My first day of chemo. I’m smiling because that’s saline dripping from the bag. Saline = good.
Can’t beat that view, can you?
The visitor’s chair was occupied briefly by the LOVELIEST volunteer ever! She was a breast cancer survivor and cheery as all get out. Presenting me with several freebies (a neck pillow, a heart-shaped pillow to cushion my port from the passenger-side seatbelt, a crocheted cap, brochures for scarves and free cosmetics makeovers and wigs), she brightened my day.
The bubbly nurse gave me a tour of the cubicle and its amenities.
TV, DVD player, magazines, semi-privacy curtain that’s rigged to close more completely with a Bible weight.
TV Remote / Emergency Call
The TV Remote / Emergency Call device came with explicit instructions.
The Red Button was NOT the same as a hospital nurse call button. Here, you push it only if you are in a true emergency situation: bleeding, difficulty breathing, chest pains.
If you want an extra blanket, just wait for a nurse or volunteer to walk by. You won’t be waiting long.
My neighbor on the other side of the curtain had a bullfrog voice. Remember “Our Gang’s” Froggy? Sounded like him all grown up.
I didn’t mind his choice of TV programs (“Andy Griffith” and “Gunsmoke”), but they were kinda loud.
NOTE TO SELF
Bring headphones next time.
The Good Before the Bad
After the saline, which they gave to determine if the port was working properly, I received a bag of anti-nausea meds. DOUBLE-YAY. This took 20-25 minutes.
The Red Devil
Next came the Adriamycin, aka “Red Devil.” It’s a concoction nick-named “Red” for its color (!) and “Devil” for its nasty side effects.
I can attest that it did change my urine to a cherry orange punch color, but that subsided. Small potatoes compared to the other possibilities.
Chemo Brain, another delightful prospect, is a difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, trouble multi-tasking, slower thought processing, and difficulty finding words at times. Sometimes this is temporary, but sometimes it’s long-lasting. Not appealing at all. I could always depend on my brain. If it deteriorates, I fear the essence of me will, too.
Quality of Life
If any of these side effects proves too much to bear, I will discuss other options with the oncologist. Don’t know what these will be — reduction in dosage or switching to other drugs — but this is the quality of life issue I’m ferocious about. I’m going out as me, not as a shell of me.
They can take my self determination when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.
Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) was administered next. Lasted only 20 minutes. I felt a slight tingling in my sinuses. Nothing bothersome.
Last came Taxotere. The possible side effects of this one were: face flushing, back pain, shortness of breath.
These qualified as “red button issues.” If I experienced any of these, they would stop the infusion immediately.
Luckily, these passed over!
All in all, a very good day.