9 March 2011

Chemo #2 done.

It was another long day, longer than I’d hoped since I had scheduled an HVAC repairman (heat pump thermostat has gone bonkers) to come out at 2:30 (now rescheduled for tomorrow). I finally got home about 4:45 PM.

My appointment with Dr. Bajaj was at 8:45 but being forewarned I came prepared for waiting with a “fresh” old book to re-read.

At 9:30 I was invited back to the lab, weighed (181), and the very careful lab tech drew blood from the vein in my elbow as she explained why they prefer not to use the portacath for that. It stung quite a bit and went pretty slow but she didn’t blow the vein, thank goodness.

She then showed me to an exam room, where Dr. Bajaj’s nurse took my BP on request: 128/72. Seemed a bit low to me, but I’d taken both BP meds just before I left home.

Dr. Bajaj saw me about 10:15. After some questions and an exam, he said some of the swelling had subsided and things looked okay. He looked at the mouth ulcer (which has nearly completely healed now) and wrote me a Rx for Magic Mouthwash. I learned that I’m to come back to his office for a FU before chemo next time also, probably every time.

I asked for a copy of the echocardiogram report, done the same day the portacath was implanted. He flipped through my chart and didn’t see it. He said he’d get the hospital to fax over a copy, would be back in a minute.

That turned into a long, long wait – the hospital’s computer system was down. Finally he came back and said to go on over to IV Therapy and they would have a copy by the time I got there.

What was the big deal? Oh, he said – you can’t have another chemotherapy session until we know your echocardiogram was okay. Why? Because of possible bad, permanent, cardiac side effects from chemo. Well, that I already knew, but since I’d had the first session I had assumed they had the echo results already and had cleared me.

Reminder to self: Never Assume Anything.

When I arrived at McLeod OP at 11:00, the clerk said I did NOT need to register today since I’d just been there two weeks ago. On to IV Therapy I went and signed in — only to be corrected a few minutes later by Bobbie, one of their nurses; I did need to register at the first of every month. Bobbie walked back to OP with me and in another few minutes or so I was registered.

(Side note: Mrs. Gibbs was the registration clerk — I didn’t remind her today that I was Tim’s wife because it would probably have resulted in a fairly long catching-up session. Her son Eddie Gibbs was also a Univ. of Minn. pancreas/kidney transplant patient, whose transplants unfortunately failed. Along with Tim and Ann Poston, founders and “leaders of the pack,” Eddie was one of the now-defunct UP Club members. UP stands for “used parts;” it was a support group for transplants of all kinds and had over a dozen members from around the Pee Dee.)

On my return to IV Therapy, Bobbie promptly escorted me to a room and took vital signs. By now my BP was 171/85. Hmmm. As we chatted, I learned she also loved to read mysteries and that she was a Christian. She was very friendly, upbeat and cheerful, just what I needed.

Plopping down on the bed, I turned on the TV and found the Space Shuttle Discovery about to land at Kennedy Space Center! I’m a real space nut. The shuttle is still thrilling to watch, no matter how many times I’ve seen it take off or land in the past.

I was a Twitter-mate of one of the last shuttle team members (he posted lots of photos), and am now of one of the current members (not really posting much).

At noon I buzzed the desk and asked about the echocardiogram report. They didn’t have it yet but it had been requested. They couldn’t order my meds until that report came!

But they did order my lunch, which turned out to be the same menu as last time. That was fine with me, I liked everything.

About 1:00 I finished up my oatmeal cookie just as another nurse came in to access my port. She promised to let me know as soon as the echo report was in and cleared by the doctor so they could order the chemo meds — all of which happened a few minutes later.

There was a very important reason for me to know about that report: I couldn’t take the Emend until I knew for sure I would have chemotherapy today.

(If the echo was a “bad report,” I couldn’t continue taking these medications. Others, but not these particular ones, and that might mean rescheduling my session for another day.)

In retrospect, regardless of the delay it caused I’m glad I asked Dr. Bajaj about it. Dr. Sonfield received the original report. I’m sure he would have brought it up had it not been okay, but Dr. Bajaj wanted to see it for himself.

I asked the IV Therapy nurse to make me a copy of the echo report, as well as a copy of the blood work for my records. They were glad to do that for me. More about those later, maybe. Neither one was exactly normal…

Somewhere between 2:00 and 2:30, my medications arrived from the pharmacy. A different RN, Cheryl, hung the Cytoxan first, saying it didn’t matter which order they were given and she preferred to do the Adriamycin push last when she wouldn’t be quite as busy. Lots of patients today.

During that uneventful hour I watched a little news, the last part of an old A-Team on TV, and finished up the book I’d started this morning. And called Shelby to report on my “slow progress,” and to ask if she’d let A-1 Comfort Systems know I’d be late getting home and would call when I did.

When Cheryl returned to administer the Adriamycin, we got to know each other a little. I discovered that she was one of the Home Health nurses who came to the condo to take care of Tim after his transplants! Small world, indeed. I like her a lot.

I finally left the IV Therapy department about 4:00 PM, drove to Carolina Mailbox, gave Shelby a very short shopping list for me (at her request), detoured through McDonald’s for supper to take home, and finally made it home about 4:45. I called A-1 to reschedule for tomorrow, ate my Big Mac and fries, and watched a little TV news.

Of course I had to baby Friday some, too. He wanted to lay crosswise my left elbow or shoulder, as if he’d not seen me for a week! He’s now sitting at my feet here in the office, not content to lay on his little bearskin rug. Too far away from Mommy.

Shelby dropped off my groceries on her way home, which I didn’t expect today really. Most important item: Coffee! (high-test; I’d been down to decaf only). I made a nice hot cup and then came to the computer to check Middle East news, FB and email. And to write this report.

Tomorrow I go back to McLeod for the Neulasta shot at 2:00. Except for being tired, I feel pretty much okay tonight, but remembering the insomnia I had last time, I’ll take preemptive Tylenol and Benadryl at bedtime.

More later, about blood work needing prayer in several areas, an echocardiogram which is a little bit worrisome and will bear watching in several areas, and the most important – a tremendous financial blessing that will cover the cost of Emend for me for the entire length of chemotherapy!

God’s ears are open (and receptive) to the prayers of his people (Ps. 34:15, I Pet. 3:12, I John 5:14-15). His eyes roam to and fro throughout the earth to show himself strong on their behalf (II Chron. 16:9).

Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. (I John 4:4)!


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Bette’s Journal

Bette Cox 2010

Christ is the "Big C" in my life!

That was told to me by a good friend recently, and it's so very true.

Jesus says in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

I believe Jesus. I hope you do too.

I have one request of other believers reading this journal:

Agree with me that the invader will shrink, shrivel, die and disappear from my body, whatever method the Lord uses to accomplish that.

Thanks in advance.


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