I get to G'town Cancer Center at 9:30 for my blood draw. I sit in the chair and present my left arm with what I thought was a caveat: "the last draw bruised the vein at my elbow, please don't use that one." Apparently, that was an invitation to the Vampire*, not a warning. As soon as he stabbed me I said "WTF?" He seemed oblivious to my concern. I wondered at the point if they just use veins until they collapse? Plus, what could I do at that point? he had stabbed me already and there seems to be only 3 Vampires. Do I complain and perhaps enrage the bloodsuckers and his siblings? I think not. Complain and all of a sudden they can't seem to hit my veins the first try.
*They seem to be Phlebotomists. From working in Hospitals, I've always known Phlebotomists as "Vampires". They may do more than draw blood but I've never seen it.
Trial 2 - Dani & I get a room and wait for my Oncologist. My vitals are taken and my weight is at a whopping 168!!!!! Remember, I weighed 145 coming out of the hospital in November. I have very little appetite but I eat. Dani makes sure I eat. I try my hardest to eat. However, for some reason I'm concerned that I'm getting "fat".
Oh no, I'm getting "fat". Forget cancer, I might be getting "fat". WTF is up with that? Hair loss and fat. That's what I need to be concerned about right now. ;) So be it. I hope I can get fat while fighting Cancer. I'll be a Fat Bald Phil. But I'll be a thriving fat bald Phil, Dammit!
Up to the BMTx floor and our favorite Nurse, Maggie. Nicest Nurse in the World. And like I said before, they love us. Love our attitude. Of course, I'm not in such dire straits. Can't imagine how depressing their job can be. Maggie is concerned. She remembers missing my vein last time and doesn't want to do it again. Maggie and her Nurse friend, Sabrina, are the "experts" at sticking outpatients. They help out on both Infusion & BMTx floors.
I tell Maggie not to worry and stick me anyway. I tell her to go for the vein she missed last time, it's one of my best. She misses. Chemo veins need to be nice, strong, and straight. I have plenty of them but they seem to "roll" a lot. This makes it difficult for the big Infusion Needles. I tell her to try again but She doesn't want to "hurt" me. I laugh and tell her needle sticks don't really hurt anymore but She doesn't budge. She goes and gets Sabrina from the Infusion Floor. Sabrina is checking out the veins on top of my arms in the wrist region. She's studying them like a Golfer studying the Green before a Putt. I've never had a wrist stick and it makes me uneasy. She says they're great places to stick, easy with less pain, and I might want to consider shaving my arms for future sticks. I remind her that I might not have arm hair much longer and I want to see how it falls out.
She sticks me. She pulls back blood. She flushes. She's causing more pain then I've ever felt. WTF has become my favorite saying this day. So I say; "WTF?". I flex my fingers slowly and cause myself more pain. Again, I say: "WTF??? This hurts more than anything I've had." It's like she stabbed a nerve. She withdraws the stick.
So now I have two very apologetic, stick expert/Nurses by my side. Quite amusing, I thought. Again, They're probably lucky they're apologetic, young, cute Nurses. ;)
Maggie decides they should "Tag Team" Me. :O I'll write about that Episode in Penthouse!!!!!!
LMAO!!!!!!!! Yes, I love amusing myself.
Anyway, Maggie is eyeing my upper left arm. About 2-3cm North of my Elbow. The veins are humongous up there. She sticks me and I spurt blood everywhere. They cap the Geyser and now I get to wait. Dani, meantime, decides to call Social Security. We got a message on Wednesday that they were missing some forms from me for my disability claim. My Case Worker wants me to "pop by". I'm a little busy so Dani calls. She's on automated hold for a few minutes before she is cut off. Dani plays this game for the better part of an hour or so. Apparently, DC SS workers don't like using their phones. Meantime, I sleep. I've become quite adept at falling asleep....................sort of. I mean, I can fall asleep in weird places.........weird for me.
God, I feel ill right now. It's 7:43PM EST. Sunday.....btw.
Drugs come, drugs go in my arm, we go home. 4PM. My vein/arm did not hurt for a change. They pump a huge volume in and the drugs are not nice so it usually hurts. The size of the vein must have helped. I was going to take pictures but my batteries died. Next time, K? :)
I "need" Neupogen. My Neutrophil count is 2700/micolitre. Well above the 1000 minimum threshold but my Doc is being cautious. I just hope his caution won't rupture my Spleen. I "debated" this with him but I wasn't really expecting any other outcome. Besides, I hope to become really good at injecting myself so I can put it on my resume.
