Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hospital Stay and Chemotherapy #1A

"People are like stained glass. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within" Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

I will start off with this quote on a card from a beautiful colleague. While you hid in the anonymity of secret bunny. I know who you are. Thank you.

  Let me start off by saying that this blog while a great way to update our friends and family on my kicking Hodgkin a$$, I would say that it is more for me to journal and keep track of each day. Days become mixed together and blurry when you try and look back. This is particularly helpful when it seems like everyone new nurse, doctor or clinic I am asked to review and timeline how I got to where I am today. So that being said, feel free to read, comment which I would love to hear who is reading this, but there will be posts that are lengthy and I know you are all busy and I am trying to share without it being "too much information", I know you are busy and have full lives, as we do

I was admitted to the 6th floor Oncology unit at Grand River Hospital Thursday night, not because I was sick and need to be hospitalized but that was the quickest and most efficient way to get my first chemo treatment started. I also need one more test completed and this was faster accomplished as an in-patient. I went through the whole admission process and then I was pretty much on my own, an easy patient considering all the very sick people who unfortunately filled the 6th floor. I marvel at the nurses, they literally don't stop and it is a job that I am thankful there are so many caring individuals who choose this profession!! When I tell them that I am a Special Education Teacher, they comment, "I don't know how you do that". Well I say the same for the nurses and other staff in the hospitals and cancer clinics. I wouldn't say my sleep was all that restful with lights on, people talking and a very sick patient next to me but I did manage to sleep a bit.

I was awoken at 6:30 am to have bloodwork done, good morning! I then lounged in bed, waiting as I knew I was being taken sometime "first thing in the morning" for a CT scan of my abdomen. I guess they needed this done to make absolute sure there aren't cancer cells anywhere in that area even though I already had the gallium scan. I waited and dozed off until around 8:00 am. The nurse was looking into when this would be happening because I couldn't eat until after it was done. Glitch happened in that someone when they entered the request order said I was an out-patient not an in-patient so the CT clinic was waiting for me to show up. Not going to happen. Oops. So around 9:30 I was brought two huge water bottles to drink, some concoxtion of iodine and water. Didn't taste too bad, I had to drink one whole bottle between 9:40-10:00 then another bottle at 10:10. I was taken around 10:30 for the test which was uneventful. I am getting pretty good at laying with my arms over my head, not moving for long periods of time.

My IV was started prior to the CT scan to get me ready for my chemo treatment. The nurse had a bit of trouble finding a vein. After three rounds of bloodwork in two days, it was a bit tricky. She mentioned that I may end up being a candidate for a Port-o-cath, which is a permanent spot where they can hook you up to take blood and give IV chemo. She managed to find a vein in the crook of my right elbow. I ate some breakfast and Jason brought me a coffee from Tim Horton's (Thanks Secret Bunny) Yes, I asked about coffee, no problems if I want to have a coffee in the morning. Coffee is one thing in my day that makes me pretty happy. Debra was my nurse for the day, a lovely lady. She explained and answered so many of our questions, even though I know how incredibly busy she was. I also learned that chemo is quite a process.

First I had two bags of anti-nausea medication drip down into my IV. Then Debra comes all geared up, full gown, gloves, two masks and special waste disposal that everyone in contact with me goes straight into. The first medication of ABVD therapy was Bleomycin.  This drug is "pushed" through the IV by the nurse, takes about 5-10 minutes. The next drug given was a red drug in appearance Doxorubicin. This will make your urine appear red. Fun! This was also given my injection. Next I had a bag of Benadryl drip through which took a good 15-20 minutes. This made me a bit sleepy. Normally when I am an out-patient, I will be told to take Benadryl at home before I come. Next was the third drug that is pushed through was Vinblastine. Then I had a bag of Saline solution drip for a little while and had a bit of break, where I had a short snooze. Jason sat and read and played video games, chatted with me through all this. It was so nice to have his company. The last medication was Decarbazine which is in a bag that drips through the IV, it takes about 60-90 minutes. At first, I had alot of pain all up and down my arm that the IV was in. She stopped it, ran some more saline through injection and then slowed down the drip it helped a little. Still very painful and achy almost like I had put my arm in something really cold. She wrapped my arm in a warm blanket and that helped. I chatted with Jason, texted friends and tried to read a magazine, hard when I couldn't bend my arm. All in all, the chemo started at 12:00 and ended around 4:00, I should expect it to be a bit faster as an outpatient. Soon after that I was discharged with my medications to take at home.

I have three medications to take at home. I take Ondansetron twice a day for 3 days as an anti-nausea prevention drug. Then Allopurinol which is once a day for 21 days, this helps flush the toxins out of my system and help my kidneys process the medications. I need to drinks lots and lots of water and clear fluids all the time. The last medication is Prochlorazine which I can take up to 4 times a day for the more severe nausea. I have only had to take this once so far. I am also allowed to take Gravol which isn't quite as strong. I have Tylenol which I can take for pain or fever. I haven't had any fever issues yet and did take some Tylenol for very achy legs, that I had last night.

I will explain more of my reactions and lovely side effects post-chemo in the next post. Thankfully, they have been very minor and I so far on Day 2 can say Michelle 1 Hodgkins 0. Take that cancer!!!

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