Warning: This is how I actually look with no makeup. The chemo had barely had a chance to kick in. I just naturally look like this without makeup. I apologize in advance 😉
First chemo down:
It was pretty anti-climactic. The biggest surprise was how long it took and how many steps came with the “therapy.” First, I needed to have a full blood CBC panel done. Then I met with Doc Oncologist and his Nurse Practitioner (he has two), who explained that my blood work looks good and we can move forward.
We (Mom and Hubs joined me today) were shuffled into the chemotherapy room, and I assumed we’d get going right away, and I’d be out within an hour or so. Mmm… no so much. Here’s how it actually goes:
- Saline drip to flush out my kidneys (chemotherapy is hell on the kidneys).
- Steroid drip. This is to help counteract any nausea and discomfort I would potentially feel.
- Adriamycin. This is aministered over 12-15 minutes. This is to ensure that the medication does not leak out of the veins because that’s not good. It’s also the color of red Kool-Aid or hummingbird feed. (I am intentionally not linking to medication information, but feel free to look. I just ask that you be reassured that I am under the care of amazing professionals and I would not receive it unless it was absolutely necessary. So in other words, keep your “holy crap” reactions to yourselves, and rest assured that I’m good 😉 )
- Cytoxan. This is a slow drip chemo drug that takes about an hour. See the above parenthetical.
- More saline to flush out line, and heparin to make sure I don’t clot too quickly.
We were there for about four hours total. During those hours, I snacked, read, and played games on my iPad. It really wasn’t awful. A little boring, maybe, and we certainly could have done without the Medicare Supplement infomercial in the background, but all in all dare I say, relaxing?
I took some time to observe my fellow comrades. I was the youngest today, probably by about 20 years. An older woman had a total of three visitors (two who stayed the entire time, and one who popped in); two were alone — one in the private room (I wonder who seeks out the private room. I’ve been told I can go there if I get in early enough, but there is a comfort in knowing that we are a silent team); and two who had what I believe were their husbands by their side most of the time. Except when one decided she decided she wanted a milkshake. Then hubs got her the milkshake.
About half-way through my treatment, a man I will call Retired Marine (RM, in case he appears in future blogs) came in. While I couldn’t tell with the others, with RM it was obvious this was not his first time. He was a pro. He shuffled in with his walker fully decorated in Marine paraphenalia. His bride tucked him into the chair with his own camouflage blanket. She explained that she was going to run some errands, but would return shortly. After a minimally worded exchange with the nurse, RM fell fast asleep (I could tell, as he was snoring away peacefully).
I looked at his walker for awhile, making out the details that I could. I really wanted to take a picture of it, but refrained out of respect for his privacy. I did wonder, though, what kind of cancer he had, if he got it from his time in the Marines, and what is prognosis is. His presence spoke to me louder than any of the other patients I observed today. He reminded me of a friend’s Dad — also retired military — who recently lost his battle with cancer. Something about RM made me want to hug him, talk to him, ask him his name, but I figure we have a lot more encounters where I can reach out to him. Today he needed his nap.
The demographics of today’s room — other than age — were five women and two men. Interestingly, it didn’t appear that any of the women had lost their hair, while both men’s heads were a bit sparse. But who’s to know if that is due to ordinary baldness or to chemo. Each of us kept to ourselves, other than our interactions with the nurses and our companions.
I am happy to say that at the end of the day today, I have little complaint. My tummy got a little unsure, so I preemptively took antinausea medicine. And I am on the last of the 92 ounces of water I must consume daily. I seem to have a headache stemming from the steroids, but after drinking some Sleepytime tea, it seems to be dulling a bit.
First one down. Nineteen to go. Thanks for sharing the journey with me.
PS The general consensus was for me to take the pictures. I can always choose whether or not to share them; but I cannot go back in time to record it. Time will tell what pictures — if anymore — I choose to share.