Extendo-Nerves: My nerves are on edge after Therapy. I'm not talking in an emotional sense. I'm talking raw, physical nerves extending from my body and they are not happy. I can feel them mostly in my arms, sometimes in my legs. Someone explained it to Dani like a really bad sunburn. Never had one but my nerves are raw. Not always, but sometimes. More so as treatment continues. Dani went for a Play bite on my thigh once and I swung before she made contact. Swung in a defensive mode, not play mode. It hurt before she touched me. It hurt even though it was never going to hurt. I ended up hitting her a little too hard. Didn't mean to. And there was no damage. it was just a little harder than I would have swung if I was "normal". Pure instant defense. Caught off guard even though there was nothing to guard against. Makes sense to me but I'm not sure about anyone else. Anyway, I'm on edge so of course we go to Whole Foods! :) We usually put Iggy Pop in the car stereo for chemo day and "Mule Skinner" is our favorite, we blast it several times. Perfect for the trip to the Market and my mood. I'm a complete bastard to anyone who gets in our way or almost in our way. Most shoppers there are rude, snobby, make-too-much-money types so I really enjoy our going there after chemo. I mean, I really enjoy it. you should join us someday for it.
Off to Social Security office. It's afternoon. I don't feel well. My nausea has been increasing with each treatment. We assume SS will be swamped and are hoping we can just speak to the Man who called us. We are assuming this is not the way SS works, being govt., so we have a Plan B. Sure enough security tells us we will have to take a number because my Caseworker isn't expecting us. I ask how he could possibly expect us when no one answers the phone? She just smiles and gives more of her speech and we walk away. The room is full. No Problem.
Plan B: Dani goes over and intercepts the Security guard.
Dani: Excuse me. I'm sorry to bother you but my fiance just had chemotherapy yesterday and there's a good chance he might vomit shortly.
We meet with my Caseworker within minutes and I sign my name to three forms. They are all being very nice and apologetic and soon we are out the door.
Nausea: What is up with the nausea? It's new, within the last two treatments. It's not intense. I wake up feeling queasy. I feel queasy after eating. I feel queasy often now. I have no real appetite but that's no big deal. I get indegestion and hiccups like never before. I also feel bloated. That is, if a Man is allowed to feel bloated. I burp a lot to ease my stomach. And sometimes I just burp a lot. Dani suggests the bloating is from the corticosteroid. Why didn't I think of that? My brain is a big fuzzy cloud sometimes. I've taken a Prochlorperazine & Zofran every day since my last chemo. I also pop 6-12 Tums a day. They aren't doing much to help. WTF?????????????????
The Zofran saved me after my first treatment. It's kind of troubling that it's not helping now. Both of us are puzzled. is not nausea????? Might I need to try some alternative nausea treatments if I can't fix this? Might need to get out the brownie recipe if things get worse.
I tire so easily now and don't need to walk in order to experience shortness of breath. My communication skills, verbal, suck ass. Goes with the fuzzy cloud, perhaps. Home stretch..............................
Epiphany, Sunday 1/8/05
Dani & I are invited to her friends, Krissi & Reese, for the Fifth Annual Epiphany Brunch. It involves friends, food and bread with a buried coin in it. For a deeper explanation google Orthodox Greek and Epiphany maybe. Honestly, it's a really neat kind of Spritual event that I can't possibly explain and do justice to. Anyway, Dani was served the slice with the coin. They're great people and we wanted to stay longer but my nausea level was rising. I'm thinking I most likely won't puke but God Forbid I do and I'm not home. I mean, I think sooner or later I will vomit but I'm not sure what i will feel like before it happens. I want to be home the first time it happens. I'm hoping I can predict it. Hoping. I hope that makes sense. Sort of. It's the best I can do.
We leave. we need to donate the coin, preferably to a church. We decide it will be the first church we come across after getting out of Metro. On 16th St. We cross our first Church, a Catholic Church. Seems very appropriate.
We donate the coin and a wad of money from our pockets. We headed home feeling quite well.