A Real Pain in the Back Side

No, not my backside, the left side of my lower back. Started last night, but was tolerable until about 7AM, when it started spiking. Managed to get up, showered, dressed as the pain level climbed 6, 7… still rising.

So, took the long (40 minute) drive to UTSW Emergency Room. I could have gone to Medical City, Arlington (10-15 minutes), but nearly all my recent medical history is at UTSW. Pain peaked, then disappeared, of course, just before I walked into the ER. Considered, briefly, going into the office, but from past history I figured that this was another kidney stone and that the pain would be back.

Last time I went to UTSW ER I waited hours to get into an exam room. This time, I was ushered straight in. Slow morning, I guess…there was only one other person in the triage area when I got there, and he was taken back to an exam room about 5 minutes after I got there. They started an IV, took some history, took some blood, and sent me to get a CT scan.

About time I got back from the CT, another wave of pain hit. Spiked up to a 9 and held there. Doctor ordered some IV pain meds which couldn’t get there soon enough. It knocked the pain back down to a 3 or 4, then it was just waiting for the test results to come back.

CT confirmed a 5mm stone in a ureteral duct on its way from the kidney to the bladder. Had to wait for blood tests to confirm no infection (if there had been an infection, I would have been admitted). Then, cut loose around 2:30pm.

Hadn’t eaten all day, so grabbed a late lunch and went to the office for a little while. Well, a very little while…long enough to pick up some things I wanted for the weekend and check to see if there were any emergencies. I’d kept up with all my emails while at the hospital waiting for the test results, so knew that there wasn’t likely to be anything hugely urgent late on a Friday the day before a 3-day weekend. Still, I have 4 or 5 hours of work to do tomorrow to get some things out that really need doing before Tuesday (main thing needs to be done before Sunday).

Speaking of eating, after 4 days or so of little to no appetite, it has come back. I think that the long-acting anti-nausea meds might be what killed my appetite…one wears off in 2 days, the other in 4 days, and I got the last Friday. Around Tuesday I started feeling very hungry, so have been eating normally (or maybe a little more than normally) since then.

Meanwhile I did find an effective treatment for my insomnia, albeit one that I would not recommend. The combination chemo cocktail I had last weekend (carboplatin, atezolizumab, and etoposide) has resulted in my insomnia going away, at least for this week. Every day, I manage to grab dinner, but as soon as I get home, I’m out like a light. Doesn’t matter if it is 7pm or 8pm…I’m out (other than getting up occasionally to take care of pressing bio issues) until I drag myself out of bed the next morning.

So, such fun going into a holiday (sort of) weekend. In addition to my work-work tomorrow I also need to clean up/put away some stuff in preparation of my nephew and his family coming over to help on Sunday. Nothing horrible, but I do have too many pill bottles out in the living room (where I’ve been sorting my meds into their daily doses) and need to lock up my weapons. Then, need to empty some of my storage bins so that we can use them to pack up the kitchen. Then, Sunday they’ll be here early and will work until lunch with my Mom. Hopefully the work-work I do tomorrow wont’ generate any emergency corrections and I can actually relax on Monday.

A Little Wiped Out

Well, maybe more than a little. Chemo 3 days in a row (Friday / Saturday / Sunday) and now a couple of weeks off to let it do its thing before the next round. Friday wasn’t too bad, other than lack of sleep from the night before. Saturday, I went home and took a long nap. Sunday, an even longer nap.

Monday I had early morning follow up appointment with my throat surgeon, then went into the office. Around 4 I realized I’d better leave if I wanted to stay awake for the drive home. Stopped by and got some soup for dinner, then on to the house. In bed by 7 pm. Barely crawled out of bed a little after 7 am. I could have stayed home, but then I would have just veg’d all day. Came to the office and am able to get some work done, but not up to my stellar productivity standards.

Biggest side effect is fatigue. But, I’m also not very hungry and the lymphedema (fluid build-up) in my neck seems to be a lot worse than before treatment. Don’t know if that is a side effect of the chemo or a side effect of not being very active the last few days. But, I’m still spared nausea.

I had ordered some accessories for my car (roof rack and other similar) expecting to install them when they got here. Well, I can’t even get them out of the back of the car, now. Rather than wait a week or two to feel up to it, one of my nephews is going to come over this weekend and put them together and on the car for a bit of walking around money. Also a few house tasks (all my kitchen cabinets need to be emptied in advance of a remodel that starts in a couple of weeks) so tapping him for that, as well.

Didn’t expect this big of an effect so quickly. Hopefully that means the tumors are getting kicked just as hard…or harder.

Thursday I have planned to have the feeding tube into my stomach removed…I’ve not used it in a couple of months and it is a constant irritant. Unless my mouth/throat develop sores (a possible side effect) my eating should not be affected (well, other than the loss of appetite, which I hope comes back during the pause between treatments). Actually, I could remove it myself, but the doctors really frown on that (you just deflate a balloon and pull). But, after that I have a complete break from doctors for a whole week!

Well, about ready to take a nap…but since I’m still at my office as I finish this up (started writing it yesterday), I’d better get a few more things done before heading home, where I will really try not to go to bed too early.

Chemo Starts Tomorrow

That says it all. Well, I suppose there are one or two other things I could add.

I overall feel pretty good, other than some right should pain and continued bouts of insomnia. Chemo treatment might actually be good for the insomnia (if it makes me fatigued, maybe I’ll sleep better).

The 3-drug cocktail I’ll be on will involve about 5 hours in the infusion tomorrow, then an hour or two on Saturday and Sunday. Then I will be free of treatments for 2 weeks before doing another round. Side effects are expected to be mild…much milder than last Summer. And, the oncologist seems pretty confident that the liver tumors will respond, as will the lung tumors. He was not worried too much about the liver tumors (of course, it isn’t his liver we were discussing). And, after I’ve had a few rounds of chemo there will be some other options we can look at for burning out the tumors with targeted beams.

Yesterday, I helped set up a trade show. Did the same thing 2 weeks ago. 2 weeks ago I overdid it big time and had a lot of right shoulder pain for several days. Yesterday I managed to only overdo it a little…so I have a little shoulder pain, today, but not bad at all. That shoulder won’t really have an opportunity to get much better until and unless the nerve that goes to the trapezius muscle regenerates. That muscle is basically gone, so the wrong muscles are taking over…which pulls my shoulder in the wrong directions when I try to use it with any effort at all. I have exercises to do, but they won’t be completely effective until I regain control of that muscle.

So, that is the quick update for today. Hoping that chemo is as benign to my overall system as expected (but that it is as effective at attacking the tumors as we hope).