Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tired Pill Tirade

This post comes to you straight from my bed. I have been stationed here since yesterday afternoon, when I arrived home from chemo. Since rounds 1 and 2 went "well" (so they say), the nurses were able to administer my meds faster this round. On the plus side, I don't have to hang out in the slightly uncomfortable chair at the clinic for as long. On the minus side, the high speed definitely slammed my hyper-sensitive body with something fierce. After all meds were in and I was de-accessed from my port, I came home and pretty much passed out. I was able to eat some meat and vegetables for dinner, thanks to eMend, which reduces (but sadly, does not eliminate) my nausea. I get to take it again tomorrow, and then I'm back to Zofran, Ativan and sniffing lemon essential oil.

I spent some time chatting with Dr. Henry (my lovable oncologist pictured with me, making my publicly bald debut, above) about the results of my CT/PET scans on Friday. Although the size of the tumor has not changed substantially, he explained that we are making progress. The way the mass breaks apart is akin to peeling the layers off of an onion. So we can expect it to keep getting smaller as the layers dissolve. Dr. Henry also explained my repeated Day 7 drama as connected to the tumor dying. As my body recognizes the cells that don't belong there, it tries to fight them off with fever (even though there has been no connected infection thus far). I enjoy greatly the term "death of the tumor" syndrome, as he put it. The tumor will continue to shrink but this particular lymph node will never go back to normal size (1.5 cm or thereabouts) due to just how large it (recently) grew to be. It will always be a shadow (but without cancer cells when all is said and done) in my mediastinal area (just wanted to use a fancy word there). Dr. says 3 more rounds of chemo are in order and while the possibility of radiation therapy is still on the table, he did not feel it necessary to discuss a plan for it yet.

Today begins the first of 4 days of Prednisone, so I'll start my tirade here. Why, oh, why must they make it taste so bad? It requires a chaser (organic cool whip and strawberries ain't so bad) and still it makes me gag and shudder. This is definitely the worst tasting pill I've ever had to take. PLUS it adds to my nausea, and is best taken with the food I so desperately don't want to eat. So many other pharmaceutical companies coat their pills in some kind of sugar or sweetener to ease the pain of downing one after another. Why not you, Prednisone?

My other complaint in the Department of Pill Swallowing is the size of some of these bad boys. Take, for example, potassium supplements. I had to take these during my Round 1 hospital stay. To describe them as horse pills is an understatement. They are so enormous that the first nurse broke them into halves for me (I was supposed to take 2 wholes and could only do 1 1/2 - I firmly refused to swallow the last 1/2). The second nurse suggested we let the pills dissolve into water and then just chug it. Sounds delish, right? The problem is that the white, sand-like granules are so heavy, they just sink directly to the bottom of the cup. You can stir and mix all you want, but the second you stop to tip the solution into your mouth, most of the pill is left at the bottom, forcing you to add more water and attempt it again and again until you've swallowed your fair share of straight-up potassium. And dude, let me tell you, it is nasty.

Maybe some people are good at swallowing pills. My mother-in-law swallows a whole handful of vitamins at one time. I have never had that kind of ability, but I was at least less afraid to swallow before I was having breathing problems (due to the mass growing near all of my breathing and swallowing parts). Now there's a small panic that occurs before each pill is placed at the back of my throat, praying it goes down smoothly. Each day I take my Colace (gel pill) or eMend capsule (which still seems oversized) or tiny little Ativan, I am thankful that someone out there in pharmacy land was thinking of my very own (panicky) swallowing parts.


PS. This Playdoh lamby has nothing to do with anything written above. He was created during a pre-dinner session with Judah a few days ago. I was just really proud of my lamb (plus Judah is pretty cute too) and felt like showing off my Playdoh skills.


  1. Adorable lamb. Very cute kid. Funny hubby.
    And a seriously gorgeous lady!

  2. Mia,you continue to amaze me.I especially enjoy the fierce Mia. Also,an adorable photo of your son and your lamb:)

  3. Good job on the lamb (uh-oh..........I think I'm channeling my 32 yr-old self with my son!!!!). I'm so jealous that you have a GREAT pic of you w/your oncologist. Now that I'm in "follow up" mode, I will have to do the same. I have hit a "home run" however with both my radiation oncologist (my 'heart' person) and my regular oncologist with my "SAVE 2ND BASE" shirt (sent one to both of them).

    You are a beacon to those who follow you - - - - you're mirroring the loving care & attention & positive attitude you've been infused with throughout your entire life. Yona & Howard are so lucky to see this reflected during their lifetimes.

    Ride the waves, girl !!!! That's all this is for awhile. You're doing GREAT :)

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  5. Love the lamb, hate the pills and I'm going to be bold here--love the head. Yes, you're a lucky one- baldness becomes you. Definitely not your preferred style, but what happens to the poor soul who reveals the look and it isn't becoming? Bold Mia, bold look!

  6. Mama Mia,
    You are beautiful :)

  7. Dear Mia,

    You made a lovely lamb and perhaps it needs to go on artsonia....
    I am so glad you are on Dr. Henry's team and he's on your team...I think I love Dr. Henry, too. Great photo!!

    I think your creativity is in high gear....the blogging and the playdoughing....keep it going.....It's great!! I think you are amazing for sharing it with us...



  8. That "trouble swallowing big pills thing" might just be something that runs in the family. I certainly don't have that skill. I use thickened liquids to help me swallow them. One of my favorites is yogert mixed with a little milk and sugar (I think the Indian's call that a sweet lassie - which is what you are!)
    And I recall that I used to take some anti-nausea medication via suppository so that I didn't upchuck it. Maybe a compounding pharmacist can make up some of your troublesome medications so that you can take them that way. It sounds weird, but might be worth asking.
    Thanks for continuing to share, even when you're feeling really yucky.