|Posted by Mark Liederbach on March 16, 2011 at 10:02 PM||comments (1)|
On Saturday, right before attempting to see the Greendale High School Musical “The Pajama Game”, a sharp pain in my left arm appeared. At first I thought it was something to do with my muscles (sleeping the wrong way on it), but then it started to hurt when I inhaled – so I knew something was wrong. From the encouragement of Nicole (once again), I called my oncologist - Dr. Bandealy - who explained that I should go to the ER immediately, because it may be a blood clot. I was taken there via my mom and Nicole and was greeted by awaiting nurses. After multiple attempts at injecting pain medication into me, I was off to the radiology department for several tests. They did CT scans of my chest, abdomen, and brain. They also performed ultrasounds on my arms and legs. The diagnosis was Pulmonary Embolisms – multiple blood clots in the lungs. Apparently this is much more frequent in cancer patients. Dr. Qamar – who was also my hospital physician – said “the tumor markers in the blood stream thicken the blood cells and cause the buildup of clots to become much more likely to occur”.
I was prescribed Lovenox which is injected into the stomach every 12 hours for the next 2-3 weeks. This means I will be injecting myself with this for the next 2-3 weeks … Yikes! Either way I have to man-up and do it (my mom is already calling me very brave!). Tuesday night was when I was released from the hospital, ready to slowly embrace the joys of being done with chemo – which they finally finished earlier that day. The feeling is bitter-sweet. On one hand, I am finally free, there is nowhere to go but improvement; yet now I feel tethered to St. Luke’s, through which I will be receiving blood thinners for likely another year. My warning to people at risk for clots would be to take any necessary precautions, because the consequences of a clot are long-term.
Still, I am glad to finally be home, and preparing for a relaxing week off on Spring Break! Ahhhhh
|Posted by Mark Liederbach on March 5, 2011 at 3:00 PM||comments (2)|
This week was my last full week of Chemotherapy! All that is left of chemo is two more Mondays. I also have a CT scan scheduled that final week, which will be the determining factor as to whether the cancer has sufficiently been treated. Early indications on blood tests and a previous CT scan shows that I am on the right track so far!
Today was a bit harsh for me. I awoke to some bad heartburn caused by the chemo. After taking the appropriate medication from my bag of prescriptions, I am anxiously awaiting the condition to subside. It is causing some nausea and a bad taste in my mouth – which I am hoping will not cause me to vomit. I have been on a lucky streak of not doing so thus far. Let’s hope I can hold out until the end!
Until next time,
|Posted by Mark Liederbach on February 15, 2011 at 12:22 PM||comments (3)|
Yesterday was another treatment of Bleomycin for me. Other than some problems getting my port to give blood early on, the day finished swiftly. My Aunt Jolyn came in from Madison to take me. Afterwards, we went for a bit of Valentine’s Day grocery shopping. That evening, I made Nicole and myself the most delicious rendition of baked Mac n’ Cheese casserole ever! We put bread crumbs and strips of chicken on top for an extra crisp taste. I had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. How were your Valentine’s Days? I know I do not normally ask the reader questions, but I feel very productive today and thought I’d try something new!
Also, some very nice people from the Greendale Patch wrote a wonderful article on me and my blog. I am so grateful to them for getting the word out about my site and furthermore my thanks to ever one of you for your support.
Next week is the last of cycle 2. After that, only one more to go!
|Posted by Mark Liederbach on February 8, 2011 at 9:24 PM||comments (3)|
Today’s entry is a combination of today’s and yesterday’s treatment. I was so tired on Monday that I actually fell asleep the minute I came home. Monday’s treatment went by rather smoothly. I suppose I was still feeling good from the days off last week. I am happy to have that first cycle done. It has been a very bumpy ride so far.
Today was a very interesting day. It started off very similar to Monday’s, but it turned out to be very cool towards the end. Around 3pm today, I was contacted by a journalist from the GreendalePatch.com on the phone to talk about my journey so far. I was very happy to talk to him, and it felt really good to express my entire story to him. I am eager to see where this report goes.
|Posted by Mark Liederbach on February 3, 2011 at 7:04 PM||comments (2)|
The past few days have been very interesting. My blood cell count was lower than normal on Monday, so my week has been a bit on the safe side (staying inside more, spraying everything with Lysol, etc.). It was nice to have another week of classes to attend – the snow day happened to have fallen on the day between my two classes.
Monday was a very quick trip with my dad to chemotherapy. Once again, it was just the Bleomycin again. It also signals my official end to the first cycle! There are only two more rounds left. Next week, I start this process all over again. I’m not looking forward to it very much. Also, in case you were wondering how my prediction of how I would feel this week would turn out, it’s been simply okay. I would say it was as good as last week, but hey, the week isn’t over yet, right?
Another update: This is a rather funny story. On Monday, Jason (remember Jason? First day of Chemo) asked how my hair was going. I told him it was hanging in there. He then said that his went on one day – day 16. We had this conversation on day 15. Tuesday was full of anticipation. I was just waiting for my hair to come falling out. And finally, it started happening. I was able to gently rub my hand through my hair and come out with a clump in my fingers. It was a scramble to figure out what to do. Finally, I asked Nicole, Jordan (my roommate), and Anton (my RA) to help buzz it off. I’m not necessarily bald, but my hair is very short, and still comes out when I touch it. Being short helps it be less noticeable, and it really gives me time to say goodbye to it. I will post a picture of what it looks like soon.
