Chemo Day #3 Adventure (very long, but I don't want to forget the details):
Judy and I arrived at the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center at 10am. I didn't get called for my blood work until about 10:30. It was a pretty packed out place...which is sad since most of us were their for our chemo treatments. I weighed even more this time when they weighed me...I hate it. Next time they are probably going to have to use the 2nd big weight and that has never happened before. :o( Anyway, they took blood out of my finger for my blood counts to make sure I could have chemo. Then, we met with my doctor and his nurse assistant about 15 minutes later. He said my White Blood Cell counts were very high due to the Neulasta shot and commented that my bones were working overtime. Mine were 44,000 and normal is 4,000 to 10,000. (I'm sure it was everyone's prayers for me! Thank you!) So, because of the bone pain in my pelvis, hips, shoulder and sternum he is going to 1/2 the dosage this time (Praise the Lord!!!). This was happy news to me. The chemo nurse told me that they half the dosage in about 1/4 of their patients because their body reacts very well to the Neulasta shot and because those patients usually experience a lot of bone pain. I'm always such a special patient. lol! My doctor even commented yesterday that my body is VERY sensitive to the chemo, the drugs they give me and the shot. He also commented that I needed to start exercising on my good days since my weight is up. I guess I'll start using the treadmill that just sits in our living room instead of just hanging my purse on it. lol!
After we met with the doctor I go to the chemo room and find a chair I like. They are all recliners which makes it really nice. Although, Judy (or Kevan) have to sit in a normal chair and I'm sure it isn't comfy. I arrived in the chemo room about 11am. Once there, the drugs get ordered. I get 4 total (steroid, anti-nausea, cytoxan and taxotere - in that order). The steroid and anti-nausea meds take a little over an hour to drip. Then, the cytoxan was about 30 minutes and the Taxotere about 1 hour. So, a little over 2 hours for all. So, I want to get started as soon as possible.
Before I start the next section...if you have cancer and will be having chemo....get a PORT. I wanted one, but my doctor didn't want to put me through another surgery and he thought my veins would be just fine. We didn't realize at the time that I would be in the hospital twice so far and my veins would not cooperate at all. So, my advice to you...to make your life so much easier...is to GET A PORT! I should've demanded it.
I took a quick pic of myself in the chemo room (again, we aren't supposed to so I look funny in it since I didn't want to get caught smiling at my camera. lol).
First thing they have to do is my IV. One thing I am very tired of during this journey is the needle pricks. I already have scar tissue in 2 of my veins from the chemo and she told me that they can no longer use those veins for IV's. I want to say that I know that the following is in NO WAY the nurses fault. My veins were not co-operating on my left arm yesterday. I wanted to use my left arm only since my right arm is already showing lymphedema signs and the specialist told me not to use the right arm. So, please...no comments about the nurses. They are a blessing to me and I was praying the whole time for them and me. I believe that God wanted me to go through this for some reason because he wasn't answering my prayers. So, this was just part of his plan for me. Anyway, the first nurse tried to get a good vein. She noticed right away this wasn't going to be easy so she got a hot pack to see if she warmed my arm if they would appear. She had to prick me twice (about 20 minutes apart), but both times the veins wouldn't cooperate. So, she turned it over to another nurse. She tried once in another spot. Didn't work. Then, the chemo room was getting VERY busy so she asked another nurse to try. She tried 2 times to no avail. I was getting emotional because it is pretty painful to get pricked so many times and know that it was going to keep happening until it worked. The tears started to fall which I think really bothered the nurse because she didn't want me hurting. I tried to hide it, but I noticed everyone in the chemo room could tell I was crying. Sometimes I hate being an emotional girl! She suggested a little break. At this time, they had been trying for about 1.5 hours so far. They were really trying hard and not doing it too quickly so they wouldn't hurt me if they didn't have a really good vein option. I started to drink more fluids to see if it would help. Then, I told her to go ahead and use the right arm. I've NEVER had a problem with the right arm.
