Jan 08

CHOP It Out!

January 8th, 2004.

My first CHOP chemo treatment was today and everything went just fine.

Right off the bat, I didn’t get lost. Hehehe… I went right to the doctor’s office this time, and got there early. I only had $20 bills on me, and my co-pay is $30, and she didn’t have a way to change it, so she suggested I pay by check. Great idea! So I whipped out my check book, borrowed a pen (which is VERY unusual, as I’m known to ALWAYS have a pen on me, as my ‘most valuable tool’), and proceeded to make it out. I asked to be sure, “Who do I make it out to?” and with a sly grin, she said “Delia -hehehe. Just kidding, make it out to Dr. da Roza.” I thought that was pretty cute, and it made me laugh.Then the nurse that saved my life yesterday invited me back to the ‘comfy chair room’ and I had a seat in the same ‘lucky’ seat I’d picked yesterday. After that experience, I’m calling it ‘mine’. LOL!

I pulled the magazine that I started yesterday from the rack, put the pillow on my lap and extended my IV arm for the insertion into my vein. She’s got a good touch, no doubt from lots of experience, and it went right in with only the slightest little pinprick of a feeling. Pretty soon the fluids were flowing and I was reading a fascinating article about personal flying vehicles like the Air Scooter in a year and a half old copy of Popular Science. I want one already!

Somewhere along “the way of the drip” the nurse came in with 3 or 4 large syringes with bright red liquid in them, and got comfortable near the port in the IV tube. She said, “you might not want to watch this” and of course, I asked with glee, “why? Is it going to be scary?” I could hardly wait! I told her that I really find all this stuff to be quite fascinating, which she seemed to think was kinda funny. So now we were both having a pretty good time with it, and I asked, “uh… what are we doing?”

She explained that this was the Doxorubicin, which is the “H” in CHOP, which stands for Hydroxydaunomycin, which is an Antitumor Antibiotic. Cool huh?! This is the chemical I didn’t have in my first series of chemo, two years ago. She asked if my hair fell out last time, and I told her it thinned a bit, but it wasn’t really noticeable except in the tub after a shower. She said that this stuff would DEFINITELY make it all fall out, and since it will fall out in clumps and look pretty silly, I might want to just shave my head. That sounded like a pretty good idea, and I almost went and had it done right afterwards, but mom’s flying in today, and I thought she could come with me and take pictures of the event so I can post them in a future update. I’m goofy like that – hehehe!

So, she plugged the big syringes into the IV port one at a time and slowly pushed the red fluid in. Up the tube it went towards my arm, looking a bit like Kool-Aid in a silly straw, then disappeared into me. (I guess that was supposed to be the scary part, but I rather enjoyed it.) It felt just slightly cooler than my body temperature, which felt kinda nice as it went in.

When that part was done, she hooked up a different bag of chemicals on the IV tree and set it to dripping, and I went back to my reading. A couple other patients came in and got set up with their drips. Again, one of them had a port installed in her chest to get the treatments. She settled in for a nap pretty quickly in the big easy chair while her companion read a magazine. There was soft jazz music playing in the background and it was all very pleasant.

Soon enough, all my drippings had dripped and she unplugged me and sent me on my way, with a reminder to come back next week to see the doc. I gave her the “okey dokey” and headed for the front desk, where I got a receipt from Delia for the thirty bucks, and was on my way.

The nurse had called in three prescriptions the day before to a Walgreen’s across the street, so I headed over there to pick them up. One of them is Prednisone, the nasty tasting steroid pills that are the “P” in CHOP, but this time I know how to deal with them. Milk is the key, so I bought a fresh quart of good old vitamin D while I was there. If you ever have to take Prednisone you’re going to thank me for this next bit of advice: Take a drink of milk to coat your mouth and swallow it to coat your throat. Next, take a drink of milk and hold it in your mouth. Now ready the Prednisone pill near your lips, open them enough to get the pill in without the milk spilling out, and as soon as it’s in, swallow the mouthful of milk. The pill will go right down with it and you won’t have to experience a seriously foul taste you REALLY don’t want to get to know personally. You’re welcome. Hehehe!

The other two prescriptions were for:

  • Prochlorperazine, one tablet every six hours as needed for nausea.
  • Lorazepam, one tablet every six to eight hours as needed for severe nausea.

In addition, she gave me some samples of Zofran before I left the office, which she said would work well for REALLY intense nausea, if the others didn’t. So, I got the hook up here when it comes to nausea control. Well…. Not that I don’t trust her and modern chemistry, but I bought a new bucket on the way home anyway… these things have a way of sneaking up on ya. Trust me on that one!

When I got out of Walgreen’s, I turned on my phone again They like us to only talk on cell phones outside the doc’s office, so as not to disturb the other patients, and since I was tethered to a little bag of medicine on a metal pole, and seated comfortably in an easy chair, I figured I’d just let it take messages for a little while. There was only one message, from our human resources director in the corporate office. She wanted to know if she should start up the paperwork for medical leave and disability and stuff like that.

I had a pretty rough ride the first time this hit me and I found out I had cancer. I was working for the same company at the time, but I was in Knoxville, Tennessee (which was beautiful). Anyway, it knocked me down hard and put me in bed, then a wheelchair, then more bed, then… well, you get the idea. I couldn’t work for a while.

So she was looking out for me, and I really have to say that it’s great to work for these folks. But I had some good news for her (and me). This time we KNOW what I have and KNEW it was coming back and have been watching for it BEFORE it gets a chance to knock me down so I can deal with it better. THIS time, I’m in control, and I feel fine and able to work right though it. My plan right now is to take a morning off here and there about every three weeks to get a chemo treatment, and be in the office by noon. I let her know that I just left the doc’s office after a chemo treatment, felt great, was headed to get a bite to eat, and would be in the office shortly. (I got there by noon).

She said that was great news and she was so glad that it was going so well for me. I promised to let her know if anything changes and I need a little more time off than I expected, and we’ll work with it then. Otherwise, the only real change will be that I’ll be bald soon, but I wear lots of hats anyway, so it probably won’t even be all that noticeable!

Everyone at the office said I looked great, and how did I feel, and there were lots of smiles. I grinned right back and gave them all the truth: “I feel terrific!”, then settled in to get some work done. I caught up everything from yesterday while I was out, as well as today. I went through all my emails, replied where appropriate, visited with my staff one on one for updates, and stayed till almost 5. Not a bad day at all. I felt like I got a lot accomplished.

Just after 6: pm, I got a phone call from mom, who was at the airport in San Francisco. My brother Bill works there and is on vacation, so he picked her up. They said they were going to get something to eat and then they’d head this way. Mom will be staying with me while I get my treatments, and I’m looking forward to doing some sightseeing with her and Bill while she’s here. I still haven’t made it over to see the giant redwoods and Yosemite National Park, so that’s a destination I think we should definitely take. I’ll be sure to get lots of pics to post.

Ahhh… Another day in paradise!