Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Day 1: Chemo Day

I woke up at 7:45 a.m. to both kids already being up and mostly dressed, fed, and cleaned up by Dan. I ran in to take my Synthroid medication first thing for my thyroid. I take it daily. When Grandma June arrived to watch little Maja, we took Tristan to school and headed to the Cancer Institute.

When we checked in for our 9:30 a.m. appointment, there was a woman in the waiting room who said she was nervous since this was her first time. She seemed flustered. I gave her my name and number and a little hug. This sort of thing happens a lot at the Cancer Institute. For some reason, once you walk through those doors, even if you're shy or nervous yourself in the outside world, the patients are all family. They're the only people who really understand; the only people you can talk frankly to about when your hair will return.

I was called back to be weighed and had my temperature taken. There are like 20 la-z-boy chairs each enclosed by curtains that can be opened or closed for privacy. I sat in chair 8. There was a small chair for Dan next to me. We started taking some video of my nurse accessing my port which will be up by the end of the week. She took some blood and sent it off to be checked to make sure my counts were high enough to do chemo today. They were!! White blood cell count was 5 and we just had to surpass 3.

My nurse hung up the bag of pre-meds (mostly steroids) and plugged me in to start the drip. That took about 20 minutes. The pre-meds make me feel really weird and almost drunk. It's like I've had a glass of wine because I can't quite speak with the same cadence or pronunciation. Thinking slows down. Next she hooked me up to a bag of Saline to hydrate and flush me. All these fluids make me have to use the restroom about 3 times an hour. I think the Saline takes about 15 minutes or so, but I can't really remember.

Then they hook up the big glass bottle of Taxol, a chemotherapy drug made from the bark or needles of a Yew tree. This one takes the longest: somewhere around 3 or 4 hours. I usually bring my video iPod and watch TV pilots I download from iTunes. When I get too tired to watch, I take a nap. I was cold so the nurse brought me some heated blankets. So nice!! The weirdest part about it is my legs and feet start twitching about this time from the pre-meds. It's like that restless leg syndrome thing or something. The only thing that helps it is when my support giver (today it's Dan) rubs my feet and calves.

When the Taxol is finished, I get a quick flush of Saline again, then it's time for the next chemotherapy drug called Carboplatin. Carbo is a drug manufactured from Platinum. It's a much smaller amount that comes in a bag. It takes about an hour for that drip, I think. When it's over, they flush a bit more Saline in me. They remove the needle from my chest and put a small patch on my port. It was about 3 p.m. when I realized I was done. Holy SH!T, I'm done. I looked around and there was one other person left in the infusion area. All the nurses came over and gave me a neat little award with a star on it signed by them all to commemorate my being done with chemo. I was trying so hard not to cry. There's just so much emotion and I was not prepared. I felt like I was giving an acceptance speech, but I really just wanted them all to know how nice and sweet they all are, and how much they touch people's lives. What a tough job.

I galloped out of the office and into the elevator. As I took a step out of the elevator, I suddenly had a burst of tears. It was almost a feeling of freedom that was making me cry! The weather was nice and the wind was lightly blowing in my ear. I was so excited to be done. I got in the car, and removed my scarf. I still don't have hair, but I guess it was symbolic. In a daze, we drove home. Dan left me with Maja for a couple of minutes while he went to get Tristan from school. When we were alone, I looked at her and just started bawling. Now, this was a feeling I wasn't expecting. What I felt now, was this: I was FINALLY able to concentrate on being a mommy. I felt like I was holding her for the first time, and I was about to enjoy everything that babies do. Before, I felt like she had been given to me to help me through this cancer/chemo thing. I didn't like that feeling because no mom wants to depend on her child. It should be the other way around.

Tristan came home and said, "Did you have your last chemo today?" Wow, smart little bugger. We all went to the park and Tristan had his dinner there. I felt fine, as I always do the day of chemo. I'm usually just a little "fuzzy". We walked home with the kids in the double stroller. Tristan had a bath and Maja had a bottle. She went to bed, we read Tristan some books and put him to bed, and I just lounged on the couch.

I took my evening pill called Citalopram or Celexa which is an anti-depressant. It really makes a difference for me. Celexa helps with nausea, and I like to take it at bedtime because it also makes me sleepy. The day of chemo I am kind of buzzing from all the steroids and I have a tough time getting to sleep sometimes. I was so tired, but I knew I was going to have a problem sleeping. I also tend to have some issues with eating due to the nausea, but I hadn't had any nausea yet. Remember when I said I was going to be completely honest? Well, here it is and you may not like it, but this is what works for me. I (allegedly) ate a cookie made with Marijuana that comes from a lady in town who gives it away to cancer patients for free. It doesn't taste all that great, but it's better than smoking it. It helps to relax me and make my legs stop jittering. It's pretty calming and helps make me eat when I don't want to.

I headed off to bed and fell asleep pretty quickly which is strange for me the day of chemo. However, I woke up after about an hour with some achy bones. That's from the Carbo, I think. I wanted to get up and take a pain pill, or a Tylenol PM, but it must have got away enough for me to fall back asleep.


Anonymous said...

I'm so proud of you. You're not just Tristan and Maja's hero, you're mine, too. You're a bada$$. dan :)

Anonymous said...

You do what you have to do and no one should judge you. I think you are superwoman, supermom, super future niece-in-law, superhuman, and an extradinary young lady to boot. You take everything in stride and don't miss a step.

Thanks for sharing your journal of thoughts and actions. Dan is lucky to have you, and wow - Tristan and Maja are so lucky to have you for a Mom. Your love of family is so evident. YOU ARE LOVED TOO - by very very many people, and I'm way up on that list!!!
Aunt T

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