Joe and I reported to the Manhattan Surgical Hospital at the (for me, at least) un-Godly hour of 7:15 am. With the drive and the required pre-procedure shower, I had to get up very early. I am not, nor have I ever been, a morning person. The shower is required because: a) general surgical cleanliness, and 2) I won't be allowed another one for 48 hours (eh, no big deal). They started me off with Fentanyl, brand name Sublimaze which was sheer brilliance in branding by the marketing department. Left me totally aware but with my niggling headache totally obliterated, which meant 20 questions for the staff in the room. That may have caused them to give me the 2nd drug a bit ahead of schedule, the Propanol, aka "The Michael Jackson Sleep Aid." Out like a light immediately. It was also very easy to wake up afterwards. Poof, I'm awake! Port placed with access (how the chemo folks get the drugs in) also in place. After about an hour, they sent me on my way.
Joe and I had time before chemo to go get me fed and caffeinated, both of which I really needed. Then we headed to the Infusion Center, which I've already figured out is staffed with a special breed of nurse. Actually, I've learned that all nurses are special, but the ones that deal with cancer patients are a special all to themselves, and I for one am extremely grateful. I've also discovered that my imperfect but big and goofy grin are going to be needed here too, just like at MD Anderson. Lots of folks who are legitimately feeling pretty down and out at this place. By the time this is over, I may be actually good at this smiling thing. They hooked me up and primed the pump with steroids and an anti-nausea drug. Once that was on board, they hit me with 2 of the drugs of my 3 drug regimen.
The first is oxaliplatin, and it's the one that is most likely to cause me problems that might shorten/change what they'll give me. It causes nerve issues and neuropathy (damage to the nerves that can be permanent). The primary short term issue is cold sensitivity, so I'm glad for the warm weather. My (unfortunate for his sake) guide on the journey who went through a nearly identical situation 3 years ago told me about drinking a cold beverage. He likened it to swallowing broken glass. Ouch. Needless to say, he never did that again! I discovered afterwards at the grocery store that they aren't kidding. I was holding a package from the refrigerated section, minding my own dang business, when I had the sensation that I was being stabbed all over the fingers in a multitude of places. Took me several beats to put 2 & 2 together before I finally realized it was the cold sensitivity. I dropped the Jimmy Dean pork sausage like a hot (cold?) potato and made an immediate retreat to the bread aisle, where it was warm but I could still maintain visual with my target. I called in backup (the daughters were in another area of the store) and had them get the now dangerous sausage for me. Looks like I will now be the crazy lady wearing gloves in the grocery store, in the kitchen and who knows where else, all the while sipping warm beverages on hot Kansas summer days. I'll figure out some way to have fun with this. I may go full out and start muttering to myself, jumping at nothing, and generally seeing if someone will call security or the police. I may wait until I have a daughter or friend with me so they can join my little fun. Heh, heh, heh!
OK, back on track. After the 2 drugs have infused over the course of about 2 hours, they give me a loading dose of a 3rd drug, the interestingly designated 5-FU, the name of which I believe could be considered "an attractive nuisance" for someone with a brain like mine. After they do that, they disconnect the IV pump and hook me up to a portable pump that dribbles in more 5-FU over the course of the next 2 days.
Can't wait to see how this works when trying to sleep. It's already interesting trying to deal with it along with my other device, the ostomy.
Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! I forgot to tell you about the Save the Anus campaign!
I've been telling you all all along (read it again; the 2 "alls" works) you can ask me anything about anything. No sacred cows here. So after working their way into it, someone got up the nerve to ask me if my ostomy was permanent or temporary. I can't believe I forgot to tell you guys this! Especially after the extensive fashion-wear campaign in support of my anus (Sue, Sue & Karen!). I am happy to report MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! I am still the proud owner of that much maligned but very important piece of my anatomy.
Where the heck were we? Oh, yeah. I've got a pump full of 5-FU. I get the pump pulled Wednesday, and then the girls and I hop into the truck, trailer and camper and head to a our state Jr. Angus show. I can't wait! Back to the normal stuff, and catching up with another special group of folks who back in January, auctioned off one of the Save the Anus shirts to raise over $2000 for the KS Angus Auxiliary, our group that provides educational and scholarship opportunities for our Jr. members. Looking very much forward to seeing everyone who ponied up, along with the "drivers" of the auction, the Dickersons, Shipmans and Hagers. These folks very kindly yet effectively strong armed a group of 20+ other friends in a beautiful and touching gesture of support for the cause AND the Auxiliary. See you all soon. :-)
And for the ever larger circle of friends, see you all soon too I hope. I'll be the one huffing and puffing away on the last leg of the Cancer Tri. The finish line is in sight, and I'm counting on all of you to push, pull, cheer, kick and cajole me across that finish line! I know I can count on you - you've never let me down!