the whole day, not just the four-to-six hours I’m now experiencing, and not just while I'm sleeping; then we can start cutting back on pain meds to where I’m not so dependent on them. And all this takes time, since changing too many variables at once calls reactions into question.
I left the Cancer Center with a couple more prescriptions, a huge checklist of drug doses and scheduled times, to keep my intake organized, and a lot of advice about how to handle situations like “breakthrough pain” and nausea.
On a more personal note, I’ve been trying to keep this blog up-to-date. In addition to keeping friends informed, it helps me to achieve organization and continuity. But it’s very difficult. The physical and energetic swings come fast and furious, and there are days, even if I can get out of bed, I can’t sit up and rouse my focus long enough to get something written. Tonight, I’m feeling a bit better, but am plagued by nausea and vomiting.
Tomorrow is another day.