Thursday, January 12, 2012

Day -5: Radiation Over, Chemo Coming

Warning, there's a rated R section coming up in today's post. I'm trying to be somewhat complete in documenting this process.

I'm writing this in between today's two radiation doses. So far, no side effects other than some throat dryness, and an occasional stomach pain that might be mucositis. In other words, it's like a mouth sore, but it's in my stomach.

That can be an issue. Bland foods, which is what I was told to start eating today anyway, and anything soothing to eat is okay. Biotene actually has a dry mouth gel that it's okay to swallow. I've been using it already, but I'll probably swallow just a bit on purpose for my esophagus and stomach.

I also found a throat lozenge with pectin that is just soothing.

The goal is to prevent all the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestine linings from drying out when the chemo starts destroying all the mucus that is supposed to be in there. It'll all come back, but for a couple weeks, that's one of the most painful side effects, even though it's not really dangerous (I don't think) unless it leads to infection.

This Is the R-Rated Part

So I go in this morning, and Dr. Tenenholz, the radiology oncologist, says, "There's one thing I forgot to tell you about. Sorry."

That didn't bother me. They're treating me. I'm okay with it. I'm easy to get along with.

He then explains that one place that leukemia cells like to hide out, where you don't notice them, is in the testicles.

"Uh oh!" I thought.

He hadn't forgotten to mention it. Way back in October, he mentioned that, the first time I met him. He probably forgot. He's the doctor. I'm the guy who was told that they would want to point radiation right at his testicles, making sure to tape back another body part to keep it out of the way.

I definitely did not forget, though I was hoping he would.

I'm definitely not going to blog about that procedure afterward to explain how it's done (nor is my wife going to take any pictures for Facebook!). I have no idea where they do it nor how they get that huge machine pointed just where they want, but I'm not going to explain any of that (for which I'm sure you all are glad). So I'm describing it now so I never have to describe it again.

It causes instant sterility, which the doctor said doesn't matter because the total body irradiation has already caused sterility anyway. (No problem there; we're done.) And, uh, just in case you're wondering, as my wife and I might, it doesn't cause any other related problems.

Anyway, I have to go through that right after the last dose of total body irradiation. Modesty issues make me want to ask to be put to sleep for that procedure, but I'm not going to. I'm just going to face the shame of it all. It would be a lot easier if I was 12 months old and in a diaper! I'm sort of out of the innocent nudity stage; I'm out of the Garden, and I like the fig leaf when I'm in public ... or with doctors in a hospital room.

Another Hospital Stay Change

The doctor told me this morning that I'm definitely not getting out the day after the transplant, which is Tuesday. He said I'll be in the hospital 16 days or so, and that was while he was forgetting that I'm a cord blood transplant. That will probably add another week.

Oh, well. I really don't mind the hospital stay. I wouldn't be able to see my friends or kids anyway until my blood counts come back up. I have my computer, and the hospital bed is really great on my upper back, which requires a lot of massage. (I really need to make those videos on taking care of your lower and upper back. I've done a lot of study on it, and they'd be free.)


  1. When I had that massive kidney stone attack last year in North Carolina, they found 6 stones up there. They put a stint in my ureter to be sure that all the "stuff" would come out smoothly.

    The procedure to remove said stint was what I imagine a scene from the Saw movie series being like. Clamps, torture devices, and well... you get the idea. I faced the shame as well with a very kind and elderly surgical assistant who was singing Jackson 5 songs.

    A truly surreal experience.

    I recounted it to some young men scoffing at my encouragement to them to drink more water. . . in the most vivid detail I could muster. I think some of them actually got physically ill.

    1. It's very tempting at this point to make some type of comparison of the feelings you're having about the R-rated procedure to some similar feelings women face right before they give birth.

      But I won't.

      (hey, at least we get a baby out of it...) :)

    2. Oh, I've discussed the comparison to childbirth with Hannah. For the record, I got a great compliment from her during the progress of all this treatment. She said, "Okay, you're one guy I'll admit could handle childbirth."

    3. nice. :)

      personally i found childbirth far less painful than some people described it. but i have super powers, so my opinion probably shouldn't count. :)

      however, the embarrassment about certain necessary exposures of birthing were yuck.