Passing the halfway mark...

Day One of Round Four is behind us. This means we are officially past the halfway mark in John's six rounds of chemotherapy.

The first day of each round is long. Today and tomorrow's infusions will take less than two hours. But on the first day, we arrive at 8:00 am, have blood taken, see the doctor before beginning treatment, and then settle in for a full day of consecutive infusions. John receives IV pre-meds, IV anti-nausea meds, two monocloncal antibodies (Rituxan, then the experimental drug, Lumiliximab), followed by the two chemotherapy agents (Fludarabine and Cytoxan). The monoclonals have to be infused slowly to avoid the potential side effects. But the chemo drugs don't take long at all. The second and third days are so much shorter. John goes to work in the morning and gets his infusion in the late afternoon. The two chemo drugs can be infused in about an hour, although we are always there a couple of hours because it takes time to have his blood checked and get the IV started.

John has tried leaving the needle in all three days. I think they call this an IV cath (it's not the same as a port). They tape it up and then you don't have to be stuck three separate times. However, John has found this to be more annoying than just being re-stuck. You have to wrap your arm in plastic wrap when you shower, it's bothersome trying to sleep, etc. So he opted not to do that again.

John is tolerating the chemo well so far. Two weeks ago he was neutropenic (dangerously low neutrophils). But by yesterday his blood had come back to normal levels. Of course, by the end of this week, they will be low again. That's how this works. We are hoping that they will rebound appropriately following the next two rounds and there will be no delays in scheduled treatments. If we stay on schedule, his last round will be the last week of January.

So far, after each round, John has had severe nausea and usually spends the weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) in bed. We are trying a drug this time called Emend, which is specifically for delayed onset nausea. (John is very tired during treatment, but he doesn't get sick until the day after his last dose of chemo.) He is also wearing an anti-nausea patch. I'm really hoping he won't be as sick this time as the last times. I'll let you know.

When we got his blood results yesterday, I told him they were really, really good. He was tolerating the chemo very well. He said he wished HE was holding up (as far as how he feels) as well as his numbers appear to be. He said, "I really thought I would hold up better than I have." I felt like he was somehow disappointed in himself and I reminded him of how hard these treatments are on his body. I think he's pushed through remarkably well.

I don't think we can have any idea what it's like to take chemo until we experience it. And every body is different. We respond differently. I don't know anybody any tougher than John when it comes to pain. But this has knocked him for a loop. That just proves to me that it's really not about how tough you are. He has such an amazing attitude. And he doesn't complain. He is the sweetest person even in the middle of feeling horrible. But I see in his eyes that this is very, very hard.

Like I've said before, I can't wait for it to be February. And I'm so glad we are getting this behind us before the new baby arrives this spring.

Oh, that reminds me...

We found out yesterday that the new baby (due May 2) is A BOY! I will have a third grandson this spring. I can't wait to get to know this new little person. I have probably never mentioned it, but I LOVE BEING A GRANDMA.

Danny suggested to Joshua (four years old) that they name his new little brother Jack. Joshua said, "How about Beanstalker?" I don't think we want Joshua naming the baby.

Well, I have a bruch to attend in an hour. What in the world am I doing sitting here at the computer?


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