Tag Archives: Bleomyacin

Words from the big chair #2

Dr. Klein and the nurse had bad news about my white blood cell count. But they delivered it in a terrific manner.

Dr. Klein and the nurse told me my white blood cell count was los again. But they delivered the news iin a terrific manner.

Hello again from the chemo throne.

I am still getting the chemo through an IV in my arm. They can’t consider a port in my chest until after they take a look at the blood clots again. And they can’t take a look at the blood clots until after my 4th treatment. So, its all about my arm veins for another couple of weeks.

The nurse who gave me the IV was an Army vet and he gave me a smooth stick under pressure – virtually painless. Painless needle sticks have become very important to me. Nurses trained to do triage while getting attacked by the Taliban = good IV.

But some bad news – I have to go back on the Neupogen. My white blood cell counts are low again. Which sucks.  I’m not sure if this is a Neupogen roller coaster ride that I will be on the whole time. I’m hoping that some tweaks in my nutritional plan will help my WBC stay up. Eating less sugar and more natural stuff will be a small price to pay compared to the bone pain I get from the Neupogen.

In other news, the Benedryl is kicking in and I’m going into my loopy place. It hits me pretty hard and pretty quick. Takes the edge off of everything.

I’ve got 3 ‘pushes’ then the drip.

As always, the “Red Devil” (Adryomyacin) goes in first. The nurse tells me that this one is harsh. Can cause serious nausea. But it is a necessary chemical for me to get – very effective and sort of a ‘standard issue’ chemo drug. This is the one that is also hardest on the veins and is probably causing the phlebitis in my arms (blood clots). Little bastard. Pushpushpush.

Vinblastine next. Pushpushpush.

Then Bleomyacin, which is rough on my lungs. Looks like I missed my window to take up pipe smoking. Pushpushpush.

And finally the Dacarbazine, which is my least favorite because it causes me so much pain in my arm and hand. Drip…drip…drip…

Did you know that some chemo chemicals are purple? Or aqua? Me neither. They turn your pee different colors. I’m used to mine being orange. Turquoise would be interesting.

Did you know they had free granola bars while you’re getting treatment? Mmmm…

One of these is full of nuts. The other is a granola bar.

What do Miley Cyrus and a granola bar have in common? I have no idea. I found the photo this way.

I am both amazed and depressed that this clinic is so ‘normal’. People come in, get their chemo, read magazines, socialize, nurses come and go and it feels a lot like a clubhouse to me. Part of the special treatment you get for being a member of the Cancer Club, I guess.

I find it a little depressing because this is a necessary part of life for so many people. Cancer treatment goes from something which is shocking and life changing to something along the lines of routine.

Beep beep beep. My IV keeps stopping.

Drip drip drip. The nurse fixes it.

Almost done. And a celebrity sighting – much to my mom and aunt’s glee – Bob Newhart. He’s older. His wife is here for chemo.

Quote of the day, which makes coming in for chemo worth it. My mom just said:

"He looks just like himself."

"He looks just like himself."


Home again. Shots for myself tomorrow.  Rest. Sleep.

I’ll probably dream tonight that I am married to Susanne Pleschette, own a bed and breakfast and 3 guys named Daryl 2 guys named Daryl and 1 guy named Larry live next door.

Thanks for tuning in.


Words from the big chair

Big chair photo

Check the hair

Sitting in the big chair. Dopey on Benadryl. The Ativan should kick in soon. Trying to count the number of pharmaceuticals going into my body right now. Let’s count together:

  1. Lorazepam (Ativan)  – makes me calm.
  2. Benadryl – to supress allergic reactions. Also makes me sleepy
  3. Acetaminophen – fancy name for aspirin
  4. Saline – 150mg – gotta keep the ole’ kidney’s clean
  5. Aloxi – anti-nausea, so i don’t toss my cookies.
  6. Decadron – steroids, makes dink more homers
  7. viagra – puts a party in my pants!
  8. ABVD – the big four

Ok, they are not giving me viagra. But i asked.

Everyone here is very nice. The facility is clean and bright. They have gingersnaps. I feel like I’m backstage in the VIP room of the Cancer Club. Which is a lot like getting backstage at the Whiskey A Go-Go, except the Rolling Stones have never played the UCLA Cancer Treatment Center (unless I get my wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation).

I am mostly loopy and nervous. My first chemo treatment in the hospital was a borderline nightmare with the long, long wait and multiple delays. Getting pumped ful of an unknown chemical which makes my hand burn at 11:30pm would probably turn most people off.

But it is very different experience to come to a clinic where all they do is chemo treatments. They are very understanding and patient (so far). They look at the chart and have a plan the entire way through. And did I mention the gingersnaps?

After Ativan and Benadryl this is what my clinic feels like

After Ativan and Benadryl this is what my clinic feels like

And in goes the Red Devil first. Adryomyacin. Turns my pee orange. Given first because it could cause some side effects or discomfort. Let the games begin.

I got the devil in my veins!

I got the devil in my veins!

One down. 3 more to go.

Bleomyacin – This makes my hands go numb.

Vinblastine now. This chemical is made from a plant that grows in Madagascar. How about that.

