Monday, February 7, 2011

Chemo 1 or Stage 4 lung cancer and it's the maple syrup that does me in!

So at my first round of chemo I was WAY more nervous than I led on. It snowed 19 inches. My parents had to dig their way out to get to my house to pick us up. John had to shovel and our wonderful friend Lenny came by (without asking him) at the crack of dawn to help. Without him I'd have never made it to chemo.

And I just lay in bed not knowing any of this is going on in my own little I have cancer, poor me, wah, wah, wah world. While everyone is moving heaven and earth to get my sorry ass to chemo.

We get there and there's a delay because the pharmacists aren't in yet. So we sat for an hour. I had juice and Sloan pretzels (every Sloan office no matter where it is, has the same brand of pretzels. I eat them every time because I'm convinced they cure cancer. I've been convinced of this for years, since I went to Sloan for my breast cancer screenings.) And then they call me in, they tell me they have a bed for me, which I inexplicable refuse (I think I thought sitting up would be more amenable to playing cards) and my family was so confused.

They sit me down and start looking for veins. The nurse was sad for me at the state of my arms because of my horrifying PE cat scan experience. And then she starts searching my hands. My hand veins SUCK! So I knew there'd be trouble. Well she sticks me and bam. My head goes weird and I can't hear. And then I go down. My poor family, I honestly could not put them thru more if I was trying to.

I wake up to nervous nurses. John is telling them it's happened to me before and I hear the words vasal vagal syncope. My old nemesis. I was so sure I'd slayed him. But he's back with avengence. But the nurses were still freaked and I said to myself why, vasal vagal is nothing. Just annoying. And then I remembered, the brain tumors. Oh right, those things. So once they established it wasn't a true seizure, we walked to the bed. Which for the record was an awesome room.

Nurse tried again and my other vein blew. Then they brought in another nurse (they are all lovely by the way) and she starts teasing me. "Is this your first treatment?" "yup!" "Ok you're forgiven, but from this point on no more shenanigans!" And then she blew another vein. Then they brought in this little nurse Caroline. John says "are you the Mariano Rivera of veins?" She just laughed, "am I a closer? I don't know? I've never thought of myself that way". She got it in. The best part of the day was, I never wanted to flee. And no one had any intention of giving up.

So I got my chemo. Chemo is different depending on the kind you get. Mine is aggressive and can destroy your kidneys (and for the record is frying my reproductive system, which is fine by me, except for the hot flashes, nothing like feeling your head is on fire). So to protect my kidneys I need to spend 6 hours hydrating them. So I stay at chemo for 6 hours. All 6 I'm hooked up to saline. 10 minute is spent on 1 chemo and 1 hour is spent on the reproductive system/kidney frying one. They also pump you with anti-nausea meds. Plus you have pills you have to take too, steroids and anti-nausea. Chemo nurses' job, in addition to fighting for your life and is to help you deal with the chemo itself. They arm you to the teeth with everything you need to keep your health and sanity. They are a special breed and should be worshipped like celebrities.

6 days later I had to head into the city for a pre-op to get a mediport put in. My veins are done and I will not get through chemo without it. So I wake up and my mom is making buckwheat pancakes and asks me to get the maple syrup out of the fridge. It's on the bottom shelf. So I bend down to get it and when I get up my head goes wonky and my hearing goes. Just like chemo. Not good. I get to the couch. I manage to eat breakfast. But when I stand up, after about 5 minutes my heart races, my head goes light and I'm done. I attempt to take a shower, no dice. Can't stay upright.

John gets home to take me to my apt. I can't even sit up at this point. The onc wants me in the office, this isn't a normal chemo reaction. So we work out way in to the city. It's vasal vagal. Ugh. My blood pressure is different sitting down than it is standing up. It's my nemesis again AND turns out the chemo is aggrevating it. Great. So now I can't take hot showers. I have to SLOWLY change posititions and the bottom of the fridge is out of the question. Now I can't be alone. Because my onc has a man in his practice who has this and constantly falls down, they don't want me falling. So now I get chaperoned like a mental patient.

While at Kohl's looking for a shoe size I hear "Vin, Vin! I can't find Jaime!" Because I forgot to poke my head up like a prairie dog. And the woman in the aisle with me is looking at me like, I wonder what her problem is she seems so high functioning!

But all this pushed my port apts back. Which isn't cool. So I have yet to have it installed and there's a risk it won't be ready for chemo 2. So I might have to pass out again. Fun. But I won't flee I promise! ;)


  1. The nurses at SK really are amazing. My wife tells me to say thank you for acknowledging them. Nurses in general have such a thankless job.

    You're in the best possible hands, Jaime. And more importantly, you're ready to FIGHT!

    Now, go out there and kick this bastard cancer's ass!

  2. Jaime, you are just assuring me that I'm picking the right profession. Nurses are the best!