Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cancer Blog #10 - Remembering Chemo...

August 24, 2012

Confession: The last time I wrote on this blog was 7 months ago... I will try to recap as best I can the last few months. 

My chemo was delayed on January 30th because my white cell count wasn't high enough, so I went back the following Tuesday.  My Dad left Spain that previous Thursday and called that morning to make sure I was ok.  

Everyone knew I was pretty nervous about the chemo. 

Johann and I got to the clinic early and after my blood draw which comes first (so the doctor can review my numbers before I take the chemo) and then went to the hospital cafe for breakfast.  We had molettes (toasted spanish bread with butter and jam) and cafe con leche.  We giggled at some patrons who came in to have a ceveza (beer) to start the morning...I joked that I better not see MY doctor in there and just as I said that, he walked in.  He only ordered a coffee (you KNOW we were watching!!!) 

Then it was time to check in for my appointment.  It was only down the hall from the cafe, but it seemed like the longest walk ever.  I felt like I was walking to the guillotine.  There was a small chapel in the hospital, conveniently located between the cafe and my Dr.s office so I slipped in there to say a little prayer...a BIG prayer actually.  Begging God to have mercy on me. To give me strength to face whatever was coming down the line.  I was fully aware that I was facing a long road and today was the beginning.  I needed His help. 

I kneeled there for a while and then realized, after my prayer ended and I was still sitting there, that I was no longer praying, but I got up and met Johann in the Dr.s office.  He'd set up my iPod so I could listen to my favorite songs and relax a bit.  He'd also downloaded some movies and television episodes to keep me busy while we waited...I turned on Israel Houghton's  Friend medley and listened to it on repeat and felt immediately relaxed.  That song would get me through pretty much ALL my chemo sessions...

And they called my name.  Johann and I met with the doctor who oked me for chemo and I went to the ambulatory infusion center right next door for the treatment. 

I would learn that this chemo room would be pretty standard in the comfy recliners that lined the room.  Big windows along the wall, letting in lots of sunlight.  

I saw men and women, mostly older, some youngish, like me, laughing and chatting with their spouse, friends, or other family members as if they were sitting in a Starbucks.  This made me feel better too.  I don't know what I was expecting, but there they were, no one was in pain or crying or even looked particularly "sick." 

My nurse came to start my infusion.  I noticed the IV contents were red and knew that must be the Adriomycin (aka - Red Devil).  Johann gave my hand a squeeze as the nurse found the port in my chest and poked right in with the IV.  She asked me (in Spanish) if I was ok, and I said, yes, and she smiled and gave my arm a reassuring rub before walking away.  

I noticed too that the other patients in the room had looked over to see me getting my (obviously) first chemo.  Johann was busy taking my picture hooked up to the IV, and I had that shell shocked look.  So we were clearly the newbies...all of them also gave me a reassuring smile.  As one older women finished her chemo, she and her husband stopped by to ask how many treatments I'd had. I told her this was my first and she said, that that was her last.  She said (in Spanish) for me to be strong ("muy fuerte") and hang in there!  I loved her immediately and wanted to hug her.  

And so, chemo number 1 came and went without much ado.  I was also given a Neulasta shot which I was to inject into my stomach.  Neulasta is a drug that boosts the immune system to counteract the chemo which kills all my white blood cells.  

Johann played nurse and gave me my shot the next morning.  I was not happy about being given a shot especially by someone with NO medical training...but there was a lot of things I didn't particularly like about this situation...

t spent the rest of the day in bed, resting and feeling slightly nauseated.  I didn't eat much.  But overall, felt that I felt better than I expected to feel.    

Here's a picture of my "Port scar"...underneath that small incision, the Dr. in Germany placed a plastic portal that attaches to my vein and receives the chemotherapy.  It's kind of like the Matrix, but instead of plugging into an alternate reality, they plug the chemo needle in and I get the meds without messing up the veins in my arms.

And here's the DREADED NEEDLE!!!! :-)

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