Wednesday, July 4, 2018

On to round 3

It seemed to take forever, but my white blood cell counts finally rebounded enough that we could finish round 2 of the chemo.  It's supposed to be a 21 day cycle, with treatments on days 1 and 8, but my day 8 treatment didn't happen until day 20 in the second round.

Even then, my white blood cell counts, although high enough to give me the treatment, were still less than 10% of normal.  So, the third cycle was delayed by an additional week and it's scheduled to start on Friday.

The second round ended up taking a lot out of me.  I'm going to see if there's any way to use Neulasta or Neupogen to speed along my immune system recovery in this next round.  I don't want all of the rounds stretching out to 4 weeks.

By adding a week to the process, it now means that all of the concerts I have tickets for in July happen on the same weekend as Day 1 of the chemo cycle.  This is when I feel the worst from the chemo, although the "down period" from the Day 1 treatment lasted a full 10 days in this past round.  I also went 22 days without going to the gym - something I really hate.  In July, I'm hopeful that I'll feel OK at all the concerts (4 total) that I'm going to see.  My biggest concern is three straight days of shows at the end of the month - a Thursday night (we will likely do chemo that day), and then Friday and Saturday in Camden, NJ.

So, on Friday, I will talk to the doctor about options to keep my immune system functioning at its best as we start this next round.

I have to admit that work has really been a challenge, and I'm guessing it showed to some extent.  I met with my boss yesterday, and she is going to temporarily take a few projects off my plate.  She warned me that she still had high expectations for my work, but she wanted to reduce my stress level a little bit as I go through the rest of chemo.

In some ways, I'm thrilled.  I have felt like I'm drowning at work and I can never catch up.  I'm still going to have a lot to do, but it's going to be more of what I was hired to do and less of the project work that was outside my core skill set.

On the other hand, I worry a bit that the work was removed from my plate because I wasn't doing it well enough.  Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a perfectionist about the work I do, and I'm my own harshest critic.  Although, and I say this with no ill will at all, my current boss is also a tough critic and she has high expectations.  I'm hopeful that the work that was removed from my plate was removed for the reasons stated, and not because I was doing a poor job at some of it.  But I'll probably never know for sure.

My primary goal now is to excel at the core work I was hired to do, and then, in a few months, I'll hopefully be feeling better and I'll ask to be re-assigned some of the project work that was taken away earlier this week.

In the interim, life is simple.  Work hard and do a good job at work.  Reduce my stress levels a bit and get my treatments done.  Try to have fun with my concerts, the gym, and some fly fishing.  And, hope that the chemo is doing its job so that I can enter a period of no treatments later this summer.  Or, at the very least, hope that I'll continue with just one of the current chemo agents - the one with very few side effects.

And, I have to hope that my immune system can handle the treatments.  Apparently, every time I have had a cytotoxic chemo in the past, it has done a little bit of damage to my bone marrow.  Over time, the bone marrow simply doesn't work as well after the beatings it's taken, and the risk of neutropenia goes up with repeated treatments.  Hopefully, we can find a way to avoid that issue in this next round and in the future.  The last thing I need is to be hospitalized with some sort of opportunistic infection.  I trust that my docs are doing everything that they can for me, but I'd prefer to see them a little bit less often, if possible.  Being hospitalized for an infection would mean seeing them more, not less.