Hi all, I thought you might be interested in a trip to chemo with me (I have a vague sense that I did this one other time, oh well). My treatment is set for 1:30 and it is now 1:20. I stopped at the counter when we arrived and got my hospital bracelet on. I am now sitting in a waiting area writing this and listening to a couple of guys talking sports. Tom is using his IPad to proofread an essay for our daughter. I brought my cell, on which I am writing this, and my Nintendo 3DS.
Based on the lack of coats hanging on the rack, I would say there aren’t as many people today as usual, though I’m off my regular schedule by a week.
It is now 2:00. I was called in about 10 minutes late and chose a spot I haven’t sat in before. It is back in the corner and has a window and some extra space which is nice. I have since been weighed, had vitals taken and had the IV hooked up to the port in my chest. The needle that goes in hurts more than a regular needle because it is quite a bit bigger. There is no missing or hunting for veins though so it is a net gain. There are also all kinds of health questions they ask; fevers, tingling, eating ok, change in taste, swelling, bruising, digestion, bowels etc.
Now we are waiting for the drugs to be mixed up to get the actual treatment going. I took my anti-nausea medications. I’ll play my game for.a.bit…2:30 still waiting. I was getting cold so Tom got me a heated blanket, best thing about the hospital!
2:32 Oh…here come the drugs (I prefer the term drug to poison)! The nurses wear different jacket things and eye protectors when they bring the drugs…a little strange. So now we are doing the first drug which the nurse puts into the system using a syringe so she can control the flow. It is red and Tom was joking about it being Kool-aid. Now for the regular drip.
3:07 drip drip drip. I decorated a house in Animal Crossings Happy Home Advisor. The IV bag is almost empty…switching over to saline. My nurse just dropped off a medication schedule for the next few days.
In a couple minutes they will unhook me and we will head home. We are finished, at 3:30, I think we’ll stop at Dairy Queen on our way home.
It seems a little hard to believe right now, as I am huddled under my electric blanket with a fleece throw over my shoulders, but I have every reason to believe that tonight I will once again become a woman on fire.
It is chemo day. If the experience of my other two treatments holds, that means that this evening, and especially while I am trying to sleep, I will overheat. If you are familiar with the tv show Dr Who then you will know what I mean by regeneration. For those who don’t, it is when the Dr changes to a new body. Anyway, that’s what I feel like. Like heat, if not flame, is pouring out of me with no sign of stopping. Watch this little clip of River Song regenerating to see what I mean. Doctor Who – Melody Pond Regeneration
So, there is no screaming, and I don’t turn out to have a different body at the end, but the sort of blow torch extremities part, that is pretty accurate. I must say, I was never more glad that I have lost my hair than I was the first couple nights after my last treatment! I have taken some steps to prepare this time. I have actually broken down and spent the seemingly ridiculous amount charged for moisture wicking pajamas, most often marketed to women in menopause. I have also searched for tips, like take a hot bath before bed. I know! Hot!?! Apparently it tricks your body or something. It is like the thing about drinking hot tea in the heat, which cools your body. I don’t get it, but I’ll try it!
Of course it is possible that I will not have the same reaction to the treatment this time and the expensive pjs will just be a nice addition to my sleepwear collection. That is one of the other joys of chemo, I’m told, you don’t necessarily have the same symptoms every time, even when the drug is the same. In the meantime, here I sit as my normal chilly self contemplating life.
Twas the night before chemo and all through the house
not all creatures were sleeping, not just me and my spouse.
The clock at my bedside read quarter to four
and we needed to sleep those three hours more.
I will spare you any more bad parody of Clement Moore’s poem for now! As I write this it is actually the day after chemo, my second treatment, but I had the first line of this going through my head all day on the 27th. It felt a bit surreal to me because, even though only 3 weeks, it felt like forever since the first treatment. So much has happened, most all of it good. I had the procedure to implant the power port last week, and munch of my hair is gone from my head, but other than that things are good. I’ve had visits and dinners with family, my birthday and Christmas and visits with my colleagues at the school.
