Monday, September 28, 2015

New drug, new side effects

It's been a while since I posted...I was feeling too awful to even get on the computer for a few days, and then when I did it was to do some work and get off again. I posted about this a bit on facebook, but I thought I should capture it for posterity here on the blog as well as fill in the details and updates.

So almost three weeks ago now I got my first infusion of Taxol, and I've already talked about how it went for the first week or so. I figured I was pretty well out of the woods and on my way toward getting better and better and ready for the next one, scheduled for last Wednesday (the 23rd). Monday night (the 21st), we had some friends over for dinner and games. I noticed I had a couple itchy spots, but didn't really think anything of it; plus, I was distracted by the games and company. As we were winding down the night and the excitement wore off, I started feeling considerably more itchy. After our friends left, we discovered I had hives over part of my torso and on the inside of my thighs. I called the after-hours number for advice, took Benadryl, Michael ran off to the closest 24-hour drug store for some anti-itch lotion, and we finally went to bed.

The next morning, the hives had spread and there were about double what had been there the night before. We called the doctor again, and he prescribed a stronger antihistamine. Michael picked that up along with some other cream since the first two didn't really work. The itching was insanely bad. Torturous, even. That night, we realized I had a fever as well. It got as high as 100.7 so we called the doctor again, but they said to just monitor it and go to the ER if it hit 102. We set our alarm to wake us up every four hours to keep a steady flow of antihistamines going as well as to monitor my temperature.

The hives continued to spread and I continued to suffer. Wednesday we went in for my appointment, and the doctor agreed that I shouldn't do chemo that day. He also said I could up the dose on the antihistamines. Michael went back to the store and this time got Burt's Bees Aloe and Buttermilk lotion, which ended up working better than everything else we'd d tried.

The blood work showed my WBCs were high (good I guess, since I was fighting an infection) and RBCs, hematocrit, and hemoglobin were still slightly low but higher than the time before. I have noticed the fatigue is not so bad and I can do more physical stuff without getting tired or getting my heart racing.

Anyway, on Friday I woke up with no hives. There was still some residual itchiness, but it was very mild. My temperature was back to normal. What a huge relief! It felt so good to be back to...well, the new normal. And I was able to have a good weekend and visit with friends.

As for what caused the rash, it's hard to say. It's not an uncommon reaction to Taxol, but usually it happens in the first 24-48 hours, not nearly two weeks later. We did read that Taxol can create sensitivities to foods you previously had no allergy to, so I could have a new food allergy. Most likely suspects, judging from what I ate on Monday, are pistachios and strawberries. So, I won't eat any nuts or strawberries at least until chemo is over just to be safe.

So, my chemo trip will be a week longer than originally planned. While I'm not pleased about that, maybe this week allowed my counts to bounce back a bit and this treatment won't be as hard on me. Only three more to go...I'm kind of excited to get back on track this week and get a start on the final seven weeks of this leg of the journey. Let's do this!

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