Sunday, August 28, 2011


No posts for a few days boys and girls.


Close of day two. I've had one batch of cytotoxins, with two more to go. The really nasty one, Taxol or Paclitaxel, is for tomorrow morning, but there has been a complication and things have not gone as easily as hoped.

On the first cycle, it was determined that I have "difficult" veins. They poked around in the back of my hand and arm five times to try to get an IV in there but failed (with lots of lovely bruises to show for it) so it was decided that I would have a PICC line. At first, I think they expected not to do a third cycle of chemo, so it was assumed that the PICC would only have to be in place for a month, which is the normal limit. But it has been there now for over two months, and this extension has probably added to the problem.

The first day is always a whole load of saline solution mixed with anti-histamines, vitamins, minerals and various drugs to protect my insides while the vicious cytotoxins go in later and start destroying every fast-growing cell in my body. If I just had the chemo drugs alone, I would be having liver and kidney failure and might have a violent reaction to the drugs, which can result in seizures or coma. So they are very careful, filling you up with anti-emetics and other protective things.

But the inflammation, with some pain, started about half way through the prophylactic stage. I had an ultrasound to rule out veinous thrombosis, but by the time I'd finished it the first cytotoxin, Cisplatin, was causing a lot of pain and some of it refusing to go in but dripping out, soaking the bandage and running down my arm...and these are some pretty expensive drugs!

They're worried about having the same problem with the Taxol, which is extremely toxic, so much that you are not supposed to get any of it on your skin. So they're getting a PICC specialist to see me tomorrow. It seems that my veins are just tired of having all that tubing stuck up them and then having all these toxic chemicals poured in on top. Understandable, I think. I feel the same way.

So there we are. That was the first two days. If all goes well, I'll be here for another day and a half, more if there are more problems. Keep your fingers crossed (if you're a pagan. If you're a Christian, I suppose you could pray.)

Feeling OK in general though, in my head at least, but somewhat delicate. I explained that I didn't want any dinner by roughly saying, "eating is vomiting," "mangiare e vomitare," which is terrible Italian but seemed to get the message across. They have me on a drug that is meant to protect my brain from the chemo so it's kind of important. It was being given in the form of a big tablet that dissolved in water which you drink, (a big fave of Italians with all sorts of drugs) but after two today, I had to tell them that if I had one more, it was going to bounce out of my stomach like it was hitting a trampoline. We've switched to shots instead and I've discovered that pain is greatly to be preferred to nausea. Pain is small, localised and short-lived. Nausea takes over your whole world.

Played cards all afternoon, re-learning after about 30 years how to play Gin Rummy. Got pants whipped by a slip of a girl.

More later.


Well, they came in this morning and said the PICC just isn't working any more and gave me a new IV in my left arm, which is now more or less immobilised. Can't bend the elbow more than an inch or two (so am typing with one hand). That will keep things going for the morning, but before they start the next batch of cytotoxins, I have to have a new PICC line installed surgically, a rather unpleasant but short procedure that will make the rest of thing go much more smoothly.


Home. All tubes removed.

V. v. sick, but home.

Home is best.



Sarah said...

busy getting your butt whooped at gin rummy!

df said...

bless you.

Anonymous said...

It's so toxic you can't get it on your skin and they pump that stuff into you?? And it's supposed to help????

My mind boggles.

A decade of the rosary for you today.


Teresa B. said...

I continue to pray for you.
How old were you when you played Gin Rummy? 3?

Anonymous said...

Don't look at any more Thomas Kincaide, that will help with the nausea. - Karen

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Karen: haw. I laff.

Lydia & DF: thanks.

Sarah: you better be ready for round two. It's aaaaaall coming back.

Seraphic said...

Bleck, bleck, bleck. Could not read after word "veins"--just skimmed after that.

I hope the rest of things do indeed go much more smoothly.

Kay said...


Notburga said...

You'd be annoyed about comiseration / pity, probably? I'm always scared of writing anything in that direction.
The next time I get around praying the Rosary, though, I'll also include you. Good luck with the rest of this round!

berenike said...

arrrr, you're a braver woman than me.

Anonymous said...

Taking the West Highland White Terrier (much cuter than a cat - smarter, too) for a lunch walk.

Rather than talk to the dog per usual practice, today we'll say Rosary for Hilary Across the Sea.

Steve T. said...

Praying for you. My daughter Ann had a PICC line installed surgically when she was negative nine weeks old, so I have an understanding of what you're going through. God bless you.

some guy on the street said...

Has St. Anthony visited to fix your fridge, yet?

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

The pixies came and fixed it in the night.