Friday, July 3, 2009

First Chemo Treatment Went Well

I was sitting on the front porch doing bills when Terri pulled up to drive me to the Duke Clinics. Terri set the bar pretty high! She arrived early and had a cup of coffee waiting for me. She convinced me to get tickets for the Jersey Boys musical, which is something Lou and I had been debating. And we generally just had a great time on our way to Durham.

I got to the Duke Clinics at 8:15AM, so I checked in for my 9:00AM appointment at 8:20AM and settled in for a long wait. I emptied my Lands End totebag, which I had randomly stuffed with stuff I might need (Tetris game, two books, calendar, lunch granola bar, drinks, Family Medical Leave Act paperwork, rosary beads, ginger chews from Heidi, pens, notepaper, cell phone, etc.) and as soon as it was all spread out on the chair next to me, they called my name. So I jammed everything back inside in a worse jumble than before and ran in to have my port "accessed" and blood drawn for labwork.

After that, I was still an hour early for Dr Reidel, but the nurses said he isn't a stickler for appointment times and they put me in a room to wait for him. I had time to organize my totebag and start playing Tetris, but it wasn't too long a wait. First I met an assistant and then Dr Reidel. The only news is that we aren't going to take a peek after six weeks of chemo because it might be too soon, but after nine weeks. Cool with me. I would rather not peek too early, get the wrong idea, and quit Gem/Tax prematurely.

Then I wandered around the building for about 30 minutes, got a muffin, phoned Lou, and then checked in early at the Treatment Room for the chemo. They gave me a pager (as if I were at a Red Robin restaurant) and I wandered around a little more. I was called pretty quickly and was seated in a chair for treatment at 11:15AM. Ellen was my nurse. There were some pre-meds and then the actual chemo started just before noon, so we knew I would be done around 1:35PM so I sent email to Meredyth at work to say I would pop out the front door at 1:45AM.

The Treatment Room at Duke is much bigger than the one I was in an UNC two years ago. It was both disconcerting to be in such a big room, but also entertaining. The way they have chairs, cabinets, and equipment arranged, you can't see everyone at one. But there's a steady hum of conversation and lots of beeping and lots of people walking around. I could see only three other people getting treatment, but I was also near the Nurses Station where all the action is. At one point one nurse was very upset that some unknown nurse had taken the goggles out of some kit without leaving a note...

Plus I finally picked up seven voicemail messages and checked my email on my phone.

The pharmacist visited me, gave me a calendar, and talked about Gem and Tax. She set my mind at ease about why I would not be getting Benedryl next week. The type of Tax I got last time was dissolved in a solution that caused a lot of people to have an allergic reaction, so the Benedryl was for the solution not the Tax! The Tax I am getting now is not dissolved in such a solution. I guess they have made progress in two years! Plus she also explained that now the Gem is administered over 90 minutes (instead of 30) because it gets better results -- but it also has a worse impact on white and red blood cell counts. So this time I really will need the Neulasta shot, which I get next Friday and which boosts the bone marrow to produce more of everything (and causes bone pain which is something to look forward to).

Nurse Ellen was great, but she was busy. When I was all done, my machine started beeping and a technician turned it off but did not inform Ellen. So 12 minutes went by, with me anxiously watching the clock and worrying about Meredyth waiting for me, till I saw Ellen and peevishly informed her that I was done. She took care of me immediately and sent me on my way, which was great. (I'll have to apologize to her next time I see her.)

I popped out of the front doors at 1:40PM and there was Meredyth waiting for me. We had a nice ride back and actually spent some time talking about WORK.

When I got home I got a big hug from Lou and we decided that since I felt fine, we needed to run a couple of errands. Good thing, because as we were nearing the end of the errands, I got pretty tired.

I slept great last night but woke up at 4:00AM this morning, which is probably a side effect of the Decadron they gave me yesterday. Grrrr Decadron! But 4:00AM is not bad. I tried to fall back to sleep but gave up at 4:45AM and figured I could come post.

I am not sure what is happening today. It's a holiday!


omerandpat said...

Sounds like you had a much better night than you expected. 4AM is not bad. We are frequently awake at that time but don't get up til 5.
Love you,

Glen said...

Glad the first treatment is done & went well. Hope you sleep well tonight! We're thinking of you. Lots of love, F & G

Anna Heyel said...

Hi Karen!
Sounds like you had a very busy day on Thursday. Enjoy your 4th of July! I'll see you this week. I'm on schedule for this Thursday.

susan said...

Lordy, you are sooo brave....will email you as to what all is going on here....hope that you can "feel" all the living thoughts being sent from us to you...

susan and dick