Saturday, June 16, 2007

Second chemo infusion yesterday

It's just not that bad. I want to moan and groan and complain to get some sympathy, but I can't legitimately (or morally?) do it. Here's the routine. Go to the Cardinal Bernadine Cancer Center, get blood drawn from my port, go to the doctor, let him check my blood counts, talk to him about any symptoms I'm experiencing, blah blah. Wait to go get chemo. (There'a a lot of waiting between appointments.) I got in at 10 yesterday morning and left at 3:30, so it takes most of the day. (But the hospital does have a wireless connection, a real plus!)

Ok, so I go get hooked up to the chemo machine, which is basically an IV machine you see in all hospial rooms. They infuse me through my new port, and it takes about two hours. (A time in which you meet a lot of interesting people; yesterday I met a woman being treated for Ovarian cancer. She had no hair. And an Italian man, a talker with no teeth but plenty of hair, who asked lots of questions, even my age.)

Before I leave treatment, they hook me up to a device that pumps more chemo into me for the next 48 hours. That's the irritating part, having to walk around with a Top 10 fashion faux pas fanny pack for two days. I sleep with it on, I pee with it on, I eat with it on, I drive with it on. Nasty little requirement. On Sunday, I have it removed. All this takes place every two weeks.

According to the Top 10 fashion faux pas list, Fanny Packs is number nine: “There is nothing important enough that you should be carrying around that merits carrying it around in a fanny pack.”

I guess I could argue with that.

So symptoms are:

Sensitivity to cold - When I wash my hands in cold water, they tingle. When I drink cold water, my mouth feels like I've swallowed dry ice. Duration: two days.

Sensitiviy to acid - Eating a strawberry or tomato or something with acid locks up your jaw in that weird electric feeling you get in your back jaw when you eat certain types of food. That happens in spades with this chemo. Duration: two to four days.

Slight nausea - I can take a nausea pill and eat a cracker and I'm usually fine. Duration: about four days.

Flu-like symptoms, aches chills. One day.

Flushed face - Well, it's flushed right now but I think it's because I went outside to water the plants and forgot to put on sunscreen and a hat as I was instructed. Bad girl.

Fatigue - I need a lot of sleep on the first and second day. I couldn't seem to stay awake during a riveting movie, Letters from Iwo Jima. Possibly because it was in Japanese and subtitled in English. So I had to read the whole thing. And it was dark. And I guess it wasn't all that riveting, despite the reviews.

Constipation -- Severe. Luckily, I learned I can take as many laxatives as I feel I need to to "stay ahead of the game," my nurse said. I always thought constant use of laxatives was a no no, but I guess these are extenuating circumstances. Duration: 12 days. Get regular about the time I have to go back to chemo.


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