Chemo Day and I'm feeling good. Excluding the itching, most of my secondary symptoms have been significantly reduced. My cough is almost gone, my outer lymph nodes have shrunk, and the outer tumor in my groin has also been reduced. My appetite is back and I can eat anything.
Off to the Hospital. I give blood every week for testing so they can check my cell counts. Chemo can wreak havoc on Blood cells, White & Red. Or maybe Lymphoma chemo wreaks Havoc on Blood cells since blood cells cause Lymphoma? HL is caused by the immune cell type classified as an Antigen Presenting Cell; a scavenger that looks for invaders and, ironically, Cancer cells.
Anyway, I have to give blood on the day of chemo, if my cell lines are too low I can't have chemo. If the White cell counts are too high, indicating an infection, I can't have chemo. It's vital to get chemo every two weeks (to the day) to fight the Cancer. But they have to "fix" the cell counts first, then more chemo, which may "F" up the cell counts.
Nice potential Catch-22, no? Can be deadly, I suppose.
Needless to say, I'm very happy when I get the go ahead for chemo. I'm also very happy on non-chemo Thursdays when I don't receive a call after giving blood. No call=cells fine.
I give blood and then I have to see my oncologist before treatment. He is amazed to here that my secondary symptoms have almost dissapeared. He is quite amazed at the reduction in my multiple swellings and utters the words "early remission". I am hopeful but will not "plan" on it. He notes my cell counts are "perfect".
I start a discussion about my violent vommiting episode and tell him I suspect I didn't receive any anti-nausea medication during my first treatment. Chemo treatment appears to have a strict treatment protocol; the infusion nurse shows you each drug and has you read your name off of them before treatment starts. I've worked in Pharma & BioResearch so I also read the compound name and dose volume. I only remembered the ABVD drugs, nothing else. He insists I received the drugs. The Dr. informs me that he'll increase the anti-nausea drug volume (the "obvious" problem) and I'm off to the Treatment floor.
Treatment usually occurs in the Infusion Unit. they are overbooked so I get to go to the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMTx) Unit. This is not a fun place. Unlike the Onco Unit which is just one big Pahr-Tay. ;) Honestly, though, BMTx patients are in a "sterile" unit for up to 6mo. or so. They have there immune systems wiped out so they need extra care. I might go nuts if I need one!
The Nurse is very happy to see us. Dani & I are fun, have great senses of humor and won't let a little Cancer change that!
Now, we wait. They won't make the drugs until you arrive. They need your weight and the OK from your Dr. that your healthy enough. So the first Nurse tries to stick me in the meantime. I have great veins. Hitting mine is like hitting the proverbial wall from the inside. My veins seem to "roll" though. They seem to "roll" for only the idiots that can't stick me. At least, they are the only ones to inform me of this skill of my veins. Our once happy Nurse goes and gets another happy nurse. The new happy Nurse looks for a long time and sticks me. I, am not feeling so happy.
To be fair, they need certain veins b/c of all the crap they shoot in me and it is a big needle. I will ask for gauge size next time. And my veins do tend to Roll. :D For any of my ex-coworkers in the Pharma field who may read this: Remember those giant needles we stuck in the New Zealand White Rabbit ear veins? Same exact needle I think.
Happy Nurse1 comes back. We are still waiting for my drugs. In the meantime. I ask here about the anti-nausea drugs and how much more will I be getting? This seems to confuse her and she calls my Dr. We wait almost 3hrs for the drugs. Too long. Someone F'ed up. Thank God they have cable.
Happy Nurse1 comes in with the drugs finally. She has me read my name off the labels. I do so off the ABVD's and off the lable for Zofran and Dexamethasone!
Dex. is a Corticosteroid with anti-nausea capabilities (among other uses) and Zofran is an anti-nausea drug specifically designed for chemo treatment. Absolutly positive I was not given those during my first treatment. I'm so annoyed they could "F" that up but what can I do now? Nada.
They give me my test bleomycin sample. This is the "B", an antibiotic. Many people have an allergic reaction so they test for it during the first two treatments. If you have an allergy to it they give you massive amounts of benadryl in an attempt to "trick" your body. It's a critical drug - no replacement. I pass again.
I get two of the drugs injected by the nurse slowly over about 10minutes. The third is done mechanically for 15minutes. The fourth is an hour. I would hate to do this with no support. Thank God for Dani.
The fourth one hurts after awhile. It's a lot of stuff they pump into you. It's also the drug doing it's thing. Unfortunately, a little pain over time and during this procedure, seems to hurt more than it should. Maybe because you know it will happen every time?
The worst thing was how long we were there. Maybe 6 hours. They brought me food. I ate some to be polite?????????
Why do Hospitals feed sick people such crap? It's almost surreal.
From now on, we will pack food just in case.
So we leave. No chills. No shaking, no vomitting. We go home and eat. Dani's work place is very liberal. She works from home now so she can take care of me and keep me company. She worries so much. I love here so.
I think that might be it for 12/5. I'm tired as hell but wide awake. Time for some drinks.........I hope. Don't really have an "appetite" for alcohol. That's one of the worst side effects. ;) Get nauseas easily if I drink too soon after chemo. I think I might be babbeling.....as usual. Goodnight.