I did get those three hours more sleep before getting up for a shower and heading off to the hospital with my husband for company and support. My first stop was the blood lab to get a test to see that my blood and platelet count was enough to have the treatment. Then we went for breakfast at the cafeteria, where I got a great bowl of oatmeal without having to worry about cleaning my pot afterwards. I may also have stolen a couple slices of Tom’s bacon.
Next was my oncologist appointment at which we found out that the measurement was down from 17×15 to 13×11! The chemo is indeed doing what it is supposed to be doing. My doctor was happy with this, as were we, and all was well for treatment number two of six. We went home for a bit, with a side stop at the gift shop to buy a cute new purse I had seen last week, since the chemo wasn’t for almost two hours.
The chemo infusion went smoothly and it was awesome to not have vein hunting involved, especially as at about the same time two men across from me had warm blankets wrapped on both arms and then went through numerous attempts to get a vein. They had gauze pads all over their arms before they finally got hooked up! Yeek! All my nurse had to do was clean the skin over the port and stick in a bent type of needle and cover it up and we were off to the races. Complete with waiting for the drugs to be mixed, we were done in two hours and headed home.
Last week I met with my counselor and one of his questions was about what I expected to be thinking as poison was flowing into my veins. At the time I said I mostly expected to be trying to think about something else.
Today was my first chemo treatment. I had an IV inserted and then two different drugs. So what did I actually think about? I spent most of my time colouring, but when I thought about the IV my primary thought was, “You’ve had free reign up until now but that is all over. Die cancer cells, die!”
My husband found the area busy and loud, but I enjoyed the fact that there were other people nearby and several offered advice, or to answer any questions I had. We talked about port locations and their pros and cons. I think I would have been more nervous if I had been alone in a room. The nurses were great and I had a nice reclining chair. All-in-all, not a bad first experience.
If you are a mother, you will probably have experienced that time during the last month or so of pregnancy when you decide that you don’t want to go through with it after all. For me, it was during childbirth classes when they showed hard plastic templates of 1cm – 10cm holes. If they hadn’t followed up with a video in which it became clear that dilation meant being able to be stretched to 10cm and not just having a 10cm opening, I’m pretty sure I would have remained panicked until my daughter was actually born!
I guess that is where I am now. I have rationally taken in the information, I understand the upcoming treatment and its purpose. I have made plans for the day, what to take with me, what to do during the treatment etc. I just really don’t want to do it. I know I said in my last post that I was glad to be getting started, and really I am, but I would prefer not to.
I’m going to go with the theory that, just as childbirth may have been easier than I thought (well not at the time, but in retrospect) this probably won’t be very pleasant, but the resulting reduction of the cancer will be well worth it. Right?
The actual news from yesterday’s appointments at the hospital is that I am starting my chemo next Wednesday. Woohoo!
No really, I’m pretty excited that I am finally going to be doing something to counter this assault on my body! I remember when I was first diagnosed and told that chemo wouldn’t be part of it, I was so thankful. I didn’t really like the idea of poisoning myself on purpose or of the side effects making me actually feel ill, which so far I have not. I remember my dad talking about chemo in the early days…a day of poison and then they give you an antidote so you don’t actually die. Hmmm.
Things have changed a lot and they have learned so much more about the disease and treatments! It was actually two years ago today that I watched my dad walk (seemingly totally healthy) into the operating room to have a colonoscopy. When he came to in his room he joked that he wouldn’t be driving anywhere that day! The surgery went well, but in the end he never did drive again. In his eighties, he was not strong enough to recover and died a couple days before Christmas.
OK, so back to me 😉 Other things I didn’t think I would say started with, “I have cancer.” but the ship sailed on that a couple months ago. Since then I have said that a lot, as well as; “I had a CT scan.” “I’m going for a bone scan.” “This MRI was much nicer than the last one.” “That biopsy was easier.” It also includes requesting a central line for treatments and whatever else may need to be given or taken from my veins. I am pretty practical and it makes sense to me, but it is a bit eerie to think about.
Of course there are the ‘bright side comments’ along the way like; “Ooh, I’ve always wanted to be a VIP!” “At least I won’t have to shave my legs for months!” “I get a great rate on hospital parking!” etc.