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Getting Ready for BCG #3 of 3 - November 13, 2008

Posted May 07 2009 9:25pm
Today is the last of the BCG treatments for this round, then 12 weeks off. Last week's side effects were every bit as strong as BCG #6 of my initial round. I have only heuristic evidence to support my conjecture that my full dose two weeks ago got the bladder up and running, so the half dose last week had no reduced effect. And I suspect that even if we drop to 1/3 dose, which is the minimum for which effectiveness evidence is published, this week will be worse still. I do have hope that we will just stay at 1/3 dose in the future (unless new evidence is published), and so next time MIGHT be better all around. Even if not, I can "tolerate" it. I should have no complaints - my full series of BCG treatment symptoms taken together are not as bad as even ONE round of chemotherapy, and radiation is even worse! That's great perspective, and we should have tremendous respect for those who have gone through that misery. Even so, in the quiet morning before going in for another treatment, it does not mean the day will pass without some unpleasantness.

Last week's treatment packed another surprise. The right lower back sharp pain and cramping was much worse. Dr. Hopkins said it was to be expected. One of the tumors was near the right ureter, and inflammation of the tissue and scar tissues in that region can result in some discomfort. I suppose I'm relieved that it's not a sign of kidney stones. The situation is improved somewhat by standing to urinate, which is not permitted until at least 8 hours after instillation, due to BCG handling protocols.

In any case I was back to 85% by Friday night, and we celebrated by going out for a quiet dinner. Went back to work Monday and hit things hard - we have an unlimited backlog of things to do these days. Same again on Tuesday until 3PM, at which point my brain simply switched off. I could not read through anything of substance, and I could not write anything from scratch. After taking some care, I found that I could cut and paste text and numbers into a document to write about later. By 4:30 I figured the company was not getting their money's worth based on my productivity per hour, so I went home "early" and lay in a dark room for a couple of hours. Slept in on Wednesday morning, and felt very alert mentally for the work day. But I felt physically drained, much like one feels a day or two after recovering from a cold or influenza. All normal BCG reactions, and to be expected. I'd had these symptoms before the day of or the day after a treatment, but having them a full five days later was an annoying surprise. Had a fairly productive Wednesday at work, and felt pretty "normal" by that evening. I'm guessing that this round will be a bit more intense, and the symptoms may bite me throughout next week. Hopefully 10 days from now all will be well again for twelve more weeks!

I will probably wait until late in the day tomorrow before I post the details of this week's BCG experience. Thanks again for all your support!
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