I Shot Myself in the Stomach…

29 04 2011
Neupogen shot. Photo by Amy Rauch Neilson.

today at lunch. Right after making myself an egg salad sandwich.

But it wasn’t the first time. Not for the shot or the egg salad sandwich, for that matter.

While it’s true that my chemo regimen was delayed a week, I still didn’t get off scott-free. I had to take a series of three Neupogen shots. The nurse gave me the first one at the hospital Wednesday, at Noon. Then she sent me home with two more.

Usually, Don gives me the injections. But because they need to be timed at precisely 24 hours apart, this round, that took me to Noon on Thursday and Noon again on Friday, when Don’s at work.

Could I find someone to give it to me? Sure. But that’s a lot of work and unnecessary, really, when I can do it myself. Get it over with. Get back to my sandwich.

I was just talking to a Stage 3 breast cancer survivor last night who mentioned that when she read that I’d still be taking Neupogen shots this week, she felt for me. She’s been there, done that, and she knows how painful the side-effects of these shots are.

Not the tiny prick of the needle. That’s no biggie. But the after-effects. Neupogen has a job to do — working in the bone marrow to generate more white blood cells and help to boost the recipient’s counts. That job is accompanied by aches and sometimes sharp bone pain.

The first time I had such a shot was in the summer of 2006, when I was undergoing treatment for Stage 1 breast cancer. I recall my shock at how much the stimulation of the bone marrow hurt. I remember calling my sister, Julie, and describing to her that for the first time in my life, I was aware of every single, individual bone in my skull. Who knew there were so many?

Typically, the side-effects wear off 24 hours or so after the last shot. So, by Noon tomorrow, I bet I’ll be feeling like a million bucks. Let’s hope so. And let’s hope the Neupogen does its job so that next week, my body will be ready for chemo, Round 5.

It’s not fun, but I’ve learned to stay on top of the pain by getting some Motrin into my system beforehand. Distraction is also a beautiful thing. Tonight, I’ll be making a special dessert for my close friend Diane, who is graduating from the University of Michigan tomorrow with a master’s degree from the School of Education. I’m so darned proud of her. I can’t wait to see her cross the stage at Hill Auditorium.

And just wait til she sees the little blue and gold frosted cupcakes adorned with tiny, edible mortarboards and tassles afterwards.

Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson

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