Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chemo Two and "Three's Company"

Today was my second chemo cocktail and the process turned out to be even easier than last time.  I was a little concerned about how they were going to access the port, since once they took the final pieces of tape off (yeah, some were still clinging), you can hardly see the port since it is under the skin.  This is supposed to be a better way of controlling any infection.  My husband kept thinking something fell off or a piece was missing!  But, that's not the case.  Instead, the chemo nurse just feels the port, sticks the needle (yes, that still has to happen) right in the mddle, and you are "good to go"!

When I saw the blood fill up those tubes so quickly (you need blood tests all the time to check on how you are doing), I was so thankful that the chemo nurses decided I needed to have the port surgery.  The veins on my left arm are my "good ones", but now that I have had a couple nodes taken and the recent breast surgery, all blood has to be taken from the other side, which is my "bad vein side".  There were always problems getting a vein lately and I have had blood taken from various places on my hand which didn't hurt too bad, but during the port surgery they put it in the middle of the inside of my forearm....and that one hurt and is still black and blue!  So, this was a welcome change.

After bloods were taken, I was directed to get a seat of my choice in the chemo rooms.  There are two smaller rooms, and one large room that a friend has nicknamed "the chemo ballroom".  It has chairs for quite a few people and lots of windows.  I prefer to be in this room.  (This friend is the one who was diagnosed at the same time as I was but is receiving radiation, and no chemo.  She has also nicknamed the radiation room, "the dungeon" since it is in the basement of the building... but we are still both smiling through tears and needed laughs).  The nurse started the preliminary meds of some saline, another anti-nausea drug, and a steroid.  Then, the "red devil" appeared within three syringes in all her glory and she was injected into my IV.  Once she was done, I was given an few minutes, and then the Cytoxan IV was added.  Then, a short flush by IV, a flush of the port, and some heperin in the port to ensure there is no blood clotting.  Then, all is done and we are free to leave all in about 3 1/2 hours!

The one part I love about the chemo ballroom....I love the people there whether they are the nurses or my oncologist or the individuals that sit next to me.  Today, I met an older lady who reminded me of my mom.  Her hair was in place and you could tell she applied her make up very carefully and she was wearing a beautiful mauve sweater set.  She was tired, and slept a lot, but also loved my husband's humor (and that's saying something!) and agreed to go for a drink with him afterward!  She was a pip!  Then, there was the gentleman on my other side who was a "talker", but interested in my story as well as telling his own.  We also discussed books and our love of writing, and he disclosed that while he is undergoing chemo, he is trying to write a screenplay and he showed me his notebook that he has been writing and making notes in during his chemo treatments.  You meet the most remarkable people in that ballroom.  The ones I don't have a chance to talk to, I just study and make up my own stories about them.  It's kinda an insane pastime of mine!

Once we left, we went to our voting place back in our village to make sure our voices are added to so many others (and I hope everyone has!) and went back home.  The dull headache has already started, but I did expect it this time.  I have been on the Prilosec, so I am hoping the heartburn and other stomach problems won't be as bad this time.  I am thinking I will be OK (not great, but OK) until about Friday night, when I think the tunnel might make a reappearance.  But, I am more ready and more hopeful that some things have been put in place to make it a little bit easier to climb out of it this time.

And tomorrow my sister in law comes to keep me company during this chemo week and also to give my husband a little bit of a break from worrying and feeling like he needs to be right by my side.  I do love having him with me....but also want him to have some freedom from worrying, watching, and checking on me.  So, I am looking forward to seeing her and having time to talk "girl-on-girl".  We have not been together in person for a while since she lives in the south and we live in the north.  And that is why you can call my abode "Three's Company" this week (remember that sitcom?) since my husband will be living with "two ladies"....and I hope he survives us!

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