Daily Archives: January 27, 2012

A long day at the Chemo Lounge

Yesterday was my second session of so-called strong chemo, taken as always at the world-famous Chemo Lounge. This one was sideways from the get-go. The doctors hadn’t sent over the orders, which the nurses (who run the Chemo Lounge) need to be able to do anything. So, it took about an extra hour to get that fixed. Then, they have to do blood work & labs to make sure my system can handle the chemo infusion. Which, apparently it was. So, I gets my pre-infusions, which include fluids (I always think of the teevee show Emergency & “5 ccs of Ringer’s lactate”), followed by Benadryl for allergic reactions & industrial-strength Pepcid for nausea control. That takes about another hour, where I am also waiting for the pharmacy to mix up the chemo cocktails. Around noon, four hours after all this starts, I get my first cocktail — carboplatin.

Now, this session is my 8th round of chemo…I had six in the first cycle, which were weaker cocktails, since I was doing radiation at the same time. Apparently, it is quite common for a chemo patient to experience an allergic reaction to the carboplatin around this point. And so, being a quite common man, that’s exactly what happened. And thank God the nurses were paying attention, because I wasn’t even aware of it happening while it was. I started coughing, I got red in the face, my heart rate went through the roof, my extremities got blood-red, and I was having trouble breathing. So…they stopped the carboplatin infusion, called the docs, who prescribed another dose of Benadryl and another dose of steroids. Which handled the deal. They restarted the chemo infusion, at a slower rate, and I made it to the end of that with no more issues. In restrospect, about the time I came out of the reaction, I realized it felt exactly like the old days when I’d get a bee or wasp sting. I hadn’t had that kind of reaction in about 10 years, either, despite stings since then. Weird.

By way of caution, the nurses did a slower rate of infusion for my second chemo cocktail (paclitaxel.) After a suitable waiting period, they cranked it up to normal. By then, I was feeling just fine, of course, and getting impatient from ten freaking hours of sitting in that damn chair. I was the last patient left, and there were two poor nurses who had to stay to finish it out. I walked out and got home about 14 hours after I’d left. Made for a long day. Used up half the battery on my Kindle (which, I think, that battery is getting the same damn battery problem that all these mod-cons get.) Ate all my snacks. Listened to 100+ songs on my iPod. Never unlimbered the laptop, surprisingly — I have the last season of Breaking Bad on it, but I’m kind of saving it. For what, though, I do not know.

Now, today, I’m feeling pretty good, although kind of weak and shaky, with a bit of a bubbly stomach. No muscle or joint pains, and if I do get them, the doc prescribed some more steroids (dexamethasone). I’m not too crazy about that, especially the prescription part of “take three times daily”, so I’m going to hold off until I think I need them. Yeah, that might be stupid, but damn, I’ve got a lot of dope running around in my body, and since it’s palliative and not therapeutic, I’ll take it as it comes. I wasn’t debilitated during the rirst round, and if I get that way this time, then I’ve got a choice to fix it.

Speaking of the dope, I should take a picture of my kitchen table. It’s covered in nostrums and potions and various meds. Completely unorganized. I write the name of the dope or the condition or the broad description on the cap, and just leave it sitting there. Some are in baggies for travel, some are no longer needed. Only one or two have migrated to the bathroom cabinet. It’s a mess, and a fine testament to how my organizational skills have deteriorated over the course of this ordeal. Ah, well…onward.

Oh, and next up…we have more scans! PET scan and CT scan. Then the wizards read them, and pronounce the ever-present “here’s what we do next.” That is two weeks away. I also have a filling for tooth that’s badly decayed and probably really needs a root canal, which I can’t afford that right now, if I can avoid it. It seems almost superfluous to be worrying about teeth, but hell, I look like a hobo already with the bald cabeza…toothless seems a step too far. A man’s gotta eat, right?

And so forward we go…it’s a journey. A wise man told me just the other day, “Cancer is not a disease of death, it’s a disease of life.” He’s right. There’s so much uncertainty and indeterminancy surrounding this, it’s very easy to lose sight of anything that’s not right in front of your nose…the next pill, the next meal, the next appointment, the next chemo, the next scan. Thinking much further than that seems kind of pointless, until you take what Tom says there to heart. You can’t let it take over your life. And so you don’t. And I won’t.