Until next time,
|Posted by Mark Liederbach on January 24, 2011 at 4:47 PM||comments (2)|
Today was a shorter day in the infusion room. I woke up about two hours early and could not quite convince myself to fall back asleep. When I arrived at the clinic, I suddenly felt very faint and light-headed. Until this point, I have managed to hold back any 'episodes' of nastiness, and today was a challenge. Thankfully, the nursing staff worked quickly to 1.) Bring my temperature down to a normal level, and 2.) Giving me some anti-nausea medicine through my port. Once that was over, the day went pretty efficiently.
I only had the Bleomycin injected today, which took only a couple of hours (in addition to the consultation with a physician assistant). Overall, I was happy today was over with quickly, though I did not have it too bad. After the session, I went with my dad to Perkins for some breakfast - a treasure anyone going through chemo may remember is scarce (appetite) - and then headed back for Milwaukee. We stopped to pick up my two new prescriptions for heartburn and nausea, and then drove back to Whitewater.
My first time in class is tomorrow. I am very excited to finally attend the college I have been living in for over a week now! So far, it looks as though the semester will be quite a journey!
|Posted by Mark Liederbach on January 21, 2011 at 2:00 PM||comments (2)|
Though I was not updating my blog yesterday, I was having a surprisingly good day. I actually managed to get in some physical activities including some light jogging and stationary bicycle work. Thankfully – due to the recent frigid weather – I did not have a problem maintaining a stable internal temperature. It felt really nice to do activities that were reasonably normal. Perhaps the biggest aspect of this treatment is how one personally manages its effects. Everyone has a different experience with chemo, but I was driving myself crazy thinking day and night of the medicine, the anxiety, and the nausea. I was desperate for some ordinary life.
Another nice surprise I had just today was the unexpected Skype video call from my brother Erik who is currently 12 hours ahead in Kazakhstan. He gave me a tour of his home, said hi to my little niece Adelaide and of course Deanna, and caught up with Erik. It really helped to talk with him (Erik if you read this, THANKS).
I am looking forward to these next couple of days off from chemotherapy. I just hope time goes just as slowly then as it can in the infusion room!
|Posted by Mark Liederbach on January 19, 2011 at 2:28 PM||comments (3)|
After the mini-crisis the happened toward the end of day 2, I brought up the situation to Donna (my main chemo nurse on many occasions) who had a good laugh at the ingenuity of the juice box solution. Moreover, this morning was less than a spectacular start to the day. I woke up with the thought of the medicines that would be ‘pumped’ into me. The idea of this made me feel very nauseous. By the time I came into the clinic, I shared my feeling of anxiety with Donna. Before I could even finish my sentence she had done so for me! She told me it was called an anticipatory anxiety where the thought of the fluids themselves invoked a feeling of uneasiness in my stomach.
After Donna assured me this was not uncommon, she prescribed a medication I am going to take in the morning before chemo and see if this fixes the situation. After receiving a test dose today, I think I have high hopes it will help tremendously. In a matter of minutes, I went from a feeling of low, weak, and sickened body to a conversational productive person who actually managed to write an English paper today – as well as this very blog post! With this in mind, I think I just might have a fighting chance of making it through the rest of this week with my stomach contents intact!
Believe it or not, I find myself eager to make it back into class next week. I have done nothing but communicate my school work via email to all of my professors (all two of them, really). And while I have heard that week 2 is when the hair thinning process typically begins, I just remember my being bald last year for the musical “Annie” and I take some pride in the shiny jewel I have been told lies beneath.
|Posted by Mark Liederbach on January 17, 2011 at 2:28 PM||comments (4)|
Today (as I type this in fact) I am receiving my first dose of my 9 week treatment. With all of the pre-meds and test doses, I can’t say I feel too well. It was also my first use of the port. Honestly it is quite an ingenious thing really. As I was lying in my chair (see picture for what the chair looks like), with Nicole and my Dad to my right, Nicole – who is way more social than I think I’ll ever be – struck up a conversation with the young man sitting in the chair to my left. We got to talking quite a bit. His name is Jason. He is on his end of his 2nd cycle of chemo. I was talking about his life with cancer, and it truly made me feel a lot better, making many of my nerves go away. Jason started chemo at the same time his wife had their first child (about one month ago). He described his active lifestyle, which truly brought a lot of hope to me. He talked about snowmobiling and running.
“The more active you are, the less sick you’ll feel. If you sit around all the time, your illness will only compound” he said. It was really nice talking to him; and the nice part is, since we are all on Monday-Friday regiments, I know I’ll probably see him next Monday.
The nurses are incredibly nice. One retrieved a warmed blanket for me. They really do a great job of making the process a little less uncomfortable.
Not to be mistaken with the hotel treatment, once the main medicine was injected, I sure felt a very disserting feeling throughout my body. The only way I could describe the feeling would be a cold, tingly, churning sensation. I could feel the pit of my stomach waging a battle with all of the different chemicals inside me. As Jason put it, the worst is going to be the 2nd week – a week I wouldn’t mind skipping.
|Posted by Mark Liederbach on January 15, 2011 at 5:33 PM||comments (0)|
My Pulmonary Function Test was an interesting experience this morning. I was
seated in what resembled a miniature old-time telephone booth. There was a mouthpiece attached to a long hose. I had to do many different types of breathing patterns including panting like a dog (I would say that one was my favorite). Overall, it was actually a rather humorous time. It sounded like my lungs are in prime condition. I can breathe in 6 liters of air in a single breath. I know it's not any world record but it sure impressed me!