Wednesday, September 08, 2010

And So, The Chemo Begins!

Last Wednesday was Maya's big day in the sun with the first day of school and her first day as a FIRST GRADER! And she's still basking in that status and loving every day of this new adventure too. Cross your fingers, say some prayers as well, that this attitude is one that holds in her for the next 12 plus years now too!

Last Wednesday was also my cousin Nancy's first day of something new as well -Chemotherapy. She says she's handling it quite well thus far and was to go back today for her second treatment. She did tell me when we talked on Saturday and again yesterday, that they will be upping her dosage today so if you are of the praying type, say a prayer (or two, more or many) that Nancy's treatments go smoothly and do exactly what they are supposed to do as well -kill those bad cancer cells -all of 'em, if you please!

Today was also MY big day too. And boy, it sure did live up to that of being a "BIG" day, that's for sure. However, I'd much prefer that my big days didn't go quite like this one.

I arrived at the Cancer Center bright and early (for me, 8:30 a.m. is very bright, way to early, too. But I was there with my eyes at least partially open and having had some tiny benefit of gulping one little cup of coffee down before leaving the house. Because I was going to turn in another request for blood work for my family doctor (this pertaining to blood sugar stuff), I had not had any food and the coffee, a lot of places will allow that before the blood test provided it is only black coffee -none of the flavored creamers, milk or sugar for you folks who like to put those additives in your caffeine.

Got the blood work done and then, off to wait for the doctor to come talk to me about the cancer, the chemo and what I have to do, what to expect over the coming weeks. You know -all that good stuff that often isn't the nicest or easiest stuff to contend with but somehow, when you are in that predicament, you just put on your big boy or girl panties and move on however life -and medicine -may take you. (There are worse things that can happen to a person besides the sicky and yucky junk that comes along with cancer chemo treatments. Don't believe me? Just ask anyone who has lost a loved one, had a major disaster in their lifetime -flood, tornado, horrific car crash, work-related injuries, mine cave-ins -to name a few -and cancer and chemo treatments then become a walk in the park by comparison. Well, that's my theory anyway.)

We discussed a bit about the cancer -what stage it is (he says definitely stage 2, probably though stage 3. Which isn't an ideal stage to have handed to you verbally, but it's still a much more workable thing that if he'd said "Stage 4" ya know.) He asks me about what chemo I had 7 years ago (a different doctor then) and where I had radiation then too. Then he asks if I have a "Port" installed, which I didn't then, still don't but apparently he is going to request that I get that done sometime between today and my next treatment if it is at all possible. I'm not crazy about having a port but I can see and understand the benefit of that because my veins are sometimes more than a bit spidery and also, they dearly love to play head games too with nurses trying to stick needles into them too as they run and play "Hide and Seek" or "Catch me if you can" ya know. So I am surmising that is probably going to get added to my agenda of things I have to have done -and soon.

So after our talk, I am taken down to the chemo area with these nice, comfy recliners, trays attached to them, a tv screen that is brought down to my eye level and a remote control to watch pretty much whatever program I want on the screen. Sort of all the comforts of home. And then some too -as the volunteer (Chris I think is her name) comes by and I remember her from my chemo of 7 years ago this summer/fall/winter and we greet-each remembering the other's face but not the name right off hand, you see.

Chris brings me a cup of black coffee and two packets of cookies -not the best thing exactly for someone who should be steering clear of the heavy-duty sugar items, I know. Then the nurse comes with her sheaf of papers she has to fill out and go over with me as to what to expect. By this time I have also been made aware I will be getting six chemo treatments over the next 18 weeks time -at 3 week intervals per treatment. That should, by my calculations take me up to early-to-mid-January I think. And I realize too that this chemo is going to be some of the much more high-powered, really potent stuff, compared to what I received 7 years ago. This could be compared to the heavy-duty foods zoos give to the really big cats or other mammals there of the larger varieties and the chemo of 7 years ago in that picture would be like getting really soft, chewy kitten food ya know.

The nurse then sets me up to have some stuff run into the iv setup they have in my right arm -not chemo just yet as that is now being mixed up specially for me in the pharmacy lab and will be arriving in the chemo area in oh, probably a half-hour or so and then the games will really be ON!

Chris returns to ask if I would like lunch and she gives me the options available that she will then prepare for me. I order a sandwich equivalent to an egg and sausage mcmuffin, tomato soup and vanilla pudding along with another cup of coffee. After she brings my food, she goes back to her little area then and returns with four boxes of turbans that the cancer clinic provides to all cancer patients -free -and you can pick as many as you want in lots of different pretty colors too. She also brings to mannekins -heads, that is -each sporting a wig, styled in short waves with brownish-black hair that is pretty well sprinkled with grey too. So I select one of them too then because by that point in time I have also learned that I will lose my hair -all of it -and not just that on the top of my head too, but ALL of my body hair! Wonnerful, wonnerful an'a one an'a two an'a thank you too to Lawrence Welk for that last line!

Finally, around noonish or slightly after the chemo cocktail arrives and the nurse begins to hook it up. It starts running and she tells me this cocktail will run through my veins taking a lengthy course that will last about 3 hours and when it finishes, I then get another type of chemo but that one only takes about 1/2 hour to run it's little race to clear these nasty cells from their hiding places in my system.

