Health Update

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This is not of interest to most of you, but I do get emails and queries fairly frequently, so I figure I ought to share once in a while. The big picture summary is that nothing serious is wrong; a biopsy is scheduled for Friday; and I’ve been officially enrolled in the second stage of chemo treatment (the stem cell transplant). For those who want to know more, additional detail and miscellaneous griping is below the fold.

Like I said, nothing serious is wrong. But damn. Chemotherapy has a number of bad side effects, and I mostly just accepted them while it was going on. But it’s now been nearly three weeks since chemo ended, and the side effects haven’t improved at all. In fact, they’ve gotten a little worse. The neuropathy in my feet is no better, and it’s spread a bit in the past few weeks. I feel it in my ankles, and sometimes even in my hands—which is brand new. My stomach remains mildly upset all the time, which is a good way to lose a few pounds but not good for anything else. It’s a bit more noticeable than it used to be, and I’ve even had a couple of bouts of diarrhea in the past two weeks. That’s new too. And my trouble sleeping remains unchanged. I tried tapering off my sleep meds slightly, and it just didn’t work. I gave it more than a week, but finally gave up and went back to my old dose. This used to get me about seven hours of sleep, but now it’s only good for six. That’s not horrible, but it adds up. I pretty much spend my days feeling exhausted all the time, and my emotional state is weirdly unbalanced. I periodically break out in crying jags for no apparent reason. It only lasts a minute or two, but it’s not something that’s ever happened to me before.

I have no idea if this is normal or not. I only get to see my oncologist for 20 minutes once a month, and she’s not very helpful anyway. As near as I can tell, she’s so afraid of saying or doing something she might be blamed for that she’s just not willing to say much at all. But that might be unfair. Maybe there’s just not much to say. Everyone responds differently to this stuff, and maybe there’s simply no telling how long it will take for all this stuff to clear up.

Friday’s biopsy is being done by a different oncologist, so I’ll see if I can chat with him for a few minutes before the procedure. Maybe he’ll have something useful to tell me.

None of this is horrific, and God knows I’m better off than lots of cancer patients. By relative standards, my chemo regimen was a fairly mild one. Still, expectations are everything. When chemo was over, I was looking forward to feeling better, and instead I’m feeling worse. I wish I knew what was going on. Blah.

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FACT:

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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