With my hand on the wheel and my brain in neutral . . .

Post Numeral #23

Go to FIRST post –> Diary of My Death, Post #1

Chemo infusion #19 (one week later)

Treatment Days 260-266

This is my second treatment with the chemo cocktail.  The doc told me that there are three cocktails for my cancer and that on average each works for about eight months.  So, my blood test numbers and three-month CAT scan (and a growing ache in back about where my left kidney is, balanced by another growing ache on my right side, in front, just above the top of my pants) indicated that the cocktail I have been using since this started was losing its effectiveness.

My first treatment with the new meds was just one week earlier.  The new schedule is three weeks on, one week off.  To me, that sounds like more down time per month.  My first “taste” of the new chemo wasn’t pleasant.  My appetite pretty much disappeared, and my hair started falling out fast.

I’ve been bald on top since my late 20’s, and beside a couple of cases of sunburn it didn’t bother me at all, so I don’t really care much at all about losing my hair.  But I don’t like losing my beard.   I’ve worn a beard almost continuously since I was 19 (that’s 40 years, y’know), and the few times I shaved it off it would be only days before I started growing it back.  It’s part of the face I’ve seen in the mirror for essentially my entire adult life.  Losing it is a little disturbing.

Over the week between first and second treatments with the new meds, I lost six pounds.  I wonder if it was from not eating nearly as much as I regularly do, or if a significant part of the six pounds lost was in total body hair.  Head, beard, body, arms and legs – after all, there’s been a reason my nieces and nephews call me, “Unckie Monkey!”

The good thing about this second treatment of the new chemo cocktail was that my appetite returned to near normal.  I suppose the temporary loss was due to my body getting accustomed to the new cocktail.

Another good thing was that on the recommendation of a doctor, I made an appointment with a therapist.  The doctor told me that it sometimes a great idea to have someone neutral to talk with about the whole cancer thing, and as soon as she said it, I thought, “D’oh!” and mentally hit myself with my palm on my forehead.  I immediately thought of how cancer conversations with loved ones are harder not because of the subject itself but because I try to use the most palatable phrasing.  Once in a while a neutral but knowledgeable listener could be a great relief.  D’oh!

The other good thing was that I received my state-authorized medical marijuana card.  Woo-hoo!  I had smoked more than a few doobies during my high school years, but since then, in the intervening 42 years, I’ve partaken in maybe half a dozen smokes.  It just wasn’t my thing, not worth the bother.  But now, in my current circumstance . . .

I went to the nearest state-approved dispensary and got three products: buds for smoking, for immediate reaction; THC tincture for ease of use, for delayed absorption; and CBP oil, for the benefits (better appetite, better sleep, better mood) without the intoxicating high.  During non-chemo weeks I wanted to be as clear-headed and productive as possible, but during the chemo weeks I wanted to get stoned out of my gourd.  If I was going to be rendered useless by the chemo, I might as well do it with a grin on my face.

I tried the THC tincture first.  I put four drops under my tongue, then remembered the guy at the dispensary said not “four drops” but “start with one drop, wait at least a half hour, then another drop, and so on, until you see what works for you.  Most people build up to four drops at a time and are good for hours.”  Whoops.  A half hour, maybe 45 minutes later, ya, hell ya, I was rather high.  I liked it.  It was exactly the kind of emotional vacation (well, emotional break-time) that I’d been craving.

For those of you totally unfamiliar with marijuana, it doesn’t make you hallucinate or become as unsafe as being drunk.  It relaxes you, maybe makes you think silly thoughts, and allows you temporarily to forget about the serious shit going on in your life.  For chemo cocktail consumers, it is wonderful.

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