It is more important to know where you are going, than how long it takes to get there.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What An Experience...

Today was chemotherapy cycle number one of four. I am 25% completed.

Last night I surprisingly slept hard from 2:00a.m. to 7:45 a.m - a great night sleep for me. It must have been all the toilet cleaning that helped me sleep so well. I went to my chemotherapy appointment this morning with my chest puffed out (lopsided as it may be), pink-haired head held high, full war paint (aka make-up which I rarely wear beyond mascara and maybe blush during the pasty faced winters in New England,) and my eyelashes a blazin'. For some strange reason, my nerves were nonexistent.

When I checked in, I had to sign the "blue sheet." I figured out the "pink sheet" is just for appointments, and the "blue sheet" is for chemotherapy. I was lead by a tech through "the door" that leads to the infusion area. I sat in an alcove with three other people. The blueish-greenish vinyl chair reclines like an electronic lazy-boy, and it has a foot rest that pops out from underneath in case you don't choose to recline. The nurse saw my feet dangling because the don't reach the floor - they never have in any chair except when I go to Molly's school conference - so the nurse pulled out the foot stand. Would you believe that my feet barely reached the foot stand? Because of the mess up with my insurance company not understanding one of my prescriptions that must be taken 1 hour before the infusion, the hospital pharmacy provided me with the pill. I sat for about a hour after I took the Emend and 4 other pre-chemotherapy pills. The main pill is Emend, an anti-nausea pill. Last night my mom told me that I have a stomach made of glass, so we both agreed that I wouldn't let any chemo start until this anti-nausea pill was ingested. Remember, your best advocate is you, unless your mom is along for the ride. As I tell my girls, "Don't mess with your mama."

I have two medications for chemotherapy, Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan-C) and Doxorubicin (Adriamycn - A), often referred as CA.

The IV needle hook up to the port-a-cath was much easier that pricking a vein. All I felt was a little needle pinch. This was all done under a very sterile setting. The nurse used the gloves packaged in a sterile packet, the same type used for surgery. After a little wash with saline, she began the first drug, Adriamycn. The Adriamycn is a pretty, deep beet red color, making red pee a side affect. The medicine came in two long, fat syringes, about he circumference of a toilet paper roll cardboard center. It was about 6-8 inches long. The "A" is a vincular-type medicine, which means it can really mess up your veins. A nurse must sit down and very slowly inject the Adriamycn into the tubes connected to the port or vein. The nurse, Chemo Queen- because she fabulous - told us a story about going to a seminar on vincular medicines, and saw with shock the horrible damage a vincular medicine can cause to veins, and explained that 100% of the time plastic surgery is required because the damage is so severe. (She equated it to going to driving school and having to look at pictures of terrible car crashes.) Since my medicine goes through a port and not directly into a vein, I should be clear of this issue. However, she was watching the port very carefully as she was injecting the "Red Devil," a nickname for Adriamycn. I drank a lot of water since I sat down in the chair. Five minutes after she was done with this first drug, I unplugged my drip machine and dragged my IV pole to the bathroom. Would you believe that my pee was already orange?! red+yellow=orange. When I went again just before we left the hospital, it was orange again, but a little less intense. I was surprised by how quickly this stuff moves through your system and into your bladder.

The second drug, Cytoxan, was only about an hour drip. It is the boring drug, no color, no colorful body fluids, just plain ol' poison. I never felt any of the medication going into my body. In the past, I've had IV's with medicine injected to them that burned, but felt nothing today. Half way through the Cytoxan drip, a volunteer brought me lunch. I split it with Chubba - it consisted of a yummy chicken with fresh tomato and crunchy lettuce wrap, pretzels, two passable chocolate chip cookie, and a variety of drinks. (I stuck with water, Chubba had gingerale - just in case you wanted to know.) The infusion area also has an area with snacks and drinks for the chemo clients.

