Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Chemo Cycle 4, Round 4

I went to the hospital today and had my chemo treatment (5/16/07). Same old same old with a few small twists. Last night my back broke out in a severe rash. It came on very suddenly; almost like an allergic reaction. These type of breakouts are a common side effect of Tarceva (a daily chemo pill that I take), but I didn’t realize it could just happen over a 30 minute or less timeframe. Since I am allergic to some bees and one other chemo drug, it had me somewhat worried. I don’t want to deal with anaphylactic shock. I considered calling my chemo doctor, but it was 9:30 PM and I didn’t think this constituted an emergency just yet. I decided to put some prescription medicine on the rash. The itching stopped within 5 minutes. This brings us back to today. Although I had a visit scheduled with both Dental Oncology and Plastic Surgery doctors, I wanted to make sure that my chemo staff felt comfortable proceeding with today’s treatment at the pre-arranged dosage. I checked into Dental, but then went to the Head & Neck Oncology clinic. Two nurses examined me very quickly (within 15 minutes of walking in). I described what happened along with a few other concerns such as fatigue and tingling in my hands and feet. They assured me that the reaction I had last night and the other symptoms were all within the expected side-effects of my treatment. It made me feel better to get that reassurance versus dwelling on it. I then went back to the Dental Oncology clinic. I had been called while I was gone during that 30 minute period. I waited another 30 minutes and was told I’d have to wait another 15 – 20 to see the doctor. I decided to reschedule as I was now about 30 minutes late for the chemo appointment. I registered at the chemo unit and then waited a little over an hour to be called back. This is typical. Chemo took about 3 hours. I called the Plastic Surgeon clinic during the chemo infusion and asked if the doctor would still be there at 3:00 PM. My appointment was for 2:00 PM. They doubted it, but asked that I call back when chemo was complete to check. He had gone onto other duties by the time I called back at 3:00 PM, so I rescheduled for 2 week out. It was a follow up visit and he did a great job, so this delay didn’t really bother me.

I recount this here not to bore you, but to help show the need for flexibility and patience in this process. Being a type A personality can create a lot of frustration due to the long waiting (we once waited 6 hours for a 30 second injection). I’ve learned to move past this frustration about a year ago. You are in control not just of whether you will be frustrated or flexible, but also of your treatment to a large extent. You collect information, you listen to recommendations, you set up schedules, and in the end it is all up to what you decide, not someone else. Given the long drive right through downtown Houston to and from my house to the hospital, I’ve decided I will only go there one day a week and I will do almost anything to avoid rush hour traffic. It means some days may be 16 hours long, but it beats having to drive back and forth and disrupt a daily routine which is important to keeping me as healthy as possible. So, this “one day a week” is MY rule and I’m sticking to it. Good night everyone.

1 comment:

dmostaffa said...

You don't know me but I read Leroy's blog which brought me to yours. Both of which I really find informative. I just want to let you know that I have been thinking of you and see where you haven't posted for 2 days now. I hope Wednesday's chemo didn't really get you down. Anyway, I just wanted you to know there are people out here praying for you. Look forward to an update.