Thursday, August 20, 2009

Three Down Six to Go

Buck and I, (that's my husband John whom I've called Buck for forty years) somehow manage to get up at 4:00 am when we need to. Yesterday, my first appointment at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute was at 6:30. Traffic on I-95, to Route 1, over the Tobin Bridge stayed light and we were there by 6:15. The elevator timer forced us to wait on the first floor until Floor 9 became an available destination at 6:30. We arrived to deserted check-in stations, not a soul around.

"We were told to be here at 6:30, were't we?" I said to Buck.

We tried to be patient, but the mere fact that we made the effort to honor the timetable and they didn't seem to care to do that, left me impatiently shaking my knees and searching for any signs of human activity anywhere on the floor. It was just about 6:40 when someone finally showed up and checked us in. No harm done. Got right through to be weighed, have blood pressure checked and then on to the IV nurse. We were in fact done with all that a half hour earlier than expected and had to wait for a while to see my oncologist.

I pulled out Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth. As always, she pulled me right into her short story Once in a Lifetime. So cleverly written in an unusual voice of a young Bengali girl speaking to a boy three years older whose family her family had befriended. Of course I didn't get very far before I was called in to see my oncologist.

The pain in my lower back that caused me to feel like I had a intermittent pump inside me, scared me to death and sent me running to the emergency room last Tuesday night had nothing to do with normal was the neulasta that Buck injected into the fleshy underside part of my upper arm to stimulate white cell production in my bones. Dr. A. has seen it a couple of times and the timing was right, about six days later, and it may or may not happen again. The good news was the tumor had visibly shrunk after two Avastin treatments. "I love this drug," said Dr. A.

We were up on Floor 10 for my infusion by 8:30 and on the road home by 12:30. I felt pretty good right after the infusion, however, on the ride home I reclined the car seat and slept a good share of it. It wasn't as bad as the second treatment, but it still isn't much fun to feel like crap, have a headache that won't quit, and even water doesn't taste good to drink! Yet fluids are so important at this stage of the game. Jello is good, vitamin water, fruit juices with ginger ale, they are all good and they all have those dreaded calories in them, in the form of white sugar too!

Just as I did after treatment 2, I ended up going to bed at 7:30 to try to escape the headache but of course I'm wide awake at 3:00 am. I will gradually have to recalibrate all of this over the next few days. Sitting here at the moment, drinking lemon zinger tea with honey, I'm having just a little indigestion, heartburn maybe. I've been taking Colace 3 times a day beginning yesterday and took two Senekot before bed. Supposedly, that's going to keep the systems from getting clogged up like last time. That'd be nice!

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