Monday, February 2, 2009

Blood Counts and AC/DC

Today I went in for some more chemOtherapy.  The nurse who came in to draw my blood had frizzy hair and shaky hands.  She had light blue and pink flowered scrubs that looked like guestroom bathroom wallpaper.  She couldn't find my vein and it felt really pokey for a while so she tried my other arm.  I generally like nurses (my uncle, aunt, and brother are all nurses and I am constantly impressed with the way nurses really run the show), and I liked this nurse, but I did not care for the shaky hands.  (Shaky hands don't bother me either except when the person in possession of the shaky hands is sticking a needle in my arm.  My lab partner, who was also one of my best friends in 7th grade, had shaky hands sometimes and we thought that was a real hoot when she was trying to pour some weird liquid into the beaker, right Parnell?). Anyway the nurse took some blood and then Scott and I went to the inclusion room.

I was happy that my seat next to the window was open and we sat down.  My nurse came and gave me my hydration.  For a minute, she couldn't get the machine to work and I thought briefly to myself, can't I get that nurse over there in the sassy blonde bob and fashionable purple and black scrubs?  But then when my nurse got the machine working, I felt bad for being slightly superficial.
Scott and I sat for a while, with him drawing in his sketch book and me playing around on the computer.  I had just put on some headphones to listen to a mix Scott made called Julieemo; or chemo beats I like to call it.  Here comes my nurse to tell me "Your white blood counts are low.  The doc wants to see you.  No chemo today."  And off we go to see Dr. B.

Seems the chemo is making my white blood count and my platelets too low, so we have to hold off on chemo for another week.  I'm supposed to have a full 8 hour day of chemo every three weeks.  Also, I was supposed to start radiAtion this thursday and now we have to postpone that too.  So son of a crap.  Stupid white blood cells.  Stupid platelets.  No, I take that back.  I love my white blood cells.  I love my platelets.  Stupid cancer.

So Dr. B said to not worry too much, because it takes a while to see how one's body metabolizes the chemo drugs and most likely, the Taxol is still in my system and therefore, still shrinking the tumor.  I still felt a little frustrated because I know that some people have to stop treatment, or get less of the prescribed doses because of these types of side effects.

When I got home, I looked in my book called, Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients, by Russell L. Blaylock, MD.  (If I could figure out how to underline that title I would, by the way).  In it I found some suggestions for what supplements to take when blood counts are low.  They include curcumin, folate, sublingual methylcobalamin (what the? - oh it's vit b12) , vitamin b6, vitamin C (buffered as magnesium abscorbate), vitamin E succinate, and niacinamide.  If you are curious about the doses, I would suggest picking up this very helpful book, because I ain't no doctor and can't prescribe this kind of stuff.  But I did go pick it all up (with one of my gift cards to the local grocery and vitamin shop - thank you people; vitamins are spensive).  I will have more blood drawn next week to see if I can continue treatment at that time so stay tuned  to see how the vitaminiminimins work.

So I did all of that then came home and Scott made me a burrito with beans and brown rice and swiss chard.  Scott is my husband, my man, and I mention him every so often.  Let me just say that he is a constant support and if were a metal crafter, I would craft him a shiny medal.  When we gave our vows and talked about in sickness and in health, neither of us had even thought about chemo or blood counts or hair loss or surgery to remove your uterus or nurses with wallpaper scrubs.  Now it is something we think about every day.  He doesn't complain.  He makes me food, brings me movies, makes me mixes, takes Luka skiing, rubs my back where it has been hurting, and works xtra hours at the shop.  When it gets to be too much, he goes for a long walk or plays his drums.  Today he played his drums and now he's going for a long walk.

