Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Chemo Countdown Begins

I had my next to last chemo round today (5/23/07). The last round is scheduled for next Wednesday (5/30/07). We were at the hospital for about 5.5 hours. Add in the round trip drive and it was an 8-hour ordeal. Not an easy feat when you’ve spent the last five days in bed. I had an appointment with the Dental Oncology clinic, but the nurse who set up getting me in to see the doctor quickly wasn’t in today and I had higher priority needs, so this is one that I will have to reschedule. I gave a blood sample. They are so good there. In and out in under 5 minutes. I signed in for my chemo treatment. I have never had to wait less than an hour past my appointment time to be seen, so I thought I’d game the system a bit today knowing that I was checking in 20 minutes early, but that my blood labs would take about an hour to show up. They need those before they can administer the chemo drugs. We then headed to my chemo oncologist’s clinic. He had called me last night to see how I was doing, but I missed his call. I wanted to confirm that the side effects I wrote to him about on Monday were within expected limits. A very nice nurse who I have met with before sat with us (my wife came with me today) and I reviewed the list of negative side-effects. She looked at my labs and at me. She empathized greatly with the side effects, told me which drugs were causing which effects, said I was doing amazingly well, and would talk with my doctor to confirm. She left and then came back a few minutes later with my blood results in hand and let me know they were all within expected limits. Feeling newly reassured, we headed back to the chemo unit. They tried starting chemo about an hour after my appointed time. This was pretty good for them. My nurse tried one vein, but missed. I’m not as hydrated as I should be and the veins are harder to hit. She didn’t want to try again; she made a call to the special IV team. Before the special team had a chance to show up, another nurse asked if he might try. I said sure. He got it and away we went. I watched 7 straight episodes of the HBO series, The Larry Sanders Show, season 1, on my laptop. Very clever. Maybe not quite as good as the three seasons of Arrested Development (long but one of the best, I highly recommend it) or the original 2 seasons of the BBC version of The Office, but definitely on par with Curb Your Enthusiasm.

When we got home, I made an Excel daily countdown graph which shows by day how I think I’ll feel over the next 18 days. By the 19th day, I should be back up to regaining my stamina, so I stopped at 18. The graph is on a 0 to 10 scale. 10 is back to being able to exercise comfortably, 0 is dead. The scale doesn’t hit 0 or 10 during the next 18 days. The high (best) day is projected to be today, a 7. There are about 5 days which are a 2 (lowest point, hopefully). I’ve based this on how my treatments rounds have gone so far.

Last night I finished my Michael Connolly book, The Last Coyote. Without giving the story away, he tied up all the loose ends. Hey, it’s Hollywood. Los Angeles is the venue for most of his books. Having lived in Los Angeles myself for so many years, I like reading about places I know (e.g., make a right onto Sepulveda Blvd from Moorpark Drive). I have another of his books on the nightstand which I’ll start soon: A Darkness More Than Night. If anyone would like The Last Coyote, let me know and I’ll get it to you. First come, first served. Someone already claimed the Larry Sanders show or I’d offer that one up as well.

Take care.

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