Friday, March 18, 2016

Chemo Day One, part two

Kevin took the day off to come with me for my first chemo. As directed, I put my Emla cream on over the port and covered it with a piece of cling wrap and some tape. It's lidocaine and prilocaine, which numb the skin so I won't feel anything when they access my port. We left enough time to stop for breakfast at Panera (have you had their breakfast souffl├ęs? They're delicious.) before heading to the hospital. We got checked in and waited a few minutes before we were called back. We were early enough to have our pick of seats, and the nurse said the corner spots were popular for the privacy they afforded. I decided I'd like that, particularly since it was my first time. The nurse, Lisa, was excellent. She chatted with us as she set things up, answered my zillion questions, and helped us feel more at ease.

The Emla worked, and I didn't feel a thing, barely even any pressure, when Lisa started my IV. Everything worked as it was supposed to, and she had me hooked up pretty quickly. The first step is to receive the premeds, which help to reduce side effects, particularly nausea. A steroid was administered via IV, and I also took some oral Zofran, which I was surprised to find were chewable and pretty tasty. Lisa said most people prefer to swallow it, as they quickly come to associate the taste with the unpleasantness of chemo. We had a fair bit of time to kill while the premeds went to work, so Kevin and I chatted and then read the weekly updates for the baby from a few sites we like. The first came from My Pregnancy, and elicited a few choice words from me as the irony of the situation sunk in (italics mine):

"How your life's changing", I read. "Your baby's not the only one with more hair--your locks may look more full and lustrous than ever. --Oh eff you! -- It's not that you're growing more hair, but thanks to hormonal changes, the hair that you'd normally shed is sticking around longer than usual.--Not for long!-- Enjoy the fullness while you can--the extra hair will fall out after you give birth.--Or in about 13 days. Probably 13 days."

I could hardly finish reading the blurb; I was laughing so hard that I had tears in my eyes. Seriously? This is what they tell us about today?

Once we finished reading the weekly updates, we had about 30 more minutes until I'd start getting the actual meds. I asked Kevin to run over to my asthma doctor's office (also at GBMC, though a few buildings away) to pick up a prescription for me, as my inhaler was just about empty and my awesome doctor often gives me samples to spare me the ridiculously high $50 copay.

I kid you not, he hadn't been gone ten minutes before the fire alarm went off. The nurses were surprised--they're usually notified in advance of fire drills, and they hadn't been notified. Everyone in my infusion room put on shoes, unplugged IV stands, and started towards the exit, which was down a long hallway winding past the other infusion room, waiting rooms for the doctors, and the main lobby.

Just before I got to the door, an employee made an announcement that they'd confirmed it was a drill and that we could return to whatever we'd been doing.

Entertainment portion of the morning over, Kevin returned and my infusion started shortly after. The first medication, Adriamycin, looked like red Kool-Aid in large syringes. Apparently, this drug can wreak some impressive havoc if it gets out of the vein, so it's pushed slowly by the nurse rather than left to drip. Lisa told me to keep my mouth as cold as possible throughout, sucking on ice chips or drinking ice water in order to reduce the likelihood or severity of mouth sores (spoiler: I still got them, but maybe they weren't as bad as they could have been).

Once that one was finished, she started the Cytoxan. I worked on getting caught up on some paperwork and did a little journaling; Kevin and I both read some. The oncology social worker came to talk to us and see if we needed anything; she said we could get a free three-month YMCA family membership, so I was excited for that. I dropped my membership to save money about eight months ago, but the water activities in particular are really good for my hip, and I have been missing it. So I'll get that set up pretty soon. Thanks, anonymous donors!

We got my prescription for Neulasta arranged;  I had to call the specialty pharmacy to clarify information and provide shipping details, as it'll be delivered to our house tomorrow morning, in time for me to self administer. Holy smokes, I've got to pay a lot of money for things that will make me feel awful. It'll keep me healthy though, so I'll do it.

We finished right around 1:30. I was feeling pretty good, so on the way home we stopped at the grocery store for ingredients for several freezer meals. Kevin's family came to our house for our Friday night pizza, and then Kevin and I got the guestroom set up for my mom, who got in a little after eight.

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