Thursday, February 17, 2011

chemo and the bootleg

So this morning was chemo round two. Bright and early, left at 7:15. Got up at 5 (just cause I did). Did my morning meditation in the dark cause Sophia was still sleeping, that was nice actually. Re-packed my chemo bag, had a bagel and locks and we were off.

Today's t-shirt: Chemo! Breakfast of Champions.

The lab techs loved it.

So I see the doc, he thinks I look good but very "rashy" so he makes me an appointment with the chemo dermatologist. I wonder if they give chemo facials?

He also says my first scan will be in just over two weeks. So I'll have another Brain MRI and Cat Scan (whew, no pet scan). And we'll see how I'm responding. And then he says that the Brain MRI is to see that we can keep holding off on brain radiation. That's the first time he's said radiation in way that it's likely. Before it sounded more like an option. That was a touch jarring, only cause there was a "you know, if the chemo doesn't work" feel to it...

But he was super happy, esp. now that Tarceva (my new medication) is in the mix. This news has made my team very upbeat. I like that. It's a quick visit and I am on my way to the chemo suite.

I get my old room and I hop into bed. I'm not stupid, this time I'm taking the bed plus I'm mad sleepy this week. So the nurse, Maureen, comes in, I've met her before, she's lovely. She is jazzed about my port. She talks me through the steps, which sounds long, but most of it was actually just cleaning up the site (I had lots of sticky goo from the bandages).

Then the needle goes in. I have to brace myself against the bed (not held down, I just have to have my back against something, I can't just sit up). So I hold position, take a deep breath and snap. It's in. It feels like a thumb tack going in and pain gone. I feel nothing. I fussed for that. What a loser!

Maureen is like, can I make you the poster girl for ports? Everyone fights this thing and I can't stress how super, duper awesome it is. I was like um, yeah. That was nothing!

So I'm immediately hooked up to the first bag of Saline. That's three hours of lubing up the kidneys. Over the next six hours they'll monitor all liquids in and out. I was really bad at the "how much did I pee game" today, I was off by at least 50 ccs every time. I was so much better during round 1. I was nailing it left and right.

So I decided we would watch The King's Speech (someone, who's identity I shall protect, had an Oscar copy that they lent us). I wasn't jazzed about seeing it, but I do like the actors in it so what the hell. Well I really liked it. I do think it would have been better had we not had to pause it 1000 times for the fluid in-take/output procedures. I also got my 10 minute chemo while I watched it.

I see what they mean by it's a small film. Small in the sense that it has a limited focus, few characters and it's intimate. Just the kind of film I like and it was witty. Great writing and it wasn't over dramatized. The trailers give it a sweeping feeling that I didn't really sense from the film itself. It was just an enjoyable, well acted film. I liked it. And I was able to follow it, that was nice. My chemo brain ADD was able to focus on it. Though the constant pausing did help.

Then saline bag #2 is hooked up which means, 1 hour chemo is imminent. So one bag of anti-nausea goes up, then the diuretic, (they are little 5 minute bags of IV) because chemo nurses love making you pee. I think they enjoy watching us all dance in front of the bathroom door waiting for each other to measure and leave. It must be hilarious.

Then I take pills to prepare, a mega-dose of steroids (3 times my normal dose, this makes me crazy hungry, if my mom falls asleep she will be in danger of being eaten) and then a pill anti-nausea pack. And then the Cisplatin is hooked up. When you get a chemo drug two nurses have to come in, they have to verify it's you and you have to give your birth date.

Maureen is very excited to tell me that she and I share a birthday. Of course hers is at least 10 years after mine, everyone is younger than me at this hospital, except for like 2 nurses. The one with the nose ring (who I have a major girl crush on, she's the one I passed out on, I don't think those two things are related however, then again...) and the nurse I only saw once who hydrated me on my maple syrup day. But like I said, it's not like this age thing bothers me or anything...

And Maureen had just seen The King's Speech so we were talking about it all and she had that sweet youthful, "wow was it really THAT scandalous" to which my parents erupted with "yes!" and then felt the need to point out that they didn't actually live through it. The age thing might be getting to them too!

I was crazy sleepy so I just curled up in a ball while everyone watched TV. Maureen and John get me a nice toasty blanket and I snagged a nap. Have I told you how much I love chemo nurses. They just care for you.

Six hours up and I'm all done. All my appointments are set up, next week dermatologist and second week of March are my scans and chemo 3. Maureen comes to unhook me, thumb tack pull and done. One measly bandaid! We high five our upcoming birthday and I'm off.

The one thing I can never remember to do when I get home is flush twice. Apparently my pee is lethal right now. The only thing I can't understand is how has this not worked it's way into a CSI Miami episode yet? David Caruso, putting his sunglasses on, "Someone pissed off the wrong person".

Well I don't know about you but I'm curious how wickedly weird these posts will get now that I'll be in the height of chemo brain.

Oh and as a side note, we got the explanation of benefits (not bill) from chemo 1 and it listed the price of the meds. The 1 hour chemo, Cisplatin, the one they call "platinum class", the one that is FRYING my reproductive system, boiling my kidneys, attacking my ear drums (which has been really minor, why I never mentioned it before), etc... Costs 98 bucks. That's it.

The 10 minute chemo, Pemetrexed. The one that causes a slight non-itch red blotch. COSTS 9600 DOLLARS!!!! I can actually say I've spent 10,000 bucks in 10 minutes. TWICE!

How crazy is that?


  1. OMG that's a lot of $$$! Please tell me your insurance is covering it!?

  2. I'm pretty sure it is, should just be a co-pay. But I haven't gotten a bill yet, so...

    I don't want to tempt fate, so I'm being deliberately non-commital. ;)