Nov 17

My Second Rituxan Treatment

On Friday, 11/16/01, I got my 2nd of 4 Rituxan treatments. It went well and I had no sickness or side-effects this time at all.

The day started out early. Mom picked me up for the trip to St. Joseph’s about 6:30 AM for my 7:45 AM appointment. She was working out how to get the wheelchair folded up to get it into her car when I announced that I’d decided to walk instead. I figured with the exercise I’d been getting I could make the short trips to the car and the car into the hospital and so forth. Besides, they have wheelchairs at the hospital if I really needed one.

My treatments are actually in the McAuley Cancer Care Center, which is another building near the hospital. It’s a very nice place with very friendly staff and of course, you can tell by the name, it’s for cancer patients. It’s a warm, fuzzy place that’s very homey and personal, not clinical. Everyone’s on a first-name basis from seeing each other week after week as they get their treatments. It’s a really nice, friendly place that I guess I’ll be getting to know very well over the course of my treatment. They have easy chairs and a little kitchen with snacks and drinks. TV and VCR setups are there so you can just settle back while getting your treatment through the IV and relax. You can get stuff from the cafeteria and have a regular meal even.

So we got there on time and I walked in and found an admissions desk and told the lady sitting there that I was new and she made me an red, St. Joseph’s ID card and got me started on my way.

I got my blood drawn, then a little while later saw my Oncologist. He examined me and said that everything is looking better. Not perfect, but certainly better. Blood platelets are up, lymph nodes are not as swollen, stuff like that. It was good news that went along with the fact that I’m feeling better and stronger every day. He said we’ll go forward with the 3 other Rituxan treatments and then move on to chemotherapy as planned.

He checked the stitches where the lymph nodes were removed and said he thought the stitches should stay in a couple of weeks because of where they are.

Based on the facts that it’s a slow growing cancer and it’s now in stage 4, I asked him if there was any way to guess how long I’ve actually had it. He said there was really no way to tell. He couldn’t even speculate. He also clarified for me that it’s a B-cell Lymphoma and a sub-type classified as “marginal.”

Then I got a flu shot and a pneumonia shot, set up my next 2 appointments, paid my $20 co-pay, checked out of that part of the center and moved on over to the treatment area.

Because it was my 1st time there, the nurse decided to put me in a bed so she could monitor me a little more closely. She said next time I would be out in the lounge with everyone else, which will be nice.

I asked how long it would take and the nurse said 4 or 5 hours. I had no idea it would take so long (I slept through practically the whole thing the first time) and my stomach growled at the thought. I hadn’t eaten yet. So mom went to the cafeteria and got us some breakfast of eggs, sausage, cereal, bagels and more.

The nurse gave me the 2 Tylenol that are part of the Rituxan treatment and set up the IV. Then the shot of Benadryl into the IV and started the Rituxan drip. She increased it as we went along, as planned. It lasted 4 or 5 hours that I spent mostly asleep because of the Benadryl, and I had no illness or side-effects at all.

She came in every half hour to check my temperature, blood pressure and pulse and mom sat there almost the whole time, reading or watching tapes on chemotherapy. I was planning to watch them too, but the Benadryl knocked me out pretty soon after I got it.

When it was finally over, about 3:30 PM, the nurse came and pulled the IV and I checked out and we were on our way, no fuss, no muss.

It was a longer day than I thought it would be. Next time I’ll be sure to have a nice, big breakfast before I start!