Well I didn't get a fifth dose. Four were all my body could handle this time. My doctors were very happy that gave me a total of 14 doses though, so I believe good news is on the horizon. Also, my TIL cells are growing! So that is fabulous news. This round of IL-2 was a lot more difficult than the first. I didn't have hallucinations and the horrible headache that I did last time, but I feel like I have been run over by a truck. Also, because my blood pressure and urine output decreased so significantly, I was hooked up to all kinds of monitors, including a blood pressure machine that automatically took my blood pressure every 30 minutes, electrodes monitoring my heart, and a catheter. Because I was hooked up to so many things, I was confined to bed. And while some of the symptoms were different this time, the diarrhea remained. Which meant that I had to go in a bed pan about 20 times a day and someone (whomever was my nurse at the time) had to clean me. This was by far the most embarrassing part yet. A number of the nurses were consoling me and telling me it's just part of their jobs, but still, the indignity was horrendous. The ICU is a little different than the regular unit (or as they all it "the floor"). Every room is private and there are funny toilets right in the rooms without doors or curtains or anything. But I guess most people aren't able to get up and use them, so it would be wasteful to have regular bathrooms. This time I can hardly eat anything - the nausea is worse and I was so afraid that I would have to use the bed pan that I was wary to chance it. Finally yesterday around 6:00pm, I was able to come off of the blood pressure medicine, and then this morning they removed the catheter. So now we are waiting to be transferred to the regular unit. Dr Phan said I would be in the regular until for a few days. But one exciting thing is that we already know I'm getting another private room, so that's fantastic. Right now my arms and legs are extremely painful and my skin is peeling off my face and back again. I think it's going to happen to my legs as well, but we shall see. I feel pretty good, considering, and am hopeful for another fast recovery. I'm also excited at the prospect of a shower. After this one, we wait 3 weeks and then get a scan. If the scan shows the IL-2 is working, then I have to do this twice more. If not, then I guess we'll do the TIL cell treatment. The other night, when Dr. Hong was telling me that my cells were growing, he also mentioned that I had unique protein in my tumor called MAGE (which Dr. Schaub told me during the first round). He said, "You are golden. We have so many options." And for that I am thankful. Next up is medication to help me lose the water weight - I'm guessing it's about 20 pounds this time, but I haven't been weighed so I'm not exactly sure. Then we just wait out the recovery a little longer until we go home. I wish I were home now, because my cousin and his family are visiting from Boston, but I'm glad they are getting to spend time with Kai (who, by the way, slept from 9:00pm until 6:00am last night!).
Today I am thankful for the wonderful nurses in the ICU (Lori, Jackie, Heather, and Evette) who, in my opinion, went above and beyond the call of duty to help me the past few days; the always fabulous nurses on the regular floor who are pulling for me and whom I am excited to see again shortly; milkshakes from food services, which are sometimes the only thing I can tolerate; the beautiful sign of support from MMG that is hanging in my room giving me strength; my fabulous friends and family; and as always, my absolutely terrific husband Jeff who slept overnight with me in the ICU, and our most perfect baby Kai. Keep up the good work, my love, learning to sleep is only the most recent amazing thing you've done. I look forward to seeing a lifetime of more amazing things.