Monday, November 14, 2011

Chemo - Blow by Blow

When I found out I was going to have to have chemo I wondered what it would be like. I googled it. I didn't find much. I heard lots about the side effects and the yukky horror stories, but not about the actual process. I realize that everyone's process may not look like this, but I want people who are worried about chemo (or worried about me) to know what it's like. Ok, so here's my day, blow by blow.

This is a huber needle.
10:45 - I checked in at the oncology office. Only had to wait a few minutes. I'm already on a first name basis with the check in lady, so that's nice. They took me back to weigh me, take my blood pressure, take my pulse and draw my blood. They did a CBC - complete blood count. The nurse was able to do my blood draw from my port. They usually only do it that way on treatment days. This was the first time my port had been accessed. The nurse pushed on my port, said, "Take a deep breath;" then stuck me with a special needle called a huber needle. The needle part sticks into the port. The tan butterfly looking thing lays flat on my chest, and the tubing hangs down. The clear knob at the end is where they attached the vials for my blood draw and my medicine bags later that day. The tan knob is where they injected medicine right into my IV.  It felt like a normal, hard needle stick, but instead of being able to feel a needle under your skin like you do with IV's, you don't. You don't really feel much of anything. When I was done, the nurse tucked the tubing under my shirt and sent me to see my nurse practitioner. I was happy that my blood pressure and pulse were lower today than they had been since I found out I had cancer. It's something I had been praying about and had been mindful of.

11:00 - I met with my nurse practitioner Bonnie. She reviewed my meds with me and went over the result of my CBC. They were looking at my blood counts to make sure they were all in the normal range so I could have my chemo treatment. She explained what each abbreviation was and talked to me about what they were looking for. She asked if I had any questions, and I said, "Nope. Let's do this."

11:20 - Bonnie sent me downstairs to the chemo lab. I waited for my name to be called. It took a while. I did my Bible study lessons, and My Main Squeeze read his Tim Tebow biography.

12:00 - They finally call me into the lab and told me to pick a recliner. The room was split into 4 big sections, and there were nurses assigned to each station. My nurse's name was Sara (no h). The recliners were pretty comfortable, vinyl, green. Each one had an IV pole next to it. And they each had an extension cord in it for plugging in electronics. A dear friend who works nearby brought me Starbucks. When she had cancer, one of her dearest friends (who also had cancer) brought her coffee on the day of her first treatment, and it meant so much to her. That friend is now with Jesus. She tries to carry on the tradition that her friend started, and it was nice to be in on it.

12:15 - The nurse gave me my anti nausea pill - called Emend. I have 2 more to take home with me - one for tomorrow and one for Wednesday. Main Squeeze came in to check on me. They initially said that he couldn't stay in the lab with me because of space and privacy policies, but he just sat quietly in the recliner next to me. The nurse took a picture of us.

12:25 - My first medication was a steroid drip and a shot of more anti nausea meds. They are given to help the chemo do it's job and to prevent symptoms. It took 15 minutes for that to go down.

my 2 bags of chemo drugs.
12:40 - The IV pole started beeping!!! That meant my first bag was done. The chemo lab is pretty quiet for the number of people in the room. The only things that are loud are when the nurses call across the room to each other (or get in lively conversations - which happened) and when the IV poles beep. Sara came and gave me my Taxetere - the first chemo drug. She explained some of the potential reactions that I may have initially and told me to let her know if I felt any of them. (I never did). I was looking at facebook on my phone, doing my Bible study, answering email (also on my phone). I brought my computer and iPad, but never brought them out. I also was told to bring a blanket because frequently chemo labs are cold and you have a hard time controlling your body temp. I didn't have a hard time with it this time, but I did pack my special chemo throw! This was my view during chemo...


1:15 - Two friends from church brought lunch. Skyline Chili. I had never had it before. I know! I had a chili cheese hot dog. It was good! They hung out in the chemo lab too, and we talked and talked - totally disregarding the "you can't have people stay with you in the chemo lab" one said anything to us.

1:30 - The pole beeped again. It was time for the 2nd chemo drug - Cytoxen. My 2 buddies were still there. The nurse came in and changed the bag. I asked her about allergic reactions for this one, and there weren't as many. One of my buddies and I got talking to the patient next to me about her wig that she got from the American Cancer Society. It looked great. There's a location not too far away, and they have all sort of free support things. I don't think I'm going to get a wig - probably just hats and scarves, but I think I'll check out the ACS.

2:15 - The pole beeped again, and I was done. The nurse disconnected the bag and then flushed my port by squirting saline in it. Again, I didn't feel anything except that it felt a little cold at my port site under my skin. We packed up, were reminded about the "no hanging out in the chemo lab" policy, checked out and got to the kids' school in time to pick them up.

So the big question is "How do you feel?" Fine. It was really easy-peasy. There were a few times during the treatment that I felt a little tired and a little light headed, but they were very minor. I guess the best way to describe how I feel now is "heavy." You know when you're so tired that your body feels heavy? It's like that, but I'm not tired at all, and it's not that heavy. I know I probably won't feel like this in a day or 2, and that's ok because I'm armed with all sorts of meds and home remedies to help. I know people are praying specifically that I don't have any side effects at all. One sweet lady said to me that she prays, "God, I know too many people with cancer. Can ya just heal them all? It will make prayer time easier!!" She makes me laugh.

1 comment:

  1. Mrs. Sarah...i love you soo much! i can't not smile at the fact that your soo strong! Im praying for you. I love and miss you :)
    -8th grade TPAC Girls ;)


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