After seven years, the only thing I really remember feeling or sensing when the chemo began to run into me was as it passed near my neck/mouth, I also had a sensation in my neck/throat area which also seemed that I could taste and even smell the stuff when it passed through there and I wondered if I would feel that with this stuff today. But I didn't notice anything like that.

However, within a few minutes I did feel various other sensations ranging from early sensations of nausea but yet, not really nausea. Then there was the ache/pain that sprang up and zipped back and forth across one leg to the other, around the small of my back and tailbone and with that, a feeling or aching that no amount of trying to shift my weight off my behind seemed to help. But when I began to break out into this really big cold sweat and I could feel nerves being someone uncontrollable by me with the legs and hands kind of feeling like they were trembling inside me that one of the nurses happened to look over at me in that chair and she apparently hit the staff's on private panic button or silent code alarm or some such because in short order, almost every nurse in the unit plus the oncology doctor were all swarming about me fire questions at me in rapidity that my pea brain could hear them but just couldn't get any words to come out to answer them or explain what was happening to me.

I won't lie to you and tell you this was nothing, wasn't scary at all. No, I won't because it was a bit scary but mainly because I couldn't answer them, just couldn't get my voice to be heard because it seemed to be all muffled deep inside me. I was trying to talk but the volume was almost at a mute level -or so it seemed to me. Who knows, maybe I was answering them okay or even on a really loud level but I just wasn't hearing it as such.

The doctor and nurses determined -they were fairly certain on this -that I had apparently had some type of allergic reaction to this form of chemo so the nurse had, wisely, shut it off immediately and they had given me an injection of benedryl to counter the allergy effects.

And then the doctor asked the nurse to request transport for me -meaning to get an ambulance crew to come in and remove me, take me up to the emergency room where they could handle the whole situation better than could the people at the cancer clinic area.

And that's how I ended up spending about 3 1/2 more hours, mainly asleep, on a bed in the emergency room of the local hospital today and how my first chemo treatment that was supposed to take 3 1/2 hours, total, ended up with my having been in the cancer clinic and the emergency room then from 8:30 a.m. until around 4:30 p.m. today!

So now, I will hear from the folks at the cancer clinic tomorrow about a few other things -like when they will reschedule this chemo treatment or will the doctor have me set up to have a port installed before my next schedule treatment and oh, lots of other things I supposed will also be addressed tomorrow in that lovely phone call.

But right now, I am awake, drinking coffee of course and enjoying that delightful flavor -savoring it, basking in it really -and as the benedryl they gave me continues to wear off now tonight, it does seem too that I can almost feel my eyes, opening just a bit more, my senses returning and becoming a bit more alert as I am awakening again and the time -just past 10 p.m. -my normal time to generally wake up, of course.

Now maybe I can get a few more stitches in yet tonight to make up for the ones I should/could/would have been putting into this tabletopper had I not made an unexpected visit off to my own very private little Idaho lala land!

And you know too, all's well that end's well. Right?


Keith said...

Damn Jeni. I had no idea. I'm praying for ya and you will beat this because you're one tough woman. I'll make sure to follow your blog and FB more.


Marguerite said...

Oh Jeni, what a terrible, harrowing day! God bless you with a peaceful night's sleep after all that you've been through! I must say that I admire your courage and ability to take it all in stride. I'm glad that you're getting a port, because it will make everything easier. You are at the top of my prayer list and I will be keeping you there until your chemo is over and you're totally well, again. Love and hugs, Marguerite

Paula said...

Holy Cow! Chemo is bad enough without the allergic reaction. I'm so glad that nurse caught it and you are doing okay tonight. My prayers are with you, Jeni.

Maggie May said...

Jeni...... that brought back so many memories.
I am praying for you and your cousin & that you will be able to continue with your chemo without ill effect. (Well without desperate ill effects because chemo always has some nasty little thing that makes things difficult.)
Sounds like you are having a similar strength and lengthy one that I had.
I always went in at 8.15 and never came out till around late afternoon. It took 3 hours for the first one to go in and another hour for the second. With washing & flushing between each one.
I used to start with bad cramping period like pains straight away, a fuzzy head and just wanted to sleep.Then the itching would kick in for 6 days.
I suppose it is different for everyone.
Hang in there..... you have a positive attitude and that is what is needed more than anything.
In England on the NHS, we don't get much choice in wigs..... food or have individual TVs.

You can be assured of my prayers and very best wishes and my concern etc.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

terri said...

Oh, Jeni! You had me freaking out over what was happening, and the only consolation was knowing that if you were able to write about it, it had to all turn out okay in the end! I can't imagine how scary that must have been for you. I'm so glad someone was paying attention enough to realize something was very, very wrong and got things disconnected. I hope they can figure out what it is you need AND can handle before the next go round. Chemo is stressful enough without the added "benefit" of an allergic reaction.

Sandee said...

Yikes, that had be pretty scared too. I knew you were doing this post so things worked out, but this was downright scary.

Have a terrific day. Big hug. :)

Travis Cody said...

Good luck! I hope everything goes OK.

TechnoBabe said...

Well you had such a long day. You sound like your spirits are high though and you are determined to get through the series of treatments and get well. I hope you do better next treatment. Hugs.

fermicat said...

Oh no! Sorry to hear that an already stressful process went so wrong. I hope things will smooth out for you very soon.