Thursday, July 17, 2008

Revenge of the paper-pushers

My reward for getting to self-inject my interferon was one of the worst reactions I've had since starting the drug back in April. I picked up the prescription at Fred Meyer yesterday afternoon, and then did the injection myself in the chemo lab at the clinic. I wanted to make sure I got it right, with some oversight by an oncology nurse. That was at about 5. By 7, I was in bed, shaking and teeth chattering in the summer heat. I looked like a heroin junkie in withdrawal.

The chills eventually passed, but I was reminded by this episode that resuming therapy after a three-week hiatus comes at a cost. I feel sort of achy and tired today. The four of us are headed to an Ogle family reunion on the coast this weekend, so I’m planning to have the nurses do the injection early tomorrow morning. That way I can get through whatever the interferon throws at me before we leave, and hopefully feel pretty good for the rest of the weekend. The interferon that’s mixed up by the nurses is less concentrated (but the same dose) than the multiuse pen, which may explain my reaction. The self-injection process is a no-brainer, which is a good thing considering my mental status these days.

It looks like it will take a while to get into a groove with the self-injections. Now that I’ve come through surgery, infusions and radiation (cut, poison and burn), my regimen over the next 10 months or so looks do-able. For now, I plan to tweak the program until I find a way to take the drug and not be made its slave. If things were to continue the way they went last night, I would probably quit. There’s still the issue of white blood cell counts and liver function to consider. If either of them goes haywire, as they did during the infusions, my oncologist would probably want me to suspend treatment. There are a lot of unknowns to deal with.

Unfortunately, I’m not the only one in the family facing medical issues. Ellen has been troubled by sciatic pain for months, and the MRI last week showed two partially herniated disks in her lower back. So for her birthday present today, we’re treating her to a lumbar injection. Our hope is that the steroids will allow the nerves to settle down enough that Ellen can pursue therapy to treat her back. I told her last night that I didn’t appreciate the competition she’s given me for people’s sympathies. One medical case in the family is enough.

By the way, if you’d like to send Ellen a birthday greeting, her email address is


Anonymous said...

Peter: I hope the nurses used your injectable from FM to see if it is that different from the one they mix.
I also hope you all are having fun at the coast. Say Hi to all.

Anonymous said...

Peter: hope you've had a chance to see Greg Norman's incredible performance in the British Open. What an amazing performance over 54 holes in our typical summer conditions! Hope he can keep going on the final day and he can whip the other 150-plus young turks. The Shark provides inspiration to all you 50-somethings!! Keep on battling. Philip

Anonymous said...


I hope the whole family enjoys a relaxing time at the coast.


Anonymous said...

Golf as life allegory

Peter, your friend Philip is entirely correct -
Greg Norman being an inspiration to all of us 50-somethings. Although he didn't win, he overcame the adversity of landing in the bunkers a couple of times with magnificent wedge shots onto the greens. What a great course - Scott and I had the great good fortune of touring it, hole by hole, as guest of the dour Scotsman greenskeeper, back the early '90's when we repped for the British turf equipment company.
At the time, they took great pride in their traditional technique of brushing sand into the aeration slits with hand-made straw brooms.

Take care of yourself - glad you got to go to the beach