Scott probably won't like me writing about him, so I'll stop, but I did want to mention his AC/DC shirt.  For some reason, he has worn this shirt on some monumental occasions.  Like when Luka was born.  And when he proposed to me.  It's not as though he woke up and thought about it and said "today I'm going to wear this shirt because today is special." It's more like us going back through pictures and saying "oh look this is the day Luka was born - look you have on your AC/DC shirt," and "oh look this picture was taken right after we got engaged, "look - there's that shirt again."  So when we looked at some photos after I shaved off my hair, it was funny to notice Scott's shirt.  

Blood counts schmud counts.  I'm going to go finish my burrito and listen to Back in Black.


  1. Julie! I just found your blog tonight, finally (after you told me the name, I was spelling it wrong with an extra s, I'm embarrassed to say) and it is amazing.

    I wanted to chime in with my love and good thoughts, and also send some from my mom. She also had Taxol during her second round of treatment for ovarian cancer and it worked really well for her, after the first combination hadn't been that great. When she was recovering we took a trip to Vancouver BC and she found a yew tree and snipped a little bit to keep, since it had given her such a gift. We have some yew bushes in our yard if you'd like some for your house, too.

  2. Right Jules. I have always said that shaky hand folks should definitely stay away from veins and fabrics that hurt people’s eyes (say, JAMS, for example). I remember a day, when you were home from college, that you walked miles and miles from your parent's home off Barker Road to my parent's place -- just because you wanted/needed to. My type-A self thought it was an unproductive use of time. I remember the day, however, because You, on the other hand, had a remarkable sense of calm when you arrived. I'm glad you found Scott. Together, you have the patience to beat this colossal irritation. Love you- Parnell

  3. Wowza! Your postings inspired me to start my very first blog, beginning with the magical moments following our families' last encounter on Superbowl Sunday. It was great to see you all in good spirits, plus Luka and Lilly running around like hug addicts.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with the rest of us. I've forwarded your blog to my Uncle as he starts chemo this week.

    Love the platinum hair!

    Vinh (aka Bubby Reno)

  4. dude, turmeric! put in in your mixes...(curcumin is the magic component in it). this blog is a little loopy, i am thinking...vitamininimins? what else is he putting in those mixes, i wonder...super hella ganja?

  5. thanks anna.
    pretty sure it is the turmeric that is the magic component in curcumin. can find the root at new seasons and also take the supplement 3 times a day. super hella ganja would probably be good too. xo

  6. yeah, anna, julie is really smart and she already knows about turmeric and curcumin and she knows how to spell vitamins too she was just playin' around and her blog isn't loopy so lay off, whydon'tchya? no offense, just watchin' out for my little sister

  7. Anna, I am really sorry. I was out of line up there and I apologize. I know you were only trying to help and it is hard to know what to say and how to say it. Julie is my one and only sister and although I am actually a real nice teacher from Wisconsin, I have just the teensiest anger problem which has blossomed just a tiny bit in light of the developments with my sister's health. In fact, today, when my sweet 7 year old son wasn't getting his pajamas on, I actually said to him, "Owen, I am going to drop kick you out the window." Again, I am sorry that I jumped down your throat and please don't stop posting comments. Julie needs to hear all of them and I promise I won't comment on your comments anymore.

  8. It's okay. Julies lucky to have a big sister like you. She said that we'd all laugh about all of this is ten years when shes running marathons, which I thought was a good point. It's hard to know how to express oneself when up against fear like this. When to joke, when not to. Julie does such a good job keeping her witty wits about her, essentially making other people feel like shes in control. Treating the cancer with a bit of irreverance. Like, I'm worried about the cancer, but not worried about HER. Mind over matter, and with her attitude...

  9. Hey Julie, this is Jenn Hatfield...just thought I'd say "hi" and that I like your blog, though I HATE WHY you are writing it. It is sure a great way to keep everyone's thoughts flowing to you though...I am praying for ya. The marathon comment above made me think of you beating this thing and, like Lance Armstrong, recovering into a super-powered kick-ass athlete, plus with big hair....not 80's big hair, just nice and thick natural stuff!