Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chemo Treatment Number One


  • This is a freaking LONG post.  A lot of people wanted details, and boy oh boy did I give details.  You won't hurt my feelings if you bail early.
  • There is a TINY amount of blood showing in my port access tube in one shot.  TINY.  However, you blood wussies have been warned.
  • There is a shot of a HUGE syringe full of one of my chemo meds that just happens to be red.  I promise you, I would NOT spring a picture of that much blood on you, after warning you about the tiny bit in the other shot.
  • My "cleavage" shows, but it's mostly shirt and post-mastectomy sports bra, so don't get your hopes up, pervs.  Takes all the fun out of it, doesn't it?
  • These images will not show up on FB.  Not because I don't want to show them there, but because I don't want to type captions.  I'll link to this post there, though.

Today was the day.  I woke up and decided I wasn't going to go through with it, but Kevin made me get up and shower, so we went.  Once again, I was having a major panic attack this morning, and I'm pretty sure Kevin was having a minor one at the same time.  I had forgotten to pack a "chemo bag," so I worked on that this morning.  It was good to have something to occupy my time until we left at 8:30.

At 9, I was to put the numbing cream on my port and cover it with a square of plastic wrap, so I did that in the truck.  LOL  From now on, I'm driving myself to and from treatment, so I may have to rethink that plan, huh?  We got there, and I made 17 trips to the bathroom.  First of all, I'm supposed to push water.  A LOT of water.  I hate water, but I do what doctors tell me to do.  The nerves probably didn't help that situation much, either.

As with all nerves brought on by a new medical experience, I was perfectly fine as soon as the doctor walked in.  She asked questions, made sure to find out if we had any (we had a few, and she answered them to our satisfaction.)  Everything looked good, so she announced that I'd be staying for chemo.  Good.  Another wait may have pushed me over the edge.

I think part of it is the fact that I don't get sick.  I don't take pills.  I don't go to hospitals.  Heck, I don't even get headaches (until lately.)  I've gone from that to this horrible disease that requires horrible treatment which causes horrible side effects.  I guess I don't do anything halfway.  This is my new daily life:

No.  I do NOT take all of those every day.  However, I must travel with most of them.  When I walk into work, my bag sounds like I'm hauling in maracas!  (Mental note: Suggest mariachi Mondays at work tomorrow.)  Anyway, although most of the above are  "as needed," I sometimes need them.  So far, I haven't needed prescription pain medication more than 1-2 times a week at most.  I just don't know what my side effects will deem necessary.

OK, enough of the downer!  My first chemo day was fine.  Parts were actually fun and funny, thanks to an amazing husband making inappropriate jokes and an amazing nurse who explained everything so well that it kept me at ease.  Thanks to the numbing cream, I didn't even know when she accessed my port.  These things were on the cabinet, waiting for me:

The two small vials are for blood draws to check my levels and make sure I'm OK for chemo.  Because they had to wait for the lab to get back to them with the results, Marie (the nurse) asked if we'd like to go downstairs and get something to eat.  That sounded like an amazing plan, except that I had the tubes hanging from my port, waiting for chemo.  She said, "Just drop that down your shirt and go on down."  You can't tell me that, and not expect me to have fun with it:

If it wasn't funny enough that I stuffed it in my bra in my cleavage, we got a real good laugh of the fact that I only have HALF of what you could call cleavage.  The other side was PURCHASED by me, so I guess it's mine, as the implant will be.  So yeah, we'll say cleavage.  LOL  We went on our adventure downstairs to the hospital cafe, and had a really great lunch for under $10 total for the two of us!  (Tight Wad.  Party of two.)

When we got back, it was time to get going.  She hung a bag of (I think) saline, and a small bag of non chemo drugs.  I don't remember what all of them were for, but at least one was for nausea and one was a steroid.  Here is my little starter pack:

At this point, the meds were almost gone.  After each infusion is complete, more of the fluid is injected to "flush" the port.  That's why the large bag.  I didn't even use half of it by the time I left, though.  Then, it was time to get started on the poison chemo.  The Adriamycin is given with two large syringes so they can keep a super close eye on it.  They alternate a few CCs of it and a bit of saline.  I told her I was worried her hand would cramp.  LOL  I'm showing it below, but the drug is red.  That is NOT blood!

When that was done and the port was flushed, it was time for the Cytoxan.  It can hang on the IV pole, so Marie got to rest her hands.  Actually, she was probably in another room doing the same thing for someone else.  Poor thing.  Here I am while finishing up.  Yes, the room was small:

I was playing online.  If you know me well, and have been to my house or followed any images of me, you may be having a nagging feeling that this looks VERY familiar to you.  I can explain that.  I had Natalie take a pictures of me while doing this blog post:

Take away the blanket (we turned our ac off last night) and the IV pole, and I was at home!  Oh, the blanket!  That is ONE thing I forgot to take, which is the only reason I regret not packing my chemo bag earlier in the week.  One of my many distant friends who have sent me amazing packages (seriously, you guys BLOW me away...and kinda make me cry like a girl a little bit...I gotta work on that,) sent the following that she made for me, just for chemo treatments!

She explained her design in her very touching note.  "Zebra print, because you're so "wild & crazy"; pink hearts, because we love you."  It is DEFINITELY ready for my next appointment.  The blankets they have there sucked.  May as well give me a sheet.

Finally, if you made it this long without falling asleep or passing out (that last part was for the wussies,) I will give out a parting laugh.  As we exited the office after my visit was complete, we saw this in the hallway.  I think you can read it if you click on it:

Kevin said, very simply, "Hmmm.  I sure hope those boxes are empty."


Anonymous said...

I'm glad we can stay up to date with what's happening to you Rachel. We love you and miss you at the lab from time to time! You know we pray for you every day!
Curt and Susan

Dan said...

Rachel, you continue to amaze and astound me with your attitude, your willingness to share what is going on, and your so very exceptional descriptions of everything.

It is quite okay for you to cry like a little girl every now and then, because you have more than earned that right. You have been so damn strong and given so many others so much, that if you can't cry a tiny bit, you are NOT human, and I know that isn't the case. You are one of the finest humans I know.

Thanks again, for everything you do, and I look forward to reading more.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you are posting about all of this Rachel. For me, blogging helps me get by what I have to get through. smooches to Kevin and your family for all their support. Love ya, Judy

nerves05 said...

I'm so glad this went so well for you.. I was hoping it would. You have such a great support system and your hubby god love him is one of the best.
Your attitude gets you so far and i so admire that in you.. Heck i need to take notes..
I'm still sending good thoughts and prayers your way and many long distance (((HUGSSSSSS)))

Amy said...

$5.00 the next time you got all that stuff in your cleavage....if you go downstairs to the cafeteria and say to the first guy you see...."Hey, buddy....You wanna see somethin'?" while slightly pulling down the neckline.

amy said...

So happy your first treatment went well! the hard part of not knowing is over and the killing of all of those bad cells has started--yeah!

you are so tough!!--the day I had cytoxan I did not remember much!

Wow! you are so lucky they came up with the numbing cream--17 years ago they did not have that! A definate new "joy in cancer"!

Keeping you in our prayers! Amy

Anonymous said...

Let me just s t r e t c h my arms across this little pond to give you a big hug Rachel. Hugs, MalcolmR.

Sonya Cox said...

I love that blanket. That was a good idea. I guess you get cold with the chemo treatments.