Today’s waiting room music selection: Don’t Stop by Fleetwood Mac. Great oncology waiting room theme, don’t you think so? The music seems to have gotten less hard rock and more classic rock in the past few weeks.
I’m writing this from my green vinyl chair while hooked up to the Chemo Cocktail du Jour. I just finished a bag of Bendryl, and boy, can I tell. I went from 80 mph to 5 mph in about 15 minutes or so.
While I was on the AC, I took Decadron (a steroid) for three days following my treatments. I was also given a steroid via IV during each treatment. I took one pill twice each day for those three days and as you probably read, they messed up my sleep every time.
This time I have to take the same pill, but I take 5 (!) of them the night before chemo and 5 the morning before. I took the pills as directed last night and then woke up around 4:30 a.m. jacked up! My mind was racing and I couldn’t lie still, so I got up at around 5:00 a.m. I spent the morning feeling great. Full of energy and able to take on the world…almost normal. I also couldn’t shut up. (I know, I know. What’s new, right?) Rachel drove me to the doctor’s office this morning, and I talked throughout the entire ride. Rachel, in her infinite wisdom, didn’t even attempt to get a word in edgewise. I apologized when we arrived, but we’ll see if she comes back to get me later this afternoon. If she does, I bet she’ll be wearing earplugs.
I was so hyped up this morning that even the doctor commented on it. He told me that I seemed more “up” today than the last time he saw me. I think his assessment had something to do with the way I said, "Okay." in a rapid staccato after every single thing he told me. I attempted to do some Con Law reading when I sat down to start my treatments but quickly discovered that I couldn’t concentrate because my mind was racing, so I gave up and decided to compose a post instead.
When I arrived in the chemo room today my nurse, Patty, warned me that the Benadryl would probably bring me down from the steroid high and she was right. The moment it started to hit my system it brought me down. Way down. Now I’m so tired I don’t know how much longer I can write.
There are only four of us here so far today...one is Jane who I wrote about here (and she left a comment here today!). She looks great and she has hair!!! If you recall, she had long, thick red hair before chemo but it is coming back gray. It’s short and thick and makes me so excited to have hair again. She told me today that she can’t wait to feel the wind blowing it, and I completely understand. I told her that I wrote about her on my blog a few weeks ago and gave her the address so that she could take a look.
The woman sitting next to me is around 50 or so and is wearing a red wig (her natural, pre-chemo color) that looks like real hair as far as I’m concerned. She told us that when her hair came back in after chemo it was very thin and it was dark and kinky, so she opts to just wear the wig because it looks better. She didn’t have breast cancer but instead had some kind of bone/blood cancer. (I can’t remember what she said she had.)
It occurs to me that I should probably describe exactly what happens when I’m here for these treatments. My appointments usually start off with a visit with a nurse, Dahlia, who takes my vitals and asks about current medications. She and I seem to have fallen into the habit of discussing health food and our kids during these visits. (She has a 13 year old daughter.) After she leaves, the oncologist comes in and takes notes about my previous treatment and any subsequent side-effects, answers questions, and does a very, very brief checkup. Today I told him that I thought he needed to add Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips to the office’s patient library and he agreed and told me to tell the nurses about it, which I did. (They have a bookshelf filled with cancer books for patients to check out.)
After we’re done, he walks me out to the reception desk where Kathy (I’m convinced that she’s the one who chooses the radio station for the office) sets up my next few appointments. Once the calendar is filled in she walks me back to the treatment room where I choose a chair. After few moments, Patty comes in and hooks me up to an IV via my port. This consists of her poking a needle through my chest right into the port. She then flushes the port and takes a blood sample. It takes about 5 minutes for their on-site lab to run the tests, and once they determine that my blood counts are at the right level Patty starts the IV drip.
First I get the anti-nausea meds and this time that was followed by Benadryl and Pepcid to prevent any allergic reactions to the Taxol. With the AC, Patty would then sit on a stool next to me and administer it herself through a syringe (this is called “pushing” the medicine). With the Taxol, she just hooked it up to the IV. The nurses all kept a very close eye on me for the first 15 minutes of the Taxol administration, which is when I would have an allergic reaction if I was going to have one. (As I’m writing this, Patty just hooked up the Taxol…we’ll see what happens.) Once all the medicine is finished she takes the needle out of the port and I am free to leave.
(20 minutes later: No allergic reaction so far so they sped up the drip. Yay!)
The Taxol takes 3 hours to administer, so I have some time to kill. The Benadryl affects seem to be wearing off...I’m waking up a little bit now. And I’m hungry. (I brought my lunch with me today.)
Post-treatment update: Today’s treatment was long but uneventful. I never felt up to reading homework again so I watched a movie instead. I watched South Pacific because my only choices from our home library were Disney movies or Rogers & Hammerstein musicals. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it so it was an enjoyable way to pass 2 ½ hours. After it was over, the nurses told me that they wished I would have played the music out loud while I was watching it.
I finally remembered to take my camera today, so here’s a picture of me hooked up to the IV while sitting in one of the lovely green vinyl recliners that I love so much. (The port is located on the inside of my right breast underneath the white piece of gauze that you can see sticking out of my shirt.)