No chemo today. Whew.
This is my “off” Friday. No chemo today, which is good because the past three weeks really made me tired. Now all I have to do is work on getting my red blood cell counts up to normal before they poison me again.
The last thing I want is a blood transfusion to boost my red cells. That’s an utterly miserable experience. You’re already feeling terrible, then they sit you in yet another blue recliner, pump you full of Benadryl so you don’t react to the foreign blood, hang a giant red bag of blood in front of your face, and slowly drip it and more Benadryl for six hours. If you’ve actually lost blood, they can feed it into you quickly, but if you haven’t lost blood then they have to drip it slowly so they don’t overwhelm your kidneys. Anyway, I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone I know, including me.
The other last thing I want is a Procrit shot to boost red blood cells. Doctors are always thrilled if they can just give you a shot to solve a problem like low red counts, but Procrit has some problems of its own (high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke…). All that to say — pray that the iron-rich foods the naturopath has suggested do the trick.The naturopath is also going to do a blood test to see if I am susceptible to anemia in general (I am… but she has to check) and she thinks in that case an iron supplement along with B-12 will help. Again, I’ll run this by my oncologist before I put any supplements in my mouth. I have always wondered, though, why they don’t just give you iron supplements when they know they’re going to destroy your red blood cells. Another mystery.
I’m also experiencing an odd symptom, or at least one that I think is odd. That is that occasionally I just plain old stop breathing. I’ll be sitting down and realize that I haven’t breathed for an extended period of time. So I have to concentrate on breathing for a while. Maybe the doctors would just call this “slow respiration,” but it’s a strange experience to have to command yourself to breathe.
I know that low red blood cell counts can cause what they call “shortness of breath” because the red cells carry oxygen and when you don’t have them, you don’t have has much oxygen in your system. This kind of shortness of breath is hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it. It’s not the kind where you get short of breath from hard exercise, it’s the kind where you start gasping if you pick up a dish off the table — it’s miserable and just plain wrong on so many levels.
So, this breathing thing could be related to the low reds, or it could be related to the tumor in my lung, or possibly could be some other tumor in my brain pressing on the wrong spot. Let’s pray it’s just the low red cell count. Deal? I tend to think it is because I was struggling to breathe much more a couple of days after the last chemo, and now it’s just happening occasionally.