After last week’s post in which I excoriate the purveyors of alternative cancer “cures,” I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the fact that chemo — while effective — really does blow.
We just got back from a whirlwind trip to DC, where Alastair had several gigs, followed by the Jersey shore, (Ocean City) where my aunt lives, for beach / boardwalk / five pounds gained in less than three days due to Johnson’s caramel corn, Kohr Brothers frozen custard, Brown’s fresh donuts and Shriver’s Salt Water taffy.
We went on our trip armed with a big backpack full of Clio’s meds, including the last of her doses of steroids for the latest cycle, which–as she withdrew–gave her some trouble with leg pain, such that the little bit of sightseeing we did in DC was tricky. (Thank goodness for complimentary wheelchairs and stroller rentals.)
We also traveled with a shot of our old pal Methotrexate, which is going to be a weekly part of Clio’s treatment for the next year. I gave her the shot on Thursday night, and as always, she was a total trooper. She even invited the four-year-old son of the friends we were staying with — who was in his own words, “Very interested in medical stuff!” — to watch.
She seemed fine that evening and first thing the next morning, but it went downhill from there.
On our way up to New Jersey she was very sleepy, and then nauseous. We had to pull over while driving through peaches and corn country so she could retch into a plastic bag and we could give her a dose of Zofran (anti-nausea medicine).
That stuff is like magic. She pepped up again for a bit, and was excited as we crossed the bridge over the bay to Ocean City and could see the big Ferris Wheel. (Did you know ‘Ferris Wheel’ is a proper noun, named after the inventor/designer of the first one? Neither did I, until spellcheck just underlined it. Then again, it also just underlined “spellcheck.”)
But once we got to my aunt’s house, she conked out. Continued to feel nauseated, headachey and exhausted, and basically slept on and off all afternoon while I went to the beach with Elsa.
Later that day, I called the on-call fellow at Children’s, just to make sure all of this was a normal reaction to Methotrexate, and she said it was. And, by the way, I should check her temp, just to make sure she wasn’t running a fever.
Well, whaddya know, it was 100.4 — the threshold for an emergency room visit if reached twice in one day. I called the fellow back, and she said to check it again in an hour. Meanwhile, we started trying to figure out where the nearest emergency room was, and I started cursing inwardly. I mean, really? On the shore vacation the girls had been looking forward to all year? The one Clio missed last summer because she was in the hospital? NOT cool, cancer. Not cool.
BUT, blessedly, the cancer gods smiled upon us this time. It must have been that goat I’d kidnapped from the National Zoo the day before and slaughtered on a stone tablet after annointing its head with oil and reciting few verses in ancient Greek. (I always do this sort of thing periodically. Just to be safe.)
An hour later, fever had gone down to 100.3, and the fellow deemed it unnecessary to run for the ER, especially since her counts were so high. We just had to keep a close eye on her.
And the next day — hallelujah — she was fully recovered. No fever, no nausea, and much more energy. We spent the morning at the beach and the afternoon on the rides on the boardwalk. And I mean rides. These girls — now tall enough to go on even the “grown up” roller coaster — were fearless. And now we were the ones forced to confront (our own) nausea. (Would it be cool for us to take a hit of Zofran after a whirl on the Music Express? Probably not….)
So, thank the gods, we didn’t end up in the hospital. But now I’m wondering: is this going to be a weekly thing? I mean, is she going to spend a full day feeling like crap every week because of the methotrexate, or was this worse than usual because it was the first time, or because she was still coming off steroids and an LP, or was exhausted from travel?
I mean, at least it was just a day. But still. Ugh.
Hemp oil, anyone?