Friday, June 25, 2010

The Smell of Victory Trumps Alien Stink

I was really dreading chemo today as much as anxious to have this first course over.  This morning was my last course of 8 weeks of the AC portion of my chemo.  This is the roughest, given every other week so you can rest and restore before you get the next bag of whoop ass.

My last treatment, two weeks ago, I had a really rough time on the stick.  It really hurt, like made me sick hurt.  Over these last two weeks the thought of it made me feel like I could vomit.  I don't throw up often folks.  As in rare.  I got this aversion when thinking about the stick.  What am I going to do when it's weekly?

Kitty said this time, she would  have me lay down to insert the port.  When I lay down, the port pops up a little more on my chest and she was hoping that would be easier.

I've been dreading it.  9 am this morning it was finally here.

My Vonda is on vacation this week.  Hello girl.  Wish I was in Tahoe with you.  Miss you.  The Good Witch is also on vacation this week.  Hope you are both enjoying the time with your respective families.

Never fear, the lovely Mariah all in pink was my check in nurse today.  and Krissy came to give me a hug. Kitty was waiting for me in the chemo center.  They always give me a private room, which is very thoughtful.  There are a handful of private rooms, and two large community rooms.  It's great to have the private room, I really appreciate they do this for me.  I'm all hooked up with the people that hook me up.  For once, I am the VIP getting the royal treatment I give the VIPs in my job.

A little secret?

Every single table is VIP to me.

That's why I'm a rock star on Yelp.  I've received some great comments from guests, but the best of all was one night, this adorable young couple came in, all excited to be in Napa. We hit it off right away, and then the young man said to me excitedly "Are you Kitty?"

The back story is on Yelp you aren't supposed to use a real server's name when you talk about them. So this one couple that gave me a fabulous review named me "Kitty" after the lady on That 70's show.  They thought I laugh like her.

Anyway, tonight's couple are total yelp addicts and they were hoping beyond hoping they would also be waited on by the fabulous Kitty.

"You read the review?" I laughed hysterically.  I had already been teased about it by our Chef owner and my coworkers, everyone calling me Kitty and saying things like "meow" and other things that can't be mentioned here.  You know who you are.

"Yes, yes, OMG, we were hoping we would get you!"

Crazy.  Crazy good.

My Kitty (also an alias) was dressed all in brown today which made her aqua green eyes glow.  We reclined the chair and I laid down and popped up that port as best I could.  Kitty was anxious, she knew last time was rough and felt bad about it.  She rubbed near my incision and on top of my port.

"How you been feeling?"

"I'm really tired today."

"Well your hemoglobin number was down.  It's still high enough for us to go ahead, but that's probably why you are feeling tired.  Your numbers will come back up next week."

"Yeah, I'm looking forward to a couple weeks off.  I don't start the weekly until Friday July 9th."

I think Kitty was trying to distract me from thinking about the stick.  Thank you Kitty but you don't understand who you are dealing with here.

I looked over at Husband.  He knows who she is dealing with.  He looked at me, he was dreading the stick as much as I was.  He looked a little sick himself then looked away.

Ok, take a deep deep breath, HERE WE GO."

My favorite ride at Disneyland is Peter Pan.  Remember in the beginning of the ride when Peter exclaims "Ok everybody, here we go!!!" and your little sailing ship glides through the children's room and out the shuttered window?  I never thought in a million years one of my favorite phrases would be what every nurse and lab tech would say prior to the stick.  Life is ironic and has a mean sense of humor sometimes.

I took a deep breath, like the ones in labor, it went in, ow, ow, then it stopped.

"Was that better?" Kitty really hoped.

"Yes much better."

Kitty tested it.  They draw out blood to make sure the port is still where it's supposed to be in the fat vein with the cool name.  Nothing happened.  She pressed down on the port trying to get the needle in deeper.  No Kitty no.  Don't touch it.  I felt like a kid when your Mom wants to touch the splinter.  No, don't touch it.

It was a few seconds of real discomfort and then the blood flowed.  She was in.  I know there was a minute we both thought she was going to stick me again.

