Chemolog: day 55

October! Apple picking, halloween, pumpkin patches, crisp fall air. I typically love this time of year. Except that I’m now definitely into round 3 and I’m slogging through this thing.

Saturday I woke up really bloated. My normal weight is about 144. I got a shock when I stepped on the scale and it read 152 – up 8 lbs literally overnight – my highest reading yet. Then Sunday, 154! My face has been flushed and swollen. It’s obvious this liquid is retaining in my skin, belly and joints.

I seemed to recall this happening last time but with less severity. So I looked back over my spreadsheet and noticed the same thing has happened each round. This gain is followed by a sharp loss in weight, dipping below average then returning to baseline days later (table below). Originally I thought it was the chemo but I did a bit of research and realized prednisone causes sodium retention & potassium imbalance. It’s also clear that my weight gain due to water retention has been getting more severe by round. Specifically: in round 1 I gained 3 lbs; 6 lbs in round 2; now 10 lbs in round 3. The table below is looking at the difference between my average weight and my weight in the days following chemo (I take prednisone starting that day for 5 days). Not sure the cause of the trend here but I would expect this pattern to repeat such that within then next couple of days the weight falls off quickly to below my baseline, and then I struggle to return to normal.

weight gain due to prednisone water retention. Round 1 I gained max 3lbs; round 2 max 6 lbs; round 3 max 10 lbs due to excess fluid. Ugh!

In contrast to the first 2 rounds I’ve also been a lot more tired in the first days post-infusion. So the prednisone seems to be helping less, or perhaps there’s some cumulative effect at play here. Anyway I spent most of Saturday in bed. Sunday I was really antsy/frustrated and felt a need to move despite my body’s protests. In a moment of inspiration I decided to dust off my wetsuit in the garage. I threw it in the trunk and drove down to Pacifica to try and clear my head – fresh air, sunshine, water. I struggled to put on the wetsuit over my blubbery-feeling body and jumped into the Pacific. And I swam  mostly floated in the water. It’s was glorious! The cold Pacific water buzzed me with a jolt of sensation on my fingers and my bald skull. Did I mention that the chemo drugs have been causing me peripheral neuropathy. The drugs basically damage the nerves in my fingertips resulting in a persistent tingling/numbness. It’s not terribly severe and is reversible but it’s been yet one more small annoyance to contend with.

Later in the afternoon, still feeling this horrible bloating, I thought I might try jogging a bit to see if that helped anything. Bad idea. I could barely take a few steps before my heart felt it might explode – a very tight feeling in my chest. A bit scary actually. So I ended up walking for a bit to try and flush out that feeling of stiffness in my joints and resolve whatever that feeling was all about. Still tight chest and shortness of breath. I was moving so slowly – at one point in a crosswalk I literally had to signal the cars in the street with an outstretched hand like, hang on, thanks for bearing with me, I can make it. Not sure the deal there but I just accepted it and decided to not pushing anything further. Listen to the body.