Monday, January 18, 2010

Survived Round One!

I received my first chemo treatments Wednesday and Thursday of last week. I get two drugs on Wednesday and one of the two on Thursday. All went relatively well, and I didn't have any side-effects during the treatments.
On Wednesday morning, Jerry and I left our house by 6:30 a.m. Jerry was really nervous, although he denied it all that day! We arrived at Georgetown Hospital by 8:10, and the first thing I had to do was get my blood tested which took forever. That early in the morning there is only one guy checking people in and then taking them back to get draw the blood. So after waiting 25 minutes, I got called, but then the paper work wasn't properly done, so that had to be straightened out. On my first day of treatment, my blood counts have to be checked out before I can be given the chemo. So I have to get this done first, so the nurses can get my blood numbers before they can call in the order for the chemo which can't be ordered until I am there and weighed.
After my blood is taken and being analyzed, I wait to see my doctor, Cheson, whom I really like and trust. After he assured me that my hair wouldn't fall out, I asked him if we could make it curly, but he said he couldn't. He then gave me a hug and sent me up to floor 5 for the chemo.
My nurse is Kim, and I'll try to have her each time I go. One nice thing about Georgetown is that each person receiving chemo has his/her own little cubby with a curtain that can be drawn for privacy. Each cubby has its own t.v., and wireless internet service is available.
The first thing that Kim did was put warm towels on my arm to prepare my veins for the infusion. Even as late as this, I'm still thinking that someone will come in and tell me that this is all a mistake. It's really surreal to believe that I can feel okay, and still need chemo. But Ashton didn't pop out telling me I was "punk'ed".
Before starting the first medicine, I was given Benedryl and Tylenol orally, and a steroid intravenously. Before the second medicine, I was given an anti-nausea medicine. The first time, the medicine is given really slowly to make sure there are no side-effects. Therefore, the first day, we weren't finished until around 4:30 p.m. But traffic coming home wasn't bad, and friends had left dinner for us while we were gone, so the day ended well.
Thursday morning, I felt fine. I didn't need to be at Georgetown until 1:30 p.m., so that morning I got some laundry done. We had left the "stent" (the part in the vein that the infusion connects to) in my arm wrapped well, so that part didn't have to be done again, although it had been uncomfortable some during the night. Once I was there, the chemo was ordered, which can take up to 90 minutes to receive. It didn't take too long, and the infusion took only about an hour. So we left around 4:30 again. This time traffic seemed a bit worse. And I seemed a bit more nervous. I was really glad when we got home! Again, we had food left from friends, so I just crashed on the couch.
Friday morning I got up and went to work. I really felt fine. By the end of the work day I was really tired, so I came home and took a 3 hour nap! My arm where the infusion had been inserted was red and swollen, so I had put ice on it throughout the day. But other than that I had no side-effects.
Saturday and Sunday I have been able to rest a lot. Sometimes, I have been a little nervous, wondering how my body would react to the poison that it had received. My legs were really tired at times, but I rested and used a heating pad on them, which seemed to help. Saturday afternoon, I did take an anti-nausea pill, which did seem to relieve the symptom.
Today we didn't have school/work thanks to Martin Luther King. I was grateful to have another day to rest. Jerry and I took a walk this afternoon, after my nap, but I didn't want to walk too quickly or too far. I have now decided that I'm fine and will be back to normal tomorrow.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bone Marrow Test = OUCH!

Thursday, Jan. 7, I had a bone marrow test.
Before any cancer treatment starts, the bone marrow is tested to see if the cancer has progressed to the bone marrow. When I was first diagnosed, I had a bone marrow test. Because I was so anxious about it, I took two valium before it started, and the test didn't seem very painful. I had heard terrible stories about the pain of the test, and how it was the worst pain that some people had ever experienced. I didn't find the first test bad at all.
When I had my regular six-month cancer check this December, Jerry and I stopped at a restaurant, Clyde's, in Rockville. Since I had been told at my doctor's appointment earlier that day that I would need to start chemo, I decided to try a new cocktail. I had an appletini (an apple martini), and it was delicious. I also had a cosmopolitan, but I enjoyed the appletini a little more. My friend, Sallie, had introduced me to the restaurant earlier in December when I had gone to Georgetown for my MRI. Clyde's is a nice restaurant in Rockville with great sandwiches. I had never had a martini lunch before, but after being told that I had to start chemo and I having Jerry as my driver, I decided to have one!
Back to the bone marrow test. Since the first test didn't seem too bad. I decided to forgo the valium, which does make me sleepy, and just have the test done. Then, I thought that when it was finished, Jerry and I could go back to Clyde's, and I would have another appletini.
First of all, the traffic to Georgetown University Hospital was terrible. At the doctor's, one person said that there had been a bad accident; another person reported a murder. Anyway, everyone was late, and the appointments were backed up. Jerry and I waited over 1 1/2 hours before I got called back to the room. I was starting to get a little nervous, but not too bad.
The test got started, and my bone marrow wouldn't cooperate, which means that none of my bone marrow could be pulled into the needle. It was painful, but it didn't last too long. She tried twice, but had no luck. Then she took the bone sample. That was really painful. Probably for only about 30 seconds, but it really did hurt. During this painful 30 seconds, Jerry whispered into my ear, applitini! Once the test was finished, I was able to see the 1 inch sliver of bone that was removed. It looked similar to a 1 inch pencil lead.
Jerry and I left Georgetown and headed for Clyde's. I did get an applitini. It was delicious, but when I have to get my next bone marrow test, I'm going to skip the martini and have the valium!