Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Back on Chemo

Things are a little bit different since my stroke. Since the blog is supposed to keep any readers updates as to what is happening with me, I figured that my faithful readers (if any) should get an update. Also, this blog is my personal record of what I am doing. So, here goes:

I am back on chemo. Same Old, Same Old? Well, not exactly. There have been a number of changes since my stroke.

1. They had me take a two week break from chemo. Initially, this was going to be one week, but they changed it to two weeks at the last minute.

2. I am now taking Enoxaparin which is generic for Lovenox. Well - not tactlessly "taking". It is more that I am "doing shots". Putting it that way makes it sound like more fun than "injecting myself". Actually, this is a pain in the butt. Well, to be more exact, it is a pain in the belly. I give myself these injections twice a day - in the belly rather than in the butt. Fortunately, my belly has increased in size over the last couple of years, so I now have what they called in the Air Force, "a target rich environment".

3. I am now taking Atorvastatin (generic for Lipitor). Even though my cholesterol is fine, they tell me that this reduces the chances for another stroke.

4. I have been wearing a heart monitor for the last two weeks - with two more weeks to go. I stick this sensor onto the middle of my chest and it records and transmits heart pulses. They want to find out if I have Atrial Fibrillation which can throw clots. The good part about this is that the monitor thing has flashing lights. Barbara thinks it makes me look like a robot. I don't know whether that is good or bad, but I am trying to learn to walk like a robot in order to stay in character. I will also start working on my "robot voice".

5. The biggest change is that they want me to stop taking Revlimid. This is one of the four chemo drugs I have been taking for the last 4+ years that has held my cancer at bay. This is what I find the most scary. I will also note that they waited until the last minute to tell me about the change, so I had already ordered the next set of pills. I now have more than a thousand dollars (my cost) of Revlimid in a drawer in my office.

So, the big question is whether the new treatment regimen will hold the cancer down without the Revlimid. It will take a few cycles before we see how it is working. Presumably, if it does not work, the doctors have some more tricks up their sleeves. For example,  there is this whole Immunotherapy therapy thing that they have not tried on me. And then I am also thinking that we could always go back to the original "RVD Plus Pano" and take a chance that the Enoxaparion will be enough to prevent more strokes.

Meanwhile, I have been feeling pretty good. I am tired and sleeping a lot, but all in all I am doing very well.

One thing that is kind of funny is that I have been cursing one of my other drugs, Desxamethosone for five years. It makes me feel wired and I sometimes have trouble sleeping for a couple of nights after taking it. But, last week, I noticed that I was feeling rather draggy. I had lost a lot of my "zip". But then a few hours after taking Dex as the start of this latest cycle, I was back to my old lively self. I figure it must be the Dex. I think it has me on a permanent high - like a caffeine high. That is probably why they have me taking it even during my break weeks. Better living through chemistry and all that. Highly recommended.