"I think your port is very deep, I don't know if there is scar tissue on top or what, but there shouldn't be that much tissue on top of the port.  That's why this hurts, we are going through too much tissue and blood and nerves."

From what I read, there is supposed to be a thin veil of skin over the top of the port.  That is not the case with me.  It's still deep.

The chemo needle does not look like a regular small needle.  It looks like a small nail, curved like a fish hook.

Can I just say, I frickin hate that thing.  I hate it.  I hate it.

What am I going to do when I start 12 weeks of weekly chemo?  What am I going to do?

I am not so brave as you think I am.  My courage is only a couple seconds faster than my fear and former blond brain.

Before I knew it, the red bag was going in.  That's the big gun.  That's the one that is kicking this cancer's ass and made me lose my hair.  It takes about twenty minutes.  It is the "A" in the "AC" combo.

Here's from my earlier post "Finding Chemo" to remind you about these drugs.

I don't think I've told you yet what my chemo regimen will be. It's called AC-paclitaxel:
doxorubicin (dox-oh-ROO-bi-sin) or Adriamycin® (a-dree-a-MY-sin) 
cyclophosphamide (sye-kloe-FOSS-fa-mide) or Cytoxan® (sye-TOX-an)


These are the two drugs I will start with, given together, every two weeks, for four courses. So a total of eight weeks on these two. Also, the day after chemo and the day after that I will take the super pill, the expensive one, called Emend. It is a powerful anti-nausea drug. Also, the day after my first chemo treatment, I will be receiving a shot of a drug called neupogen. This helps when the chemo kills my bone marrow. I will have to go to the cancer center each morning to receive the shot, seven days in a row.

paclitaxel (PAK-li-tax-el) or Taxol® (TAX-all)

This drug will be given to me for 12 weeks, on a weekly basis.

I had to pee after the red bag of "A" and before I started the bag of "C" which takes an hour. I wheeled my IV stand into the bathroom.  You pee red right away.  Have I mentioned the stink?  It is not a normal human stink and way worse than after eating asparagus.  It is an alien stink.  Indescribable.  Like nothing you've ever smelled.  Alien stink.  I don't want to smell it ever again.

So is the taste that occurs in your mouth sometimes during chemo.  It was strong today.  It is a metallic alien taste, like biting into a droid and chewing twenty times before you swallow.

Alien stinks and alien tastes.  Welcome to Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Chemo but Were Afraid to Ask.

I finished up, now we gotta take the needle out.  Kitty flushes a little saline through it to clean me out and make sure everything has gone in and not still sitting in the tube that runs through my chest and into my Vena CavaVena Cava.  Sounds like a sexy wine cellar down a narrow staircase, candlelit, and you have to blow the dust off the bottles capped in red wax.

A little tip for you.  A wine bottle capped in wax DOES have a thin veil covering the top.  I think it's the easiest and sexiest way to go in.  Don't cut it, the wax is too thick underneath the rim of the bottle.  Just insert your cork screw into the top and patiently work it through the wax and into the cork.  Go as deep as you can, then pull it off.  The thin layer of wax on the top cracks away.  It works every time.  The crowd roars.

"Ok here we go."

Poor little Tink me.

She pulled it out.  It was a bit of a bleeder.  She pressed a cotton ball onto it.

She looked concerned.

"This is why this hurts so much going in.  I am going to check if we should have you massage it, and if that will help it pop up."

There's a joke in there but I'm leaving it.

The needle site bled a little more.  It should just bleed a drop and stop.

So I did it.  Finished today the AC regimen except for the shots, but no more little red bags for me.  I did it.

A milestone.

There is another milestone happening tonight.

Batman's first competition as part of the snare line of the Concord Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corp.  He will be on tour and competing all over the country, leading up to the finals in August before a full stadium.  The best drum corps in the country will give it their all at Lucas Field in Indianapolis, but only one will be the World Champion.  The Blue Devils are going for number 14.

Tonight in Clovis, California, my son will take the field in a blue and black uniform, and the dream he dreamed will take its first breath.

I am breathing it in from my bed.  I am so proud and so happy for you Son.

We did it.

Now let's win it.

I love you Batman.  your Mama (mana)

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