October 5, 2012

I DID IT…I MADE IT THROUGH MY FIRST CHEMO!

I am beginning to understand that we need to just go ahead and plan to stay all day when we have appointments and chemo in Louisville.  I am not complaining though!  I have received the best care ever up at U of L and Brown Cancer Center.  Everyone is so nice that I imagine that there is this hole in the floor that automatically opens up and the mean people get sucked down a tube to the “bad part of Louisville!!” And everyone knows that you don’t want to go to there!!!

 

Anyway, after a short wait, we were taken back and I was put in a room with an actual bed rather than in a “pod” of 4 chairs.  This is normal for “first timers” so they can have more room to work around you and to have space to give education on what is going on.  And the last reason is to have room and privacy in case of side effects occurring.

 

I had two fabulous nurses taking care of me yesterday.  Vickie is an RN, who after taking a break from oncology nursing for 5 years in order to teach, was moving back to the clinical side of things.  She was working with a more seasoned nurse, Jana, who was not only patient in her teaching of Vickie, but super caring towards me and Nick. She took her time to explain everything she was doing.  My port, even though it was inserted 10 days earlier, was still swollen and Vickie wasn’t quite sure what to do.  Jana checked it all out…pushing on it and moving it around, which was painful, but after cleaning the site well she was able to see where she needed to access the port.  The only problem was that a much longer needle was needed because of the swelling.  Oh…and I forgot to put on the numbing cream to numb the port area.  That is a lesson learned!

After getting the port accessed, they pushed through some saline, followed by heparin to help prevent blood clots, and then again saline was pushed through.  I was then given my pre-chemo meds.  One I took by mouth, Emend, to help prevent nausea and vomiting, and the following where given by IV:  1 was a steroid to help prevent n/v, the second was Zofran (also to prevent n/v, and Benadryl to help with possible allergic reactions.  This has to be in my system for 20 minutes before they could start my actual chemo meds.

Jana came back in a while later and started prepping me for the Adriamycin (A) part of my infusion.  This has a couple nicknames.  I asked Jana what they call it there, and she was hesitant to tell me at first, but then admitted that it goes by either “Red Devil” or Red Death”  She said that I have to be protected during the infusion because if it leaks out on to my skin it can cause immediate death to the skin and tissues.

This part took Jana 32 minutes to push through the port.  She had to go slow due to issues it can cause with the heart, and since I already have heart issues, she pushed a little slower.  Next the Cytoxin part of my treatment was started through my IV and this took a while.  About half way through I started getting extremely warm/hot.  I had previously been covered by a sheet, a heated blanket, and my fuzzy pink Blanket that I brought along.  I was also wearing sweat pants and socks and had still been chilled.  Once the heat hit me I thought I was roasting from the inside out out.  I already have hot flashes, so I knew it wasn’t that.  Totally different and it didn’t let up.  And then I started having heart palpitations.  I just was not being a very good patient!!

 

Nick called Jana into my room and she took vitals which were a little high and called the on call oncology doctor over to see me.  They both checked me out and announced that I was going to have to hang around a while longer.  It was already 6pm.  But I decided that after all of the other trouble I had caused, I would be a good girl and do as they said  :)

 

I eventually started to cool down and Jana said that I was becoming less flushed and sweaty.  I was also not having any other heart issues so they decided to let me go home with a long list a things that could cause me to return right away.  I also have to have the “Red Juice Stuff” pushed in even slower in order to protect my heart.

Finally about to head home.  I was told that with all of the anti-nausea meds that I was on, that I should be fine until about 36 hours post chemotherapy.  Wrong.  I started getting nauseous around 8pm and it did not let up until…well…I take that back.,  It hasn’t let up yet.  The dry heaving is causing major muscle spasms in my chest that just about bring me to my knees.  Not fun.

After keeping Nick up all night with my trips to the bathroom, nausea, heaving, and him dosing out my meds for me, he still got up early this morning and worked from home.  My mom stopped by to check on me and brought me some jello and some Boost that the pharmacist said would help to keep some calories into me.

We are now on our way back to Louisville to get a Neulasta injection to help my body boost it’s white blood count.

I am also going to add that since the fatigue of this chemo junk…that I started this post over 3 hours ago.  I just kept coming back after mini breaks.  If this wasn’t supposed to start until after hour 36, I believe I am not looking forward to hour 36 now!!

Oh…and the mailbox was full of stuff just for me today…and there were no BILLS included  LOL.  Annette sent me a beautiful breast cancer shirt and letter.  She writes the best letters!!!  I also got a card from Nick’s honorary Aunt and Uncle Karen and Tony Matz, and a letter from my “angel” who was assigned to me.

OK..I have to get going so we can head back to Louisville.  Love you all!  Oh…and with how broken up this post has been there may be areas where I repeated myself and spelling errors to boot.

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