Thursday, January 24, 2008

Chemo Cycle 9 – Round 3 (or “what’s a day of chemo treatment look like?”)

Hi. I had chemo yesterday. It seemed like a fairly routine visit overall. Here’s the raw logistics. It is a bit boring, but read on if you wish. I checked in for my blood draw at 1:00 PM. The place was packed. People are just dying to get in here. I always wanted to say that. Okay, maybe not so funny. I had a small insurance issue to take care of so I went to the business office and met with one of their business consultants. She understood the issue immediately, said her computer was down, but she would take care of it. I was back at the blood center at 1:20 PM. My name had not yet been called. At 1:35 PM, my name was called and I gave a blood sample. It literally takes about a minute and is generally painless. I then checked in for my chemo clinic appointment, but told them I was going to visit my dental oncology appointment first. My thinking here is that at least I can delude myself into thinking that this will get me into the queue for the chemo appointment. I arrive at my dental oncology appointment a 2:00 PM. I am pleasantly surprised when I’m called in at 2:20 PM and they begin my treatment immediately. A little side detour. A year+ ago I was wearing an oral prosthetic device that allowed me to speak at about 85% of my prior capability. When my cancer returned in December 2006 and then chemo began, it was so debilitating, that I had to stop wearing the device due to how it irritated my mouth. My oral cavity has changed since then and that device no longer fits. I decided to try a new device so that I can regain a better speech quality. They took an indentation of my upper and lower teeth/gums. It will take about 4 visits over the next 6 – 8 weeks to complete this process. I’m getting a devise that may even allow me to eat with it in. If that works, it will be a huge improvement. I was back in the chemo unit at 3:00 PM. Here again, I was pleasantly surprised when they called me in at 3:15 PM. I had my vitals taken. My blood analysis was back from the earlier blood draw. My chemo doctor examined me, said I looked very good, filled a few prescriptions, and sent me on my way to the chemo unit. The one part that bothered me about the visit was a recommendation that I see a doctor in the palliative care unit to assess me and see if anything can be done to help my fatigue. My doctor assured me it was not for hospice care. He thought they were better equipped then he was to address fatigue. That may be the case. But it spooks me. In my paranoid thinking, is it a way to get me comfortable with the people in the palliative care unit? Anyway, I agreed, but there was no rush on it, so I’ll probably see them in mid-February. By 3:55 PM I was in the Chemo unit. My chemo orders showed up at about 5:30 PM, an hour and 35 minutes later. I was brought back into the unit, my vitals were taken again, and I was sent to a private room. A wonderful nurse took care of me. She was from the Philippines. She had been an ICU nurse at the time I was in the ICU in July of 2006, but had recently transferred to the out patient chemo unit. I asked her to use a small needle (24 gauge) and to put it in very slowly. She got my IV started on the first try. Hooray. I really want to avoid getting a chemo port. My veins are pretty well shot at this point, but if they can do this again like they did yesterday, then I can avoid a port. It may hurt a little more when they do it slowly, but if they can do it right the first time, then that’s the way to go. I now had to wait for the chemo drugs to come from the pharmacy. That took about 30 minutes. The current chemo regimen took 90 minutes for round 1, 60 minutes for round 2, and 30 minutes for round 3. That was the round I had yesterday. Future treatments will take 30 minutes. They had to take vital sign immediately before and after the treatment. I finished at 7:00 PM.

So, if you ever wondered what one does in the hospital on chemo day, this should provide that insight. The hospital has full wireless Internet access. So, while waiting, I usually surf the net, write emails, read the Wall Street Journal, or watch DVDs. I watched the first 4 episodes of Season 5 of Scrubs while waiting for and during my chemo treatment. It’s a pretty funny show.

That’s all for now. Thanks for checking in. Take care everyone.

4 comments:

Hal said...

Happy Birthday Ed!!!!! For anyone who reads this, today is Ed's birthday.

Fran in Pgh said...

Finally got to see some of that Scrubs DVD. Glad you liked it! We think it's a really funny show.

Thanks for the full-blown detail of a day at chemo. It sure gives us a birds-eye view of what it's all about. I'm glad to learn these treatments are so much shorter than the early ones.

Happy Birthday to you, and many, many more to come!

Fran in Pgh said...

Nice to hear you finally got to see some of that Scrubs DVD. Glad you liked it! We think it's a really funny show.

Thanks for the full-blown detail of a day at chemo. It sure gives us a birds-eye view of what it's all about. I'm glad to learn these treatments are so much shorter than the early ones.

Happy Birthday to you, and many, many more to come

John said...

Ed,
Happy Birthday (a little late) and may you have many more.

God Bless you and your family!