Chubba and I, well mainly Chubba, had an interesting conversation with Laverne and Shirley, the two nurses directing the study for which I volunteered. (Laverne and Shirley are not their real names - just in case you have not figured out that I don't use any medical personnel's real name.) Chubba asked them is they ever prescribe marijuana for nausea. They said that in the past, they often prescribe Marinol, and pill form of marijuana, but they don't prescribe it much anymore. When he asked why, they really didn't have an answer other than they felt current medications must be more effective controling nausea. Shirley told us a story of one elderly patient who came in for a cycle (treatments are called cycles) and confessed to her that she smoke a little marijuana for nausea. When Shirley asked how did it work, the patient replied "Great!"

So far, KNOCK ON WOOD, my sides affects today have been minimal. My sinus tingled like it does after I take my migraines pills. (Yep, I get them too.) My hand tingled for a little bit. I had a few hot flashes. I got a slightest bit nausea around 8:00p.m., so I took a Compazine anti-nausea pill. I had a fabulous dinner at 8:45, but ate a very small portion. I am trying to eat 5 small meals a day. I must drink three liters of water today, so needless to say, I have peed at least 15 times, but no more orange. I am supposed to drink 3 liters of water every day for a month. We will need to stock up on toilet paper! A few months ago I was worried about running out of vodka, now I'm worried about running out of toilet paper. My worries have definitely gone downhill.

The hardest part about chemotherapy today was seeing a 24 year old young man getting three bags for his infusion. I think he had at least a 3-hour infusion. I don't know what type of cancer he has. He was there with his mom, and his grandfather came to visit. He was very good looking - the young man not the grandpa. If Riley was there, she would not have been able to keep her eyes off of him. So I guess you can say , my treatment chair did have a pretty good view after all!

Whacky Thought For The Day...
Sunflowers are peculiar flowers. Their heads follow the sun; they face one direction in the morning, and by the time the sun goes down, the heads have rotated up to 180 degrees.
Background Info:
Spring/Summer/Early Fall 2007 & 2008 I was part of a gardening staff for a large estate in Manchester. The gardens were designed in the early 1900's by Olmsted Jr. (Olmsted Sr. designed Central Park in NYC.) I worked with 3 other women in the perennial gardens and the vegetable garden. Westward Hoe, fellow staff gardener, vegetable garden master, runner, plant expert, Energizer Bunny, and most importantly friend, planted several types of sunflowers each year. They were plentiful. I got a kick out of watching the sunflowers turn their happy little faces toward the sun, and then twist around as the day progressed and the sun moved. Some of the sunflowers were huge too!
Present Day:
A dear friend in town, Super Mom, planted three sunflowers in a pot and brought them to me early this spring. She said that the flowers represented The Trinity: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. They were only a couple of inches high at the time of delivery. After they grew fairly tall, outgrowing their container, I was left with a conundrum, where should I transplant them so that I could get the best view of the flowers once they bloom? The back of our house faces directly south, with the sun coming from the direction of my backyard neighbor. I have a longish perennial garden across the back of the back yard, but if I place the flowers in this garden, I would only enjoy stems, leaves and the the back of the flowers' heads. I also have a smallish perennial garden right out my kitchen window that faces the backyard, with lawn between the two gardens, but with same problem of the flowers' back toward the window. Well, to make a long story longer, I placed them outside the kitchen window because it was closer, and when I was on the lawn, I would be looking directly into the flowers. However, something strange happened. The small 3 foot sunflower bloomed about 6 days ago, and it faces the sun. BUT, one of the two 6 foot sunflowers just bloomed and it is facing toward the kitchen window! Every other flowering plant in my garden, and that is a substantial amount, either face or grow toward the sun. But, not this sunflower, it proudly stands in a watchful position, smiling at me through the kitchen window, providing all day enjoyment viewed from inside my house. Is this one sunflower The Father, The Son or The Holy Spirit?


  1. must be the holy spirit -- he's here too help us!

  2. Love the pic Keval and the story too! How good the good God is! - St Julie Billiart, Founder of Sisters of Notre Dame De Namur