The day is full of nines today. Yesterday’s paper had an article about the auspiciousness of the number 9. In some countries, like China, it’s considered lucky. I must have been under the Japanese influence of the number, though, which isn’t so lucky.
No popsicle report.
And no infusion either.
The day was rather hectic, and the appointment rather later than usual, at 1:30. (I like getting the infusions in the morning, so I can get the most of that steroid effect!) I felt a sense of dread as I drove to the oncology center, but couldn’t figure specifically why. I was thinking about the last blood count and hoping the red cells hadn’t declined further. The fatigue hasn’t really increased, but I can’t take stairs two-at-a-time, as is my usual habit (not to prove anything but because I’m usually in a hurry), and when I walk up the hill that is our driveway to pick up the mail, I have to stop halfway because the strength in my legs just isn’t there.
So there I sat in the vinyl Barcalounger in the infusion center, wondering about the popsicle du jour (I admit I peeked in the freezer before I sat down to see if I could spot any blueberry lemon, but no luckl). The nurse drew the blood sample, and as I waited for results, I looked around and noticed a woman across the room carrying the same book I’m reading currently (Harry Potter #7 — the last in the series, in which Harry finally kills his evil nemesis, Voldemort. I can identify with his struggle.). When the nurse came back, she said we would not be going ahead with the infusion because the WHITE cell count was down. Last week it was 4.5, the low end of the the normal range for females. Yesterday it was 1.7, a significant drop that put me below the threshold of 2.0 to go ahead with the infusion.
I can’t puzzle this out. The 2 Neupogen shots I took at first doubled the white cells and the next two increased them even further. Last week, I back off to one shot, and the white cells plummet and the chemo has to be delayed. It was scary, and disappointing. (How strange to be disappointed NOT to be getting the chemicals.) I had counted off the sessions on the calendar and found that, if everything goes according to schedule, I’d finish chemo a few days before Christmas.
I’m waiting now for a callback from my oncologist, whom I hope can enlighten me about this particular part of the roller coaster ride. My husband gave me a Neupogen shot as soon as I got home yesterday. As he noted, this was the first time he hadn’t been with me for the session (he was busy getting the kids to their respective day-before-school-starts activities). So perhaps, besides his many other roles, he’s also my good luck charm.
The good news is that my weight is back up to triple digits. Some good pasta, trail mix, and dark chocolate helped. I couldn’t bring myself to chug the olive oil, but my daughter’s white-chocolate-apricot-oatmeal cookies are, I believe, a suitable substitute. The kids started back to school today — fortunately, neither has a big transition this year — and I got to soak up some solitude this afternoon. And though I didn’t get a popsicle, I did manage to snag a tub of chocolate pudding while I waited at the infusion center.
Another book I read this week was Robert Schimmel’s “Cancer on $5 a Day.” That’s a misleading title since he doesn’t really talk about cost, but he does describe his brutal experience going through chemotherapy for non-Hodgkins’ lymphoma. I can’t recall how I came across the book, and I’d never heard of the author before. He’s a stand-up comic, a friend of Howard Stern, and his material can be pretty raw, but his book was worth reading for the humorous (and heart-breaking) account of his experience. One of the scenes he describes is taking half an hour to shuffle 30 yards out to his mailbox only to find a renewal notice for his driver’s license, and his subsequent conversation with the officer at the DMV about why he really can’t come down to have his picture taken.
And the lightbulb went off in my bald head.
I checked my license.
It expires next month.
Rumor has it that the County has closed two of the three DMV offices due to budget cuts. I guess this is my next big adventure.