Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Update 7/21/10 The Toxic Avenger

Had chemo today, so far so good.  Julie & I arrived at the drs office about 8:45 am.  I had my BaileyWorks messenger bag filled with a couple of books, headphones, PB&J sandwich, a liter of San Pellegrino water, and a small box of cookies for the other patients & staff (I hope to only be going through this one time, these poor people have to get treatments all the time).  I also had in my pocket my iphone with a recently rented movie on it (The Man Who Would Be King), and a small card/charm for Saint Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer patients which Julie had picked up for me at the National Cathedral.

Side note:  I love San Pellegrino water, so it was somewhat ironic to find out that Saint Peregrine (as noted above, the patron saint of cancer patients) in Italian in San Pellegrino.  I was doubly blessed...

So after checking in and paying my copay, I had my vitals taken and then went back to the treatment room.  There were a dozen or so padded chairs with side tables attached to each arm.  I rested my left arm on a pillow on the left side table while Julie laid out my book (The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest) and water.  The nurse spent a few minutes getting the iv needle into my hand (not farther up in my forearm, which surprised me), shot in a syringe of saline, and then started to get together my various medicine bags. 

I was the only patient at the time, maybe 9:30 by now.  As they connected my first drip, a combo steroid and anti-nausea medication I think, I had Julie head back to her office (teary-eyed).  There was no pain and I was able to recline the chair and relax and start reading.  I was nervous, of course, but able to lose myself for the most part into my book.

The first bag took about 30 mins to drip into my vein, and was followed by five minutes or so of a smaller saline rinse bag.  About this time, maybe 10:15 or so, 4 other patients had arrived so there were minor delays in getting the bags changed.  By 10:30 the chemo bag had started.  It was a relatively big bag, and set at a slow drip.  Maybe one drop per every 2-3 seconds.

By 11 am I was hungry and had consumed about 1/2 of my bottle of water.  I was also a good ways into the book.  I leisurely ate my PBJ and drank the rest of the water over the next 45 mins or so, and at noon I was disconnected from the drip bag and went to the bathroom.  The chemo bag was about 1/2 empty.  When I came back, I was reconnected and the drip started again.  Unfortunately the restart on the drip was going even slower, maybe one drop ever 6-10 seconds.  Unfortunate b/c no one, myself included, noticed this. 

Julie had come back to the office about 12:45, my thinking originally was that I'd be finished by 1:30.  But the bag was still a 1/3 full b/c of the slow drip at that time, and the nurses noticed something was wrong and got it moving at a faster speed.  Two drips per ever 2-3 seconds.  Still I would have at least another hour there, maybe 1.5, so Julie walked to a nearby grocery store to pick up a few things for us for the week. I took the opportunity to disconnect and pee again (Julie had brought me another San Pellegrino), but that was a 5 min delay at the most.

By 2:30 Julie was back and the drip bag was just about empty.  Several other patients had come (and gone), everyone was in a jovial mood.  The cookies I'd brought in had been passed around and everyone seemed to like the treat.  When my bag finished, I had another 5 minute saline drip, and then was disconnected for good.  I had to give blood for testing, but the needle in my hand wasn't producing good quantities of blood so I had to get stuck in my forearm.  But after filling a test tube with blood I was disconnected and finished for good.

I went to the bathroom one last time, and when I came back I got blasted with silly-string by one of the nurses.  They have a little celebration after your last chemo treatment, this was my first and last (I hope forever) so I had my celebration same day.

We said our goodbyes and walked from the office back to the metro (about 5 blocks) and took the train back to our neighborhood (2 stops).  I was tired, I guess, but didn't really feel bad at all.  I suspect the tiredness was more from lying down reading all day, not medicine.  I'd also gone running in the morning as usual, although only 3.5 miles.

When we got home Bica was super excited to see us.  I usually come home at lunch around noon, so here it was 3 hours later that normal.  We took her on a walk around the neighborhood, then picked up milkshakes and went home.  After milkshakes Julie made BLTs, and while my stomach was now feeling uncomfortable that was from the milkshake-BLT combo, not any drugs.

I know this is the calm before the storm, once those steroids wear-off I'll be fatigued and nauseated.  But the day-of treatment wasn't bad at all, and hopefully the anti-nausea meds I have will keep the worst of the symptoms at bay. 

I go back to the drs office on Wednesday morning to give more blood so they can check my white & red blood counts, and the markers.  The Friday after I give blood I have an appointment with the doctor to go over the results of that blood test and to see how I'm feeling.  I'll have to give blood again the next week, and probably the week after that.

I'll report back certainly after the Friday appointment, but maybe earlier if the things get worse (or hell, better).

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