Chemo Rounds 3 and 4, and another “trip in the tube”

After my terrible second round of chemo (which I wrote about here and here), my third round’s dose was reduced by half, and was lower than any of the other doses I have had so far. So— it felt pretty mild, and my labs didn’t budge at all. My doctors were happy that I tolerated it so much better, but I felt like the goal was overshot. No, I don’t want any more transfusions, but I also think that if I see my labs bump a little that must mean the chemo is working… I mean– something should happen, right? I know that isn’t actually the way it works, but I also know it didn’t feel like I was pummeling these tumors with a lower dose of chemo.

After a pretty easy round 3, my dose was just slightly increased for round 4. So far so good– my 5th round should happen in 2 weeks, so we’ll see what my labs do– fingers crossed. I’ll hopefully be able to slowly increase the dose again with the next cycle. #goals.

I had my 6th brain MRI last week– luckily it was “stable” – brain tumor talk for good news, or at least– not bad news. Sure it would be great to hear that things had improved– but, that doesn’t always happen. As long as things are the same, that’s supposed to be good enough.

Celebrating my stable MRI

I wish there was a way to get a picture from the patient perspective in the MRI machine. You’re lying on your back with your head stabilized with a kind of cage– you can see through it, but it definitely obscures your vision. Your bed noisily and smoothly rolls backward into the machine. The tube you are in is so brightly lit, everything inside is bright white. Your face is about 3 inches from the top surface. But when you focus your eyes on this surface– there’s a scratch. A gray scratch that is in kind of a large cursive scribble shape. How in the hell did that get there? What is the story behind this scratch? There is no way — even if you wanted to touch this surface that is so close to your face– that you could. Did a patient do it in a fit? Was it etched there somehow when this MRI machine was made? Someone should explain this, because I bet everyone is wondering.

I’ve started to ask for a mirror when I have MRIs. This clips onto the head cage and allows me to look out past my feet into the MRI room. There’s usually a little window into the MRI tech room so I can watch them rocking in their chairs during my exam. It’s a good thing to ask for if you are even a little claustrophobic. You can at least pretend you aren’t in a tiny space by looking at people who are outside of the tiny space you are, in fact, in.

MRIs are noisy and each imaging sequence has its own repetitive noise. BEEP BEEP BEEP. BOOP BOOP BOOP. WEEWAA WEEWAA WEEWAA. Before the exam starts you have ear plugs and then headphones to try to dim some of it out, but it’s still incredibly loud. Even music coming through the headset gets drowned out. I’m not very good at meditating, but MRIs are good motivation to practice. If I could put my mind somewhere else for that hour, I bet it would make the whole thing more tolerable. Thankfully I’ll have lots of opportunities to practice!

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