Friday, July 18, 2014

User's guide to taxotere

Here is a breakdown of my week with taxotere and the counter-side-effect drugs (e.g. steroids) as the only aggressors to my system.

Day 1 (infusion day):  My PICC line was removed about a week before the taxotere infusion, so the taxotere had to be infused via a vein in my hand.  That evening, my hand felt like there were tiny fireworks occasionally going off under the skin, always in different places.  I knitted for several hours that night to encourage whatever was causing the fireworks to flow with the blood out of my hand.  Next time I think I will ice my hand during the taxotere infusion, which will temporarily decrease the flow of blood to the hand and perhaps decrease the taxotere fireworks.  Also, the steroids kept me awake until 4 am, so knitting away fireworks was an excellent activity.

Day 2:  I felt deceptively awesome, and that's about all that I remember about Day 2.  I drank a lot of water to flush the drugs out of my system.  I kept eating, walking, and Doing Stuff, and my husband kept commenting on how awesome I was doing.  I walked to the clinic to get my Neulasta shot, then I napped all afternoon, then I helped with supper.  My probiotic regimen (serving of yogurt for breakfast or lunch, probiotic pill after dinner) started on this day.

Day 3:  I reached my functional peak when I awoke and made blueberry pancakes.  The crumminess started to set in after that.  My bones started to feel sore and oh so heavy.  My brain started to feel foggy.  Both ends of my guts were holding steady, no nausea or diarrhea, but these two things usually kick in on Taxotere Day 5.  Napping and resting became functional requirements on this day.

Day 4:  The slide down to the taxotere valley was in full swing.  Heaviness and fogginess, but I still ate food, went on a 2-block walk, and took a nap.  This day marked the beginning of the unsteadiness taxotere always brings.  It's not the same as dizziness or lightheadedness.  I call it "spinny".  The only cure for spinny-ness is time, although laying down helps prevent the spinny-ness from aggravating the nausea.  

Day 5 (Tuesday):  The taxotere valley.  Spinny, foggy, heavy, sore.  This day was marked by the crumminess reaching a depth from which complaints failed to emerge.  I've noticed this about myself--I can tell when I'm starting to feel better because I start to complain more about my woes to whomever is around.  When I'm feeling my worst I tend to complain less, making my feelings clear by closing my eyes and sleeping through it all.  The good news about this taxotere valley is that the nausea and diarrhea did not start up.  Perhaps my probiotic regimen is working?

Day 6:  The valley continued onto this day.  Also on this day, my taste buds started to get weird.  This is an inconvenience, but does not prevent me from eating.  Foods simply don't taste the way I think they should; this will persist for another week, then be better until my next treatment.    

Day 7:  The fog started to lift from the valley.  My mom could tell that I felt better just by looking at me.  All that ailed me was simply less.  Also, my secret weapon for Day 7 is a little being named Calvin.  Calvin is my newest nephew, and he was born three days after I started chemotherapy (March 7).  My sister has brought him up to hang out with me every Thursday after treatment.  He is a marvelous baby, never fussy, and a is glorious antidote to my ailments.  He and I lay around and chat for hours, then when it's time for my walk I push him in the stroller, which serves as a walker for me.  It's the best.
Calvin the Cure.  No pressure. 
This has nothing to do with this post, but he came to my chemo appointment last Friday and made everything better.  He's the best. 
Day 8 (today):  I think it's fair to say that I am already monumentally better.  At my appointment today, Dr. O said that my blood is good--I'm neither anemic or neutropenic.  I feel heavy, only a bit nauseous, and blah blah blah who cares because it is so good to feel decent!

Now I am entering the time when it's hard to strike the right balance between what I want to do and what I should do, because I still have a lot of resting and recovering to do.  Those three doses of FEC were crazy disruptive, giving me barely one good week out of every three.  Now it's looking like I'm going to get two solid good weeks out of every three.  Paradise!  Oh, and for all of you in-laws in the audience, Dr. O gave me permission to attend the family reunion next weekend--I can't wait to disseminate hugs!     

My last bit of good news is that today Dr. O told me that she won't have me get another PICC line installed.  Huzzah!  My former PICC line site is healing quite nicely but the skin is still swollen and discolored, perhaps from scar tissue.  I guess that my hand veins performed well enough last week that she thinks I can handle the remaining two (2!) doses of taxotere without a PICC line.  This is good news to me because although the PICC line was a wonderful tool to avoid getting pokes, it was inconvenient for Life and painful for my skin.      

And now I'm going to try my hand at some Science for an hour or two.  I hardly recognize myself from where I was a month ago.  This is wonderful.  


  1. Pespective is a powerful thing. 'only' dealing with the effects of taxotere. So glad you are feeling better :)

  2. So glad taxi is taking a back seat and letting HKA run things for awhile. I simply adore that pic of you and Calvin in the infusion room, I can't quit looking at it. I think you should make prints on magnets so we all can put one on our fridge to remember how good news and babies can bring such a beautiful smile no matter where we might be sitting. Oh and geez he's pretty cute too! Cant wait to see you soon!

  3. tears of joy. so glad you are feeling better. and as always, so grateful for the explanation of what is going on with what drug for what reason. you are the best!