2019 started out bad, then got worse. At the beginning of the year my lower back started aching. I figured I had strained something. I treated it with stretching, hot showers, heating pads, and ibuprofen, but it didn't get better. By April I was maxing out on ibuprofen daily. I finally saw a doctor about it. During the exam, the doctor noticed that a lymph node above my collarbone was swollen. There followed various scans and tests and a biopsy, which revealed: fractures in L4 and S1, osteosclerosis, many very swollen lymph nodes, and prostate cancer.
Hormone treatment (Bicalutamide [link] followed by Leuprorelin [link] ) was started in May, and seems to be working. The initial PSA (prostate specific antigen) test result was too high by four orders of magnitude, but is now back down to normal. My lower back is still occasionally sore, but not much, and not often, and ibuprofen still works when I need it.
Chemotherapy was planned to start as soon as possible, but there was a hitch. The first step was outpatient surgery to install a central venous catheter and port [link] . That procedure went well (I got to experience Lidocaine & Fenatanyl & Versed!), but two weeks later - just before the first planned chemo. treatment - some redness appeared in the skin around the port. Blood was drawn, then cultured, and the test came back positive for bacteria: methicillin-sensitive Staph. aureus, otherwise known as MSSA. Not MRSA, thank goodness. I was admitted to the hospital for a week of IV antibotics (Cefazolin [link] ) every 8 hours. The hospital stay and treatment were tedious, and boring, and thankfully both uneventful and successful. While in the hospital the catheter and port were removed.
Once I demonstrated three straight days of clean blood culture tests, I was discharged with a PICC line [link] exiting my right bicep so that I could continue the course of Cefazolin (still every 8 hours) at home - self-administered, but with help available if needed through a home infusion service - for another eleven days. Less boring, but still tedious, and thankfully also uneventful and successful.
There were no further complications. Once the antibiotics course was completed I had the first chemo. session and then the PICC line was removed. For the first time in almost a month I didn't have anything stuck into my arm!
As expected with chemotherapy there has been nausea, fatigue, and weakness. Both candied ginger and ginger candies have helped with the nausea. The fatigue and weakness came on slowly, only really noticeable in November and the first week of December. It got to where I could only walk about 50 yards before my knees got wobbly and pulse was pounding so hard I had to stop and rest. It seemed very odd to be experiencing that without also being out of breath. The good news is, my strength and stamina have started coming back - I could tell the difference when I did some grocery shopping a few days ago. I've started trying to meet daily steps and stairs goals again.
Over Labor Day weekend, just before the second chemo. treatment, most of my scalp hair fell out. It wasn't gradual, it was a sudden and dramatic shedding event. At least it came out evenly, not in patches. I shaved off what was left and surprised my family (aunts, uncles, cousins, parents) with the new look. That was entertaining. I've been letting it grow back for about two months now, and there haven't been any repeats of the shedding event, but if it is still this thin in January I might decide to shave it all off again. Lately I've (continued...)