They called my doctor over to make sure it was okay to use the right arm. He measured a little with his fingers to see how much bigger the right was from the left. I told him last time I knew it was 6%, but I had just been discharged from a 4 day hospital stay where they pumped me with fluids. Also, the first time I had chemo they used the right arm. So, he gave them permission to use the right and they all agreed that they might use the right for my last treatment as well. The same nurse tried on the right arm on inside of the elbow because I didn't want it in my hand. When I get it in my hand my arm tends to hurt/ache during the drip process because the veins are so tiny. It didn't hurt during chemo #1 because they used a larger vein in the middle of my arm. Anyway, the vein didn't cooperate. She didn't want to try anymore (she had tried 3 times...we are at a total of 6). So, they called in a woman from another area who ALWAYS gets a good vein. :o) While I was waiting for her to arrive I posted a prayer request on Facebook so my friends would pray for me...I was very emotional at this point). She arrived a few minutes later, sat down, looked around, smacked my arm and chose on in my hand. :o( At this point, I was desperate...I didn't care where the vein was...I just wanted to get it over with. She tried a vein in my hand and it WORKED finally!!! They were able to take blood work for some additional tests, flush it and start my IV. Praise the Lord! Thank you all who prayed for me. They tried a total of 7 times before it was successful (God's perfect #)....a total of 8 though it you count my finger prick for blood counts. :o(
At 1:15pm they were finally starting my IV meds. I was so happy to finally get it started. I felt so bad that my mother-in-law was having to sit there and wait all this time. I told her to go grab some lunch for herself. So, she took a little break. I was able to hand out one of my cards that has my logo, blog address, email and ministry information to one of the nurses. I asked her to give it to a woman struggling with breast cancer. If she contacts me I will try to provide her with support and pray with her. She said she had a person in mind. Which was great news to hear. Here is a pic of my 'card'. I want to use it to reach out to those woman that are having a hard time with their diagnosis so I can pray with them and try to provide them hope during their journey. Also, ask if there is anything else I can do for them. (Kevan's cousin made me the logo based on what I wanted...he did an awesome job....also I blocked out my email from spammers)
I was also able to talk with an older woman next to me who had breast cancer and then 5 years later cancer re-appeared in one of her PET scans on her spine and liver. She is currently doing a clinical trial. There was a lot of commotion with her (due to vital checks, EKG breast, etc) so I wasn't able to get her name or give her my info, but I will definitely be praying for her...God knows her name. She also complimented me on my hair and told me it was a very stylish haircut. Then, I broke the news to her that it was a wig. LOL!
A young boy (about 16 or 17) came up to me at the end of his father's chemo and told me that he hoped my next chemo would not be so bad and that they would find a vein quickly. He said that he had been quietly praying for me and as he left he said "God Bless You". What a blessing! I told him God Bless you too as he was leaving the room. Such a sweet boy! I will be praying for them as well. I'm hoping to see them again so I can talk to them some more during my next treatment. There were a few other women in the back of the chemo room that also came up to me and told me they were sorry about my vein experience that day. I didn't realize so many realized what was happening since the room is so busy, but I guess when you are sitting there bored for so many hours and something interesting is happening everyone notices. lol!
I finished chemo at about 3:45pm. So, we were at the Cancer Center for about 5.75 hours. A long day. It was great to get out of there, but I wanted to say that I know it is hard for those nurses that have to watch so many get chemo every day (the same ones and new ones as well) and to go through the hardship of people like me with bad veins who don't have ports. They are all so sweet and I do appreciate them.
After chemo my MIL grabbed me some lunch (Lime Slush and breakfast burrito from Sonic. Ha!). Then, we drove back to my MIL's house and shortly after met up with some other family members for dinner. I wanted my MIL to at least have a special dinner on her birthday. So, we took her to the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Nashville. I was already starting to feel the brain fog and I was a little off balance already which I was really sad about. I wasn't able to eat much as I felt like I was gagging on my food. It was strange. After dinner we drove the 1.5 hour ride home. I had the bright idea of starting my raisins and prunes ritual earlier than I normally do after chemo. Usually I wait 4 days and my intestinal issues are already so bad that it takes several days of pain to get back to normal again. So, we stopped and got some from a store and I ate about 2 Tablespoons of raisins and 1 prune (I didn't want to over do it...usually I eat 3 to 4). Anyway, we went right to bed when we arrived home at 10:30pm. I woke up at 2am from really weird dreams that I was about to get sick. I laid there for about 15 minutes before I realized that there was no going back to sleep. The intestinal issues were starting earlier this time (Day 2). I was in a lot of pain. My intestines were cramping and talking back to me. lol! So, I spent the next 3 hours in the bathroom. Either on the toilet or laying in the floor. I found if I walked back to the couch and got comfortable I had to run right back to the bathroom...so I just laid in the floor in there. My kitty Stormie laid next to me like she knew Mama didn't feel good. It was sweet. I don't know if this episode was caused by the raisins/prunes or if it would've happened anyway since it always does at some point after chemo. I'm just glad that about 5:30am I was feeling much better. I made sure to drink some water since I really need to make sure I'm flushing out the chemo. Then, I laid down and was able to sleep until a little after 6:30am. So, I think I was able to sleep at least 5 hours. Which is a huge blessing since after my first chemo I only slept 3 hours. I didn't post the time for chemo #2, but I think it was 7 hours.
Today is a very special day. August 8th! My hubby's birthday. My doctor calls him "Husband of the Year". He really is. I am so blessed that God brought us together almost 10 years ago. He took the day off today so that we could do something for his birthday. I love you sweetheart! We have the day planned around my PT appointment and picking up a new license plate for the car. My prayer for today is just that my side effects will stay away long enough for him to have a special birthday. I'm already feeling weak and off balance so I'm trying to pray away those too. Here is a picture of us from the overlook where we got engaged. This was our 1 year anniversary hike (I was so thin and had hair!).
Again, thank you all for your prayers and for your encouragement. You all are a blessing as well.