Friday, September 02, 2005

Notes from the Irradiated

I've been extremely fatigued and sore over the last few days; I think it's a combination of the chemotherapy, and my first full week of twice-daily radiation treatments. Even with the drug I have injected every morning (two sore arms, ow) my energy is very low, and I have a definite burning sensation in my esophagus. Thankfully, I get a three-day break from the treatments for the holiday weekend.

The overall aches and pains make it difficult for me to get around, unless I take a lot of medication, which robs my energy even more and upsets my stomach. A thoughtful nurse at the radiation center arranged for a new pain med prescription, which I won't have to take as often.

My blood test this week showed that my various cell counts are sufficient to continue treatment, but I am slightly anemic, and my immune system is very low. So I'll have to avoid crowds; too bad, this weekend is the "Festa Italiana" in town, a yearly celebration of Italian food, culture, food, music and food.

Artist's rendering
And, perhaps the dreariest of today's news: The chemotherapy drugs, having spent two weeks seeping into every cell in my body, have reached my scalp. A few days ago, Gail optimistically pointed out that my hair was still its typical thick mop. Then today, as I sat at my morning bowl of cereal, I ran my hand through my bed-rumpled hair... and came away with a handful of it. Throughout the day, I've been shedding faster than Hugh, and I just took a shower and watched a great deal of it go down the drain.

So it seems that I will not be spared the most visible sign of the cancer patient, baldness. Fortunately, I am not vain, and what with Lance Armstrong so prominent in the media lately, I might actually be in vogue. (And what with Gail here, expect photos...) The point of all this is to cure me anyway, and the one piece of good news is that I haven't coughed all week - so the tumor has almost certainly shrunk already. Hopefully my energy will rally a bit ever the weekend, and we will be able to enjoy the late-summer weather, and post a few cancer-free stories and pictures.