Hey everyone! (Another long one--sorry!)
I'm going to start this blog while making tacos. I usually end up burning supper when I try to multi-task, so wish me luck :-) .
Yesterday Rich and I spent most of the day down at Regions. I had a 10:30 appt. with the Radiation Therapist, and a 2:30 appt. with a nurse at the Cancer Center for a chemo class.
The RT's name is Dr. Bisignani, and I liked him very much. I met with his nurse first and she went over the details about radiation. Then he pretty much went over the same stuff, and added some details. After 4 rounds of chemo (2 months) I will make an appt. to see him again for the planning session. At that time he will do a ct scan of my pelvic area to get exact measurements and stuff. Then he will put 3 little dots on my back (permanent tattoos--I'll sort have a "tramp stamp"!!) to mark where to pinpoint the radiation. I think I mentioned in my last blog the side effects of radiation--but mostly they are fatigue, diarrhea, skin irritation (in places the sun don't shine!), bladder/bowel irritation, and feeling the "urge to go". These side effects don't usually start until about 3 weeks into the treatment, but I might already have the fatigue and diarrhea from the chemo. The doc said they have creams, drugs, etc to help ease all the symptoms, and it really didn't sound as bad as I was expecting. I will have to have radiation for 5 1/2 weeks, Mon.- Fri. I'll be getting 1 of my chemo drugs (5FU) continuously for the duration. I'll stop in at the cancer clinic once a week and they'll change the needle and give my pump a new cartridge. The best part?? FREE PARKING! We'll get some sort of ID that will let us in a gated parking lot right by the door to the radiation clinic! That ramp parking is getting expensive!
The chemo class was good. There was one other woman there who is having the same chemo drugs I am. I pretty much knew everything we talked about, and had already read over the literature she used, but it was nice to be able to ask the nurse some questions. The procedure when I go to chemo is (and sorry if I've covered this before!), I get my blood drawn to check blood counts and kidney and liver function, then I meet with the oncologist, then, if my labs come back ok, they start giving me the drugs. First they give me some fluids and an anti-nausea drug thru my port, and that takes 15 to 20 min. Then they give me 2 of the "Folfox" drugs together over 2 hours. I then get a 2 min. boost of the 5fu drug(the 3rd Folfox drug) that I'll be taking home in the pump. Last, they hook me up to my pump and I take it home! The whole thing should take about 3.5 to 4 hours.
We talked alot about side effects. I'm still not sure about the hair thing. I was pretty sure I had figured out that people don't usually lose their hair with this chemo, but I guess some do, and some have enough thinning that they like to wear a wig. I'll eventually get a shorter hair cut, but I think I'll wait and see before I do anything too drastic. I'm going to get some Emla cream to put on my port to numb the skin before chemo. I've heard that it can hurt the 1st few times. A friend told me about the cream and the nurse called today to tell me the doc ok'd it and sent in a prescription for me. If I didn't have the cream, I could also ask the nurses to use ice to numb the area first. (Speaking of my port, its feeling much better--just a little sore.)As I said, I'll get one anti-nausea drug in the IV, and then I'll have 2 others to take at home every few hours, even if I don't feel sick. Then I think I'll have 2 other anti-nausea drugs to take as needed if all the other stuff isn't working!
The nurse, Andrea, showed us around the clinic. The chemo area has about 15 chairs, some with curtains. There are 5 private rooms filled on a "first-come" basis. The private rooms have tvs with a vcr and dvd. They have a fridge with lots of juices and different drinks, a microwave and soups, and baskets with crackers and treats. You can also bring your own food to microwave.
The biggest thing I got out of today is that any side effect that gets too uncomfortable, or doesn't seem right, I need to call and let the doc know. If I'm throwing up alot and can't keep anything down, I'm supposed to call. There are things they can do to help almost any situation, and that goes for radiation too. There is a dietician and a social worker (and probably other specialists) that can be scheduled to meet with me during chemo, if needed.
The lady that was in the chemo class with me is really nervous about chemo. She watched her husband go thru it several years ago for lung cancer (he eventually died), and he was really sick from the drugs. It sounds like he didn't have all the anti nausea drugs we have now, and supposedly our regimen is not as strong as for some types of cancer (thank God!). I do know what she is feeling tho. I'm in a really good place emotionally now, and I know that's God's doing, because for awhile, right after surgery, I was feeling really scared and upset about all this. My peace right now is definintely God given!! For awhile I was upset because I have no other options. I never was one who liked being told what to do! I felt like I was on some evil train that I couldn't get off, and I was doomed to feeling sick and miserable. Now I keep thanking God for my blessings, and I'll trust in Him that I'll get thru this all ok.
On Wed. I went to work for a visit. Thanks for all the hugs!!!! I didn't even mind that they hurt my newly implanted port! It was worth a little discomfort! It looks like I'll be able to work 3.5 hours, instead of my usual 4.5 (5 hours with lunch). That's the plan now until the end of the school year. We'll figure my Fall schedule in Aug. I'll have a better idea how I'm feeling then. Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't have waited to see how I feel before cutting my hours, but I know me, and I know I'll be tired, and working 3.5 hours will be much more doable. Working with kids is a stressful job, and its hard to be loving, caring, and attentive when you feel like crap! I definitely LOVE my job tho. I miss the kiddos. I'll be putting some hand sanitizer in the lunchroom to use, and do my best to keep all those germs off me! Hopefully my white blood cell count will stay up and I won't have to worry about infections. I start back to work next Thurs, April 2nd!
Ok, I'll quit now. Oh! I want to thank my friend Carol for dinner the other night! I had a great time! It was good to see everyone.
Love and blessings!!