Thursday, February 22, 2007
Oxaliplatin & Oxalis - Day 7 of this cycle
Now that I'm a week past my oxaliplatin infusion, I'm feeling better. That is one intense drug! I think one of the reasons the water has tasted so bad has been that the drug messes with my electrolyte balance, and makes many things taste funky. Thanks to the many folks who wrote with suggestions about what warm beverages to drink. Some of them I hadn't thought of! I appreciate the support and the thoughtfulness of your suggestions.
But this post is about flowers, of the family Oxalis, with two of them pictured here. From the beginning, I've been struck by the similarity between the beginning of these two words, oxaliplatin, the chemo drug I'm infused with, and oxalis, which is a lovely flower with three lobed leaves. I've occasionally grown oxalis, as a house plant (they are often sold as "shamrocks" in March, with their three-lobed leaves), but even that's not the story I want to tell. I just tried to look up the origin of the word oxaliplatin, and got nowhere. I do know that it's a "platinum" drug, so that explains the end of its name. I don't know about its beginning. So, here's my oxalis story.
When I was 10 and in fifth grade, I participated in the New Jersey State Grange Spelling Bee. Spelling has always come easily to me, and I had won for my school, and went to the state capital, Trenton, for the state spelling bee. "Way back then," in the 1950s, we didn't prepare as intensively as kids do for state spelling bees (if Akeelah and the Bee is any indication), but I think I did some practicing before going. As the spelling bee went on, I was doing very well. Then there were just two of us left standing on stage. My next word? Oxalis, except that the person reading the words pronounced it "oxy-lis." I asked for a definition, learned that it was a flower/plant, asked for it to be repeated (and wished later I'd asked for alternative pronounciations). With the pronunciation, it sounded most like oxygen, so I went with o-x-y-l-i-s. As you already know, I was wrong. The one contestant still standing spelled her word correctly, and won the state championship.
I was happy to win second place in the state, and to get my picture in the paper. When they asked me to say something, I said it was good that people would now finally hear of "Vincentown," the tiny town in NJ where my family was living. I didn't like being from someplace no one had ever heard of. Aren't ten year olds amazing? Like my getting second place was really going to make a difference! Anyway, I always like telling that story, and I'm pleased I did so well, and I've been fascinated by the flower oxalis ever since. And I wouldn't misspell it again, that's for sure! Lucy is a good speller, too, and it's been fun sharing this story with her as she has worked her way through increasingly difficult words.
So, there's probably no connection between this intense chemotherapy drug and these sweet little flowers. But I have better associations with the drug if I think of the flowers. Tomorrow begins Week 2 of this cycle. I'm hoping for increasingly less cold sensitivity, and increasingly more appetite and that food and beverages will taste better.