Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Other Side of the Mountain

I feel like I climbed the highest mountain yesterday and now can walk down the other side.

It was a long, long day.  We thought the port surgery would only be an hour, (which was how long the procedure itself DID take) but all the things that needed to be done before and after took a lot of time.  So, we began the day getting up at 6:15 am to be at the hospital at 7:30, but we did not leave the hospital until 1:00 pm.  Then, it was right over to the cancer center to begin the chemo.  And we were there until 5:30 pm.  When I finally did get home, I was so exhausted between the day itself, not sleeping well lately, and the anxiety....that it was all I could do to walk up the stairs to our co-op.   My husband had been with me all day also, and I know how tiring it is in hospitals to just wait, so I know he was ready to rest also.

I brought my bag of "stuff" for the day which included a "chemo blanket" from a friend which was happy with flowers and colors.  I was the envy of the room!  It does get cold in there, so you do need one.  She also gave me some other things that she had researched online that chemo patients need, and she was right-on!  I brought too much this time, but now I know what to bring for next time.

But the best news of all is that I DID IT!  And now I know I can do the rest.  My chemo nurse was so kind and so informative.  She went over each and every thing she did and then sat and went over the my whole regimen and gave me many tips and "orders from the doctors" on what to do these next few days right after chemo to ensure the rest of the days are somewhat better.  You start out with saline solution and then some meds for anti-nausea and other things.  Then she alerts you that you are about to begin your chemo.

I was most happy that the sedation that I received while getting the port still had me in a calm, dreamy state so that I was in a better place to begin.  When she came with the "red medicine" in that syringe, I thought..."This is it....this will be the beginning and if I can get through this, then the rest will be OK."  As one, two, three syringes made their way into my body, I was so pleased not to be growing a third head, seeing parts of my body change radically, or losing one of my senses (I know, exaggerated worry...yeah, I'm guilty!) but this made me feel much better about all that was going on.  The second drug also went in fine and then more saline, flushing the port, add a little heparin, and I was good to go.   (And...bonus...with the first drug your pee turns red...however, red pee is not as pretty as the blue pee from the surgery) 

Everyone in the chemo party room was fun to talk to.  I love hearing people's stories, so for me it is good to have others that are willing to talk and get to know you.  It is, kinda, like a family...a family of people caught up in something they didn't expect, and drawn together by the sharing of themselves.

Once I got home, I didn't feel any different.  Took nausea med before bed and again this morning.  Also have another to take at 2 pm.  Then repeat (like shampooing) the med before bed again tonight and tomorrow...etc., etc.  There is also an additional med that can be taken if these are not enough.  So far, so good...hopefully it will remain as so.  I have also been eating very lightly as they said.  The funny thing is, they tell you to think differently about food...."healthy" food can be tough on you right now and cause some reactions to your digestive tract that you may not want.  So, for now, proteins and grains are the rule of the day.  And water, water, water to flush it all out quickly.

We go back tonight at 5 pm for a shot, and then I don't go back for another week. As the chemo nurse told me, I will start to feel fatigued, then start feeling better....then it is time to get the drugs again.  But, now I know I can do it!

I am so thankful for this treatment that will only bring me more health in the future.  I won't be done for quite some time, and then the mystectomies are next....but in about a year, this will be behind me and I can help others who go through this journey.  I hope I am helping some of them right now.

Lastly, is something to think about...the male nurse that was with me after the port was put in was telling me how more and more women of my age are being diagnosed with breast cancer.  And he agreed that it is almost epidemic.  So, let's work on finding out just what we are doing to our bodies, with the environment, with our food, with medications.....that may be putting many of us through this journey that we don't really want to take.  Because if we don't have to climb the mountain to begin with, we will all be better off.

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