This past week was particularly rough for me. So in an effort to keep you all current without being too lengthy, I’m going to try to keep this post brief but informative.
The Egg Retrieval
Friday, January 13, 2012, was the day my “Maybe Babies” were created. You can imagine my horror when I realized that my procedure was on Friday the 13th… I had some pretty sweet duds though.
The only instructions I received for the procedure were don’t eat after midnight and smell as neutral as possible, the eggs don’t like scented things. My little “Maybe Babies” are sensitive already.
I also had some awesome company before and after the procedure.
And some awesome photo opps…
My doctor was able to get 21 eggs! That’s phenomenal!!! Normal is 14-16. We froze 7 unfertilized eggs and 10 embryos. I’m more than satisfied with these numbers.
Chemo and Radiation
I have been asked to be part of a documentary about HPV and the cancers it causes. I am the woman presently going through treatment, everyone else has already been through treatment and has come out one way or another. It’s not exactly the film debut I had always imagined, but I’ll take it!
The director, Frederic, and camera guy, Ken, came over Sunday, January 15, to do interviews with me and my dad. They were here for the better part of the day with their giant lights set up all over our house. They came back Monday to ride with me to my first chemo and radiation appointments. Chris went with me.
We were there for almost 6 hours (I got a saline drip for 2 hours, steroids and pain meds after that, chemo for just over an hour, and another 2 hours of saline). The kind of chemotherapy I get is called cisplatin. It’s light sensitive, so they keep it in a brown bag. The nurse likened the bag to a beer bottle…
To keep ourselves occupied, we brought things to do, but it turned out that we didn’t really have that much time. The hospital had a speaker come speak to all the women getting chemo (I get my treatments at the center for gyncologic cancers only… turns out it’s the Ritz Carlton of chemo treatment centers). We brought lunch in, did some interviews, my oncologist came down to chat with me (and be interviewed), and we played a few games of UNO- and then it was time to go. The time flew by. I forgot to take a picture of one of my favorite parts of the day, but I promise to get one tomorrow at my next treatment. I have to pee in a “hat”. Stay tuned for more on that…
A radiation treatment only takes about 15 minutes. The mold of my torso I showed you earlier, is already in place on the table under a sheet when I get there. I lay in it with my head toward the machine and the radiation therapists line me up using the blue lines on my stomach and hips. I’m not exactly sure how the machine works, but the whole thing moves around me and those panels on the side close and open. I don’t feel anything and the only sound is a steady, pulsing hum.
— Warning! This part talks about poop and diarrhea a lot. You have been warned.—
This week was supposed to be my easiest week as far as how I felt. Well, long story short… I hadn’t pooped in about a week and my belly was literally distended. I was so bloated that my belly button, which is usually an in-betweeny (it’s an outty that has been pushed in) was starting to pop out. My whole abdomen from ribs to pubes was rock hard. I took Miralax on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday to no avail. I wasn’t even farting. And for those of you who know me, I’m not not gassy. This was weird. On Tuesday I took a dose of Milk of Magnesia. Nothing. So on Wednesday, when I couldn’t move because my abdomen hurt so bad, I took another dose. All of this was per my doctors’ recommendations (I consulted with 2 of them). I waited 7 hours after my last dose of Milk of Magnesia (it’s supposed to work in 1/2 – 6 hours) and then sent my dad to CVS to get a liquid glycerin suppository. It worked.
I had been laying on the floor to do the suppository, and no sooner did I remove it than I was climbing up onto the toilet. Straight diarrhea. Which was great that I was emptying out, but then I started gagging. I grabbed my puke bucket (which has a permanent place next to the toilet these days). I had what was essentially water coming out of both ends of my body. Gross. I yelled for my dad and asked him to call Dr. Mutch, my oncologist. This kind of water loss is bad for healthy people, but it’s especially bad for chemo patients as the chemo is horrible for the kidneys, and we’re supposed to stay very well hydrated. My poor, tech un-savvy dad was on the other side of the bathroom door and couldn’t figure out how to work my iPhone. It wasn’t so funny then, but now it’s hysterical. I finally got my phone and left a message for the doc.
I got into my bed and felt SO MUCH BETTER and was so thankful the camera crew was gone already.
Later that night, I had another bout of diarrhea. This time when I started puking, I got really dizzy and actually contemplated laying on the floor and letting the fluids drain from my body around me. And then I blacked out momentarily. My dad, who can’t hear me when I’m next to him in the car, must have been tuned into me that night because he came running down the hall to the bathroom. Without missing a beat, he yelled, “I’m coming in!” as he barreled through the doorway. You know you’re in an awful state when you’re actively diarrhea-ing, your puke bucket has spilled off your lap and your vomit is all over the floor, your stark white granny panties and giant maxi pad are around your knees, you haven’t trimmed up anything since Christmas, and you’re perfectly happy to have your dad cleaning you up in the family bathroom. This was my Wednesday.
Thursday, I couldn’t get out of bed. I skipped my radiation appointment and went to the 24/7 center instead. I was so dehydrated, it took 2 nurses 3 tries to find a vein they could access. I laid in a bed all day being pumped full of saline. Turns out a water cup at this distance is just too far away when you’re that dehydrated. I’m not generally so helpless, but I sure did wait for someone to come in the room to get that water for me.
After all the saline, my stomach was distended again, so they sent me to get an x-ray to make sure I didn’t have a blockage of some kind. Nothing. The next day, I saw a radiation oncologist, 2 residents, and a nurse who felt, listened, and brainstormed about what the problem could be. No one had any idea. I felt like I was in the middle of an episode of House. Then I suggested that it may be a reaction to my egg retrieval. They called my endocrinologist and sent me over there for an ultrasound after my radiation treatment. BINGO! I have a mild case of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome… sigh of relief. Essentially, the fluid from all my recently vacated follicles is draining into my abdomen and not being absorbed properly. It doesn’t happen to everyone after a retrieval, but it’s not super uncommon. It will resolve itself. Finally, I had an answer for my pregnant-looking belly. The constipation was something separate, but at least I had an answer to my biggest concern.
Today I feel almost normal. I’m a little bummed that the week that was supposed to be my easy week was miserable, but I have one week under my belt (yay!), and I can’t imagine the rest of treatment will be terribly worse.