Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Induction Treatment, Day 13

I may have spoken a little too soon. No sooner did I hit the "publish" button on my last post, when the jaw pain that I referred to became quite a bit worse. By the next morning, the left side of my face began to swell and I realized that I had a tooth infection. A dentist was called in, but due to a miscommunication, he didn't come that day. By Friday morning, the left side of my face gave me a natural Halloween costume: Elephant Woman. The dentist came, I had a CT scan and began strong IV antibiotics, which in turn, wreaked havoc on my GI track. (Between 60%-70% of the immune system is in the GI track, so it's no wonder complications arise there when the immune system has crashed.)

For about 5 days I was on the hospital's version of liquid diet because my entire jaw was too sore to chew. Puréed carrots, puréed green beans, and puréed chicken - yes, chicken - got very old very quickly. Then I started getting this chicken colored Soylent Green stuff, which I couldn't even bear to look at. So I'm on liquids that my cousin, Mary, brought me and will hopefully graduate soon to food that my friend, Elissa, made for me. It's all about the food.

I am starting to feel better, having received several transfusions of blood and platelets. My face has resumed its normal proportions, and my energy is slowly returning. The Induction phase of treatment began on the first day of chemo, and it won't end till my blood counts tell Dr. Forte that it's over. Therefore, even though I ended chemo on Day 7, today is Day 13 of treatment. Little did I know that the week after chemo would be the worst.

Tomorrow I will probably have my second bone marrow biopsy to see if there are still leukemia cells present. If so, I will have 5 more days of chemo and then another period of crawling back to health. Although I would hate to have to extend my stay in the blue room, I would hate even more to have to return to it later.

Believe it or not, I am keeping busy. My blood levels determine how much I can actually get done each day: Watching movies from Netflix (thanks Vincent!), figuring out my new Kindle and ordering books to read (thanks Elissa and Dan!), returning e-mails and phone calls (thanks everyone!), uploading NPR broadcasts of This American Life to my IPOD (thanks Michael!), hearing reports about my kitten, Sadie, (thanks Betty and Cathie!), receiving the next batch of needed provisions (thanks Cathie and Jim!), my workouts (laps around the floor with my mask and IV pole so that I can get a glimpse of the changing trees), trying to catch my TV shows without my DVR, and my favorite part of the day: my shower - 15 minutes of complete privacy, untethered from my IV pole.

We're getting there. Day 13 is better than Day 1. As my friend Eliza reminded me recently, this too shall pass. One day at a time.




  1. That stinkin tooth.... that fairy better have a trunk to put under your bed! You sound like you're being your busy little self.. all organized and in a routine.. but yes, get home soon kiddo.. I love you!

  2. Kathy--I met you originally on the Rare Cancer forum-- we messaged a bit about lung mets since I am so terrified of them. So anyway, I was reading old posts today and was wondering how you were doing (you hadn't posted in awhile) and wallah! I stumbled upon your blog!

    I am so sorry to hear about your lastest battle with this beast. It is hard to imagine how you are dealing with it, but I must say, you are very inspirational and AMAZING. I have read your blog quickly but will continue to check in. i know a little about AML as a student in my high school where I am a principal was diagnosed last summer. He is doing great, by the way!

    I am two years out from my ACC/breast diagnosis and continue to fear mets or recurrence but am learning to not let it stop the living that I want to do.

    Thanks for posting! I will be checking in often I am sure.

    Molly Brawley
    Niles, Michigan

  3. Molly,

    Thanks so much for your comment and your support. I understand your fear of lung mets, but your chances of discovering mets is very minimal - about 6 or 7%. I just happen to defy the odds on everything! Talk to your doctor about a chest CT once a year, but keep in mind that almost everyone has a spot or two show up here and there. Spots are common just because we live in a dirty world and our lungs are filters. The best thing you can do is to stay active, eat an anticancer diet, exercise and assume that you will never have cancer again.

    Good luck, Molly!


  4. Are you allowed to have any visitors at the hospital? This is Krystina by the way =p


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