a day in chemotherapy

*** I wrote this post bit by bit yesterday while I was actually in  chemotherapy, but I was too wiped to add the pictures and post it, so it is going out a day later.  Sorry, but better late than never, right?***

someone brought spring to the chemo room 🙂

It’s round four, the one we have been looking forward to.  After this round comes the scans, which my doctor expects to be clean of cancer.  Those will be in a couple of weeks, and not surprisingly, I can’t wait.

The day started less than ideally when I woke up with a pretty nasty headache.  Sam had already eaten at a 6:00 a.m. men’s prayer breakfast (bless his heart!) so I grabbed a biscuit at MickyDee’s on the way.  At 9:10 we arrived at the hospital that houses the Cancer Center.  All of the oncology patient parking spaces were taken, so Sam dropped me at the door and had to look for a spot.  (Sam stayed with me for the whole day, which has been such a blessing.  I have been indulged and pampered like a princess.)

I signed into the Cancer Center right on time for my 9:15 labs and didn’t even get to sit down in the waiting area.  The nurse was ready with my chart and took me straight back.  First stop was vitals – blood pressure and temperature, along with the dreaded scale (I renew my objections for the record – I don’t think I’m supposed to gain weight if I have cancer.  It’s not right, it’s just not right.)  For some reason my BP was pretty low this morning but it has come up to normal over the course of the day.

Then I went into the chemotherapy area so the nurse could draw blood from my port.  (I got a great nurse today, but the

preparing the port

odds of that were about 100%… all the oncology nurses here are fantastic.  They treat me like a person, not a disease.  And a person that they like and want to make comfortable, at that. )  Before Pam can draw the blood, she has to flush the port with saline solution.  Within about two seconds of her pushing the syringe of saline into the IV she attached to my port, I could taste the saline in my mouth.  It’s an amazing reminder of the wonders of the human body – how fast the blood is circulated throughout the system.  The port leads directly to my heart, yet I taste the metallic tinge of the saline before the syringe is even empty.

After the blood draw, I was taken to an exam room (along with Sam of course, he remembers problems and asks questions that I wouldn’t think of) and we wait a few minutes for my doctor to arrive.  Everyone calls her Dr. Geetha, which is her first name.  Her last name is virtually unpronounceable, at least for me.  I’m sure it’s easy for her.  She does all the normal doctor stuff- looks in my mouth with a flashlight, palpates my neck to check for lymph nodes, listens to my heart and breathing, checks my reflexes, asks me if I can still feel my fingers… Hold it.  What? Ok, I’ve been having some numbness and tingling from time to time, but I had no idea it might get to the “not feeling the fingers” stage.  She said to let her know if I couldn’t hold a cup or write, or if my feet felt like wooden blocks.  Ok, Dr. Geetha, you got it.  I won’t even have to write that instruction down, I’m pretty sure I’ll remember to call if that happens.

Meanwhile, the headache has become a migraine.  Dr. Geetha noticed and gave me the go-ahead to take some Vicodin.  I do, but the headache is entrenched enough that I’m doubtful of it helping much.

sam snuck this shot of me blogging w/o me noticing

After the exam, it’s back to the chemo room where I waited for a while for the pharmacy to get the orders for my chemo and send all the bags up.  While  waiting I realized that the chair I had chosen wasn’t going to work, as it faced the large windows.  It is a very overcast, gloomy day, and I had thought the windows wouldn’t be a problem, but they were still too bright.  By then I was wearing my sunglasses and had earplugs in to deal with the noise of two competing TVs, one on each end of the room; the various levels of voices (one man in particular keeping his hard-of-hearing grandfather company); and the frequent beeping of IVs needing attention.  The beeping kind of makes it sound like a busy McDonald’s – Sam kept getting a craving for french fries.  We got re-situated; not as easy a task as it sounds, as it involved moving my IV with me attached, my laptop, totebag, purse, jacket, and Packer mug of ice water.  I settled in and got comfy, taking off my shoes and putting on slipper socks, getting a pillow and blanket from Pam, the nurse, and exchanging my cute ball cap for a cozy warm one.  I know my way around chemo by now and I know what I need to get through the day as comfortably as possible.

Soon it was time to start the meds – first just some extra fluids, then the anti-nausea and anti-reaction meds.  (Yay for anti-nausea meds!)  One of the anti-reaction meds I get is Benadryl.  So at this point in chemo, I usually sleep for a few hours, and today was no exception.  When I woke up, Sam and I had a sandwich.  He spent most of the day doing a jigsaw puzzle.  He’s good at them and likes the challenge.

the puzzle master

After that, I dozed off and on for the rest of the afternoon.  I tried to watch a movie on my laptop and fell asleep, which was good.  I’ve also fallen asleep at least six or seven times while writing this blog entry, so if it says anything too bizarre, it’s probably me sleep-writing.

I should probably catch a nap with the half-hour I have left.

We don’t become discouraged, since God has given us this ministry through his mercy.  2 Corinthians 4:1

snoozing over my keyboard

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