So, I’m getting the fourth chemo treatment today, February 6, 2019. It takes place in Fayetteville at my doctor’s office, not a hospital. It’s in a large room surrounded by windows so it feels welcoming. There are about 20 Lazy Boy recliners that patients sit in while getting the IV bags of chemo drugs. There’s nothing painful about getting the chemo, just waiting around for the six or seven IV bags to empty. The process takes about four or five hours for my particular treatment.
I feel great, absolutely normal today. The past couple of days it hasn’t even seemed like I have cancer. Side effects from last week were minimal so that’s been great. The strongest side effect has been cold sensitivity, akin to neuropathy. It means I can’t hold or drink anything cold for about a week after the treatment. Initially That only lasted a couple of days so the effect is lasting longer as I get more treatments. That’s normal though and in fact it’s not uncommon for the effect to linger for months after treatment stops. I think it’s the most preferable of the possible side effects.
After getting a scan on Monday morning, December 3, I expected that I’d get the results back by the week’s end so I was surprised when my doctor called me back late that afternoon. Especially surprised that he personally called. The initial nicety of a personal call from a doctor was quickly overshadowed as I realized what he was telling me. The radiologist had called him, said that my scan appeared to reveal colon cancer and it didn’t look good. This meant that we needed to quickly take action. The colonoscopy appointment scheduled for mid-December was re-prioritized for two days later.
Thankful that my employer allows and even encourages exercise during the lunch break, it’s made working out much easier to fit into my life. Over the past couple years I’ve probably averaged a workout 3.5 times per week which has brought many great benefits; lower blood pressure, increased flexibility, strong cardio, and strengthening. It’s been a surprise and a joy to create exercise rhythms and routines that fit me so well.
On November 5, 2018 however, as a coworker and I went to run a 5k and something in my body didn’t feel right. I felt full or bloated in my torso but I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. So, instead of trail running, my favorite exercise/thinking time, I opted to stretch for 30 minutes. I figured I’d be fine the next day since I’ve found (in my 40’s) that the body just does odd things sometimes.
To my surprise, I didn’t feel much better the next day or even the rest of the week. For the first time in a couple of years, I didn’t exercise for the entire week. That ended up extending through all of November and this stuck out to myself and coworkers that something was wrong. So, I played around with my diet over the next several weeks; increased fiber, decreased fiber, went low fat, and finally went to a liquid diet. On top of the bloated feeling, I began to experience seemingly random pains in my abdomen and back. I found it increasingly difficult to get comfortable whether I was standing, sitting, or even sleeping.
During this time, I began seeing my doctor but I didn’t really present him with any clear direction. My complaints varied from my upper right side, to my lower back, to my lower left side. We did several scans during November but nothing came back as the smoking gun.
During the first weekend of November, I ran a fever and for the first time felt a few stinging pains in my lower left side. (In retrospect, I think the fever was simply a brief cold.) This increased sense of urgency led me to get a full abdominal scan the morning of Monday, December 3. At this point, I wasn’t really concerned about what they would find, neither surgery, disease, or anything serious was in my mindset.
Starting off this new blog, thought I’d start with a fun entry. Back in October, I ran the Peachtree City 5k along with my kid’s Cross Country team. I had gotten into a routine of exercising for 30 minutes most days so my cardio was in pretty good condition. I was a bit nervous because I wasn’t in the habit of running 3 miles but I was able to complete the race in a good time without feeling exhausted in the process.
At this point, I had no idea of any health issues. I had my annual physical on October 30 and all the markers indicated great health.