I realize that I didn’t share my experiences with my first chemo infusion yet. It wasn’t because I don’t care about all of you. It was because the first 5 days sucked and then I went back to work. So grab your cup of
coffee tea* and read a story.
Last Friday was infusion day. Derek and my friend, Rachel, were the designated helpers. As I may or may not have mentioned, Rachel is a friend from Minnesota who comes to visit periodically. We love her. She does things like convince me to buy awesome shirts and we do things like convince her to buy Apple pencils and plane tickets to Iceland.
I neeed to report to SCCA at 3:00 for another round of teaching with the nurse. She reiterated some of the things she’d gone over before, but it was ok because I didn’t remember some of what she’d told me. After the teaching we stopped buy the pharmacy to pick up a butt load of drugs to make me not throw up. I love those drugs even though they may me tired AF.
With time to kill between the first appointment and my blood draw we went for a walk. Any day you can talk a walk in Seattle on a beautiful sunny and 78^ day is a good day. Even if the day ends with getting pumped full of toxic chemicals. SCCA happens to be in the South Lake Union area so we wandered down the hill. Really I was searching for food, but there were only major restaurants and we didn’t have that much time. **Note to S. Lake Union businesses… Food trucks**. I found it peaceful to just sit and watch the boats go by, the water planes land and take in the sun.
I chatted on the phone with Kerstin for a while. It was comforting to have that conversation. I look at this panorama and I can still fell the sun on my face and hear the water splash against the dock. I felt comforted by this city that I love so much. Before long it was time to head back up the hill to start kicking some cancer ass.
The lab accessed my port for the first time, which was odd. Thanks to lidocaine it didn’t hurt. That’s because Rosa is the best in the lab and I love her so. Seriously… I should not know the names of the phlebotomists. Rosa took blood and sent me on my way. It felt like the day was dragging on due to the waiting. We stopped for snacks in the cafe and waited around on the infusion floor for them to call me back. Rather than calling names on the infusion floor you check in and they give you a buzzer like at a restaurant. I was super excited that I might get fries with my order, but sadly I only got chemo.
Once the buzzer goes off they hand you a pink piece of paper and say, “you’ll be in bay #41 (or whichever bay).” Head through the door into the chemo rooms. This is not like the chemo area I visited in Olympia. This is schmancy. Each patient is given their own private “room.” Patients have very comfy tempurpedic hospital beds to lay on. 1 visitor gets a comfy chair. Others get a folding chair. There isn’t a ton of room, but enough. I was comfortable. I don’t give a shit about the rest of y’all. My nurse was awesome. We joked with her and she took me on a quick tour. There are 2 nutrition centers on the floor with snacks for patients and visitors. I can’t eat much of it, but at this point my delicate diet has been eased to if it doesn’t taste disgusting or horribly upset my stomach, in it goes.
Once the infusion happened it was a lot of sitting there. I was given serious pre-meds such as anti nausea medicines and steriods. That takes about 45 minutes. Then came the Adriamycin. It’s commonly known in the breast cancer circles as “the red devil.” While most drugs are clear, this one is red. The nurse has to wear special protective clothing as any minor spill of it is extremely caustic. Great… and this is getting pumped straight into my heart.
This was the one point where I did break down and cry. She put the first vial of 2 into the infuser and I could watch the red travel down the tube toward my chest. Then it was there. This stuff is going to kill the cancer, but it will also take my hair, possibly my nails, make food taste like shit and make me tired and nauseous. It is just enough to kill the cancer, but also just enough to keep me “alive.”
Overall the remainder of the appointment was fairly uneventful… with the exception of the one gentleman down the hall who really was not into getting chemo that day. We went home, had a little food and I went straight to bed.
The weekend wasn’t horrible. Saturday I felt mostly fine, but a little tired at the end of the night. Sunday I worked in the garden in the morning, but napped a good 2 hours in the afternoon. Monday involved an outing to Target and another long nap. I needed to prepare to go back to work on Tuesday. Returning to work is a story for another day. the bottom line is that this first round hasn’t been totally terrible. I know each round is cumulative. Each person reacts differently and who knows, maybe AC is easy and Taxol is rough. It could be the other way round. Only time will tell. What I do know is that I’m taking it one round at a time.
*We have to drink tea during our chats now because coffee smells like skunk. #sadpanda