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Masked Marvel

ejourneys's picture

I am now down to my last four chemo infusions.

Full size

(The butterfly is based on (and color altered from) my photo of a Palamedes swallowtail. The azaleas are based on my shot of one in my front hedge.)

As I type this entry I look pretty much like this:

I now wear a face mask, mostly at home, for two reasons. The first, currently main reason is to keep my nasal passages moist in an attempt to heal my irritated blood vessels. (If they become too much of a problem, I'll be referred to an ear/nose/throat specialist for cauterization.)

Nosebleeds are not unusual during chemo. I've had a couple of them, the last on August 25. (I define a nosebleed as something that requires me to keep my head tilted back to make it stop.) Since that time, the back of my right nasal passage has shown bright blood consistently. On occasion (like on September 16, in the inset) a gentle nose blow to clear mucus also deposits blood on my hanky.

The second reason is to protect me from infection, now that my immunity is compromised. My immunity is not quite low enough yet to require the mask, but I wear it as an extra precaution in places where infection is more likely, e.g., medical facilities. Twice last week I took M to medical appointments. The good news is that even though compromised, my immunity numbers have improved this week and one (absolute neutrophil count) is currently out of the low range. *fist pump*

So far, the mask seems to be working. My nasal passage looks less irritated than before and is gradually clearing up. A saline spray is my Plan B, just in case.

I still await the results of my BRCA testing.

My fatigue has ramped up over these past two weeks. Rather, I've experienced more insomnia following chemo (due, I assume, to the Decadron steroid) and more of a crash on the heels of that. On Saturday I took a two-hour nap after a ten-hour overnight sleep; last night's overnight sleep was nine hours. My fatigue level now approximates what I had felt under Adriamycin/Cytoxan.

Chemo's effects are cumulative, so this does not surprise me.

September 12 marked my 270th day of maintenance (chemo weight blips notwithstanding) since I had reached my goal weight. That meant another 30-day update on MyFitnessPal. Here's the big picture:

My average weight continues to hold fairly steady even with the chemo blips, which had mainly occurred under A/C. Here's the detailed view:

Geek moment from this past week: M remarks that my port and the line that goes up to my jugular vein reminds her of "those warriors" on Star Trek DS9.

"The Jem'Hadar," I say.

"Yeah, that one. So that would make your chemo..."


Now I'm half-tempted to say, "We pledge our loyalty to the Founders, from now until death" as the chemo nurse hooks me up to the Taxol. :-)

This past week I also did the PH Challenge. PH stands for pulmonary hypertension, which involves high blood pressure between the heart and the lungs. The disease is progressive and has no cure. My video is here.

It struck me, as I did the challenge, that its analogy is straightforward. The challenge is to breathe through a straw while holding your nose for one minute, because shortness of breath is one symptom of PH. That restricted breathing is what it's like for a PH patient. If any exertion is involved, it's more like breathing through a coffee stirrer.

Cancer is a myriad of diseases. Breast cancer alone is a myriad of diseases. What would a comparable challenge look like?


Puffin2014's picture

I've loved following your countdowns, sending prayers that your chemo works well for you with minimal side effects

ejourneys's picture

Glad you enjoy the countdowns!  Am sending prayers that your chemo has done the job as well.  Keep on keepin' on!

GlowMore's picture

YOU ...  EJ.....  ARE SOMETHING ELSE !!!     Absolutely have loved all of your posts from the very beginning.   Wish you would come over to the BC Discussion Boards occasionally and share your Scientific Mind and Wonderful Attitude ***    Hope and Encouragement **   Glo

ejourneys's picture

Glad you're enjoying the posts!  I need to check out the BC boards here -- have been very active over at WhatNext and #bcsm.  Keep on keepin' on!  (((Hugs)))

Pixie Dust's picture

EJ, I have commented on your countdown before. I think it is great the way you handle all of this and love to see what you are up to next on what pictures you are going to put on here. You know the last one has to be a blast and I cannot wait to see it. They all have been special but you have to make your last one remarkable!!!!!Smile SmileSmileSmile 4 SMILEY FACES FOR YOUR LAST 4 TREATMENTS     (((hugs))) PIXIE DUST

ejourneys's picture

Glad you're enjoying the posts and the countdown!  I will definitely have a "Zero" doodle to post after the last infusion.  Thanks for the SmileSmileSmileSmile and the (((Hugs))) -- back at'cha!

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