Dacarbazine – This is the one I have a problem with. It burned my hand last time and I have to be on a slow drip to deal with it. This is mostly a side-effect of using the veins in my arm instead of having a port in my chest. The nurse is trying different things to make this less unpleasant (tingling in my hands, mild pain in IV area).

Good attention from the nurse. Time for more gingersnaps.

Oh, and my white blood cell counts are a little low – White Blood Cells @ 2.7 (4.1-10.9) and Granulocytes were at 1.4.

I’ll let my mom Google those terms and she if she can come up with a diagnosis…

In the meantime, I’ll be getting Neupogen shots which will raise my white blood cells. I want Jen to give me the shot at home – really make her uncomfortable. But we will have our neighbors the nurses do it for us. Always a good idea to have a couple nurses around for these things. They are small needles – like insulin for diabetes.

The Neupogen works with my bones where they make white  blood cells. It will help keep me healthy but could cause bone pain. Everything has its price.

All done. The IV goes beep beep. I feel just like my car after an oil change at Jiffy Lube.

I'd rather be on the beach with this guy.

I'd rather be on the beach with this guy.

Pizza Face

Pizza Face

I hope you found my new site okay.

Having this site crash is a great example of what I’ve been thinking about.

Right now, I feel pretty good and, considering how badly things go for some people, I’m doing very well with the chemo. But there’s still a few things going on:

  • Fatigue – I was pretty tired the first few days. And even now, I will sometimes crash around 6pm for a couple of hours. Its not just sleep – I completely pass out and its hard for me to get up at all. But for the most part, I am sleeping well and my energy is good.
  • “Bleo Effect” – My friend Vanessa warned me about this. One of the chemicals, Bleomyacin, has side effects on the skin and blood flow to the hands. When I hold my hands out in front of me they feel ‘ghostly’. Then they feel normal again when I bring them back. The doctor said to get used to it and keep my hands warm.
  • Phlebitis – I have blood clots in the vein where they gave me chemo. It’s a little painful and makes my hand a little numb. It should clear up on my own but I wrap my left arm in a heating pad sometimes for comfort.
  • Metallic Taste – Ugh. This one really got to me. For about 5 days after chemo I had a metallic taste in the back of my mouth. Which led us on a search for mints, suckers, Werther’s, ginger chews and anything else that will get rid of it. Coffee is ruined. I love ginger (which I normally don’t). I eat with plastic utensils. The taste became a 24 hour obsession to make it go away. Luckily, it did after a few days…but I’m not looking forward to it coming back.
  • My pee smells funny – does this need an explanation?
  • Itching hair/Losing hair/No hair – I should start losing my hair in a couple of days. Today was the first time I felt the itching and burning in my scalp which means the little fellas are on their way out.

Funny story: While I was in the hospital, the nurses kept sticking tape and bandages to me for a variety of reasons. I got tired really quickly of having them tear the tape off and all the hairs on my arms with it. So I decided any time they stick anything to me, I’m going to shave the spot first. I shaved two patches on my arm where they put the IV, figuring its only hair and it’ll grow back. The doctor looked at my arms the other day – 2 weeks after I shaved them – and told me that will grow back in about 6 more months. Until then, my arm looks like a topographic map of Africa carved out of arm hair. Add it to the ‘Awesome List’.

  • Acne – I have broken out all over my face and body. Its not painful, just annoying and not that attractive. It could be from the steroids, the chemo, both or who knows. And who knows if it will go away.

Which leads me to the point of this post: I don’t give a damn about the acne.

If this happened to me 3 weeks ago, I would be freaking out about it. Pimples on my face, shoulders, chest and back. All over my forehead. I look like a 16 year old at Homecoming.

I couldn’t care less. Give me some acne. Give me a metallic taste in my mouth. Let me endure a little discomfort – in my body and in my life. My blog, which has become so important to me, was almost completely wiped out for no reason. I deleted our entire iTunes music catalog from T-Z (seriously, I have no idea how).

Unless it gets serious, I really couldn’t be bothered over a few zits.

This is pretty true in my life these days. Traffic doesn’t bother me. The jerk on his cell phone in line behind me at Trader Joe’s – he will go away. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and most of it is small stuff.

Of course, I won’t be like this forever. And the edge between “I don’t care” and “I’m going to punch the guy with the cell phone in the face” is a thin one. But I guess the point of this blog is that one day I can go back and remind myself that I once felt this way and hopefully I’ll get that feeling back.

Even if its only until I’m stuck in rush hour traffic again.

But for now, this pizza face isn’t sweating the small stuff.

My Chemical Romance


The doctor thought I looked so good today that I can start chemo this afternoon.

Pending final results of my biopsy – which looks all ship-shape – I’ll be getting a fresh IV and some new fluid friends. Going to sneak in a pastrami sandwich and bowl of chicken soup right beforehand for some good ole’ Jewish schutzpa.

My chemical cocktail of choice is ABVD. It is a ‘textbook’ treatment for my condition. They will keep track of my vitals and reactions overnight. If all goes well, I should be home on Friday.

Chemo every 2 weeks. Keep the immune system up and the swine flu away. Develop a new relationship with my body fluids.

Not too much else to say about all this, really. Looking forward to feeling better.

Thanks again to all the support and love.