Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chemo: Round 2, Day 1

Yesterday was Day 1 of Round 2 of my chemotherapy. It was, as every first day of the cycles will be, a long day: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. But how long it takes is not important, as long as it works. Today I go back for a short session and again tomorrow, and then 30 days off.

It was pretty uneventful. I did a lot of reading as I sat there, which isn't a bad thing. I finally finished a condensed (not very, still 390 pages) compendium of the writings of Thomas Paine (African Slavery in America, 1775; Common Sense, 1776; The American Crisis Papers, 1776; Rights of Man, 1791; The Age of Reason, 1791; and Agrarian Justice, 1797).

"History is to subscribe the American Revolution to Thomas Paine," wrote John Adams, I suspect out of jealousy more than admiration. Common Sense is what he is best known for, but in my opinion the least well written and least powerful of the lot. (The French Revolution was also fueled by his writing, esp. The Rights of Man, which he wrote in France as one of the founding committee of the that revolution.)

Anyway, back to the medical stuff:

I have noticed, now that I have had two experiences of this "day 1 routine," that it affects my lungs and bronchial tubes for a couple of days, a side effect that I have not read affecting anyone else. It's a sort of inner pain that I feel when I inhale deeply, like the linings of all the tubes have stiffened up. The first time, last month, I thought it was a result of having thrown up that first time (not an uncommon reaction) and ingesting a bit of the yucky stuff, but here it is again, without that messy cause. Not a big deal. It's tolerable and should fade away in a couple days, as it did last time

It isn't July. The Tour de France isn't on television, but Lance Armstrong still inspires me. I ride my bike at least every alternate day. As the weather has turned colder and the day length shorter, I have been riding indoors. I mounted an older bike on a device called a "cycle-ops" stand that allows me to adjust the pressure against the back wheel and simulate what it takes to ride outdoors. Then I hooked up a pulley on the ceiling straight above each shoulder, running a rope with a perpendicular dowel handle up through it and six feet back to two other pulleys, and down to a water jug and the end of each. So I can do weight lifting (well, downward, anyway) and stretching in a variety of directions while riding. It's clunky looking, but very effective and cost me about seven dollars for the four pulleys. And I can adjust the weight easily by just adding or removing water. I can feel the difference it is making in my shoulders.

Since January, when I seriously began this bike riding regimen and being much more careful about what I eat, I have gone from 193 pounds (I suspect at least five pounds of that, maybe ten, was swollen lymph nodes and tissue) down to 175. Most days that's where I weigh-in. That is about where I ought to be, anyway. I was looking at an old travel diary I wrote for a 1973 tour group I organized and noted there I weighed 170 then.

I continue to work via Internet from home, in a self-imposed quarantine against both kinds of flu. My employer seems less than thrilled about that, but has accomodated it. I'll monitor the ups and downs of the epidemics and see when it might make sense to return to my office desk.

Thanks for all the calls and cards of encouragement. They are precious.