So today, I spent 7 hours at the chemo "spa". My dear friend Deborah who shares my diagnosis of Triple-Negative breast cancer and has the same protocols as me, calls her infusion room the "spa". So Deborah, mon amie, I'm stealing your name for "that place".
I arrived at 8h30am yesterday, signed in and was met by Daiquiri (yes, that's her real name - like the drink). I was weighed and my temperature was taken. She led me into the exam room where she then checked my blood pressure, took my pulse and asked me about all of the pills I am currently taking: L glutamine, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, B6, Probiotics, Lexapro daily, and then there are the anti-nausea meds for the 3 days after chemo: Kytril, Decadron and Phenergan in case of emergencies. There are also pain killers like hydracodone if needed. Now mind you, I hate taking pills!! My favorite nurse, Candi, usually then accesses my port-a-cath with a needle, draws blood, and hooks me up to go into the infusion room. However today, Candi was unavailable and I had another nurse. Before I even leave the house in the morning for my appointment, Evan treats my port site with a numbing cream and then tapes a cover of saran wrap on it keep keep it clean and warm. By the time Candi accesses the site, it's numb and pain free. In 4 treatments, it has NEVER hurt! However today, new nurse made a big deal about pressing on the port (my little alien), cleaned it profusely and then jabbed the needle in crooked. It hurt, oh yes it did! The Rock Star, Dr H then comes in to discuss my past 2 weeks since I last saw her, answers all of my questions and tells me new stuff....then, it's off to the "spa".
Today, I had to choose a recliner near the nurse's station as I was starting the second part of treatment, a drug called Taxol. My days of the dreaded A/C are over. I now have 4 rounds of Taxol, once every 2 weeks for 8 weeks. Taxol is made from the branches of the yew tree and can have severe allergic reactions in some people. The first round is done very slowly. First, I set up my "spa" site...I removed my shoes and put on my cozy socks, I got out my blankets, had my reading material, cell phone and computer at hand. I had my lunch and drinks ready. Evan set up his work table next to me. The nurse explained the new drug and the possible anaphylactic shock-allergic reactions they would watch for...great...At 10am, the infusion began - an IV line attached to my port-a-cath. The port is about the size of a quarter and is a plastic stopper that was surgically inserted in January before I started chemo. It is under the skin just below my right collar bone. It is painless and since I am boney, you can see it clearly. So today the infusion began with a double dose of benedryl to combat allergies followed by a dose a anti-nausea Decadron. Then they start the Taxol drip - the first one is very slow. They watched for every reaction. After about an hour, I started to have severe hot flashes. The taxol both fights bad cells and rebuilds white blood cells. It's a foreign substance entering my body, so my system spikes a fever. The body accepts it, the fever breaks and then I have chills. This happened every 15-20 minutes and it even woke me up. I slept, I dozed, I read nothing. The nurse stopped the infusion and let me recover but then dripped in it more slowly. So from 10am to 3h30pm, I sat in my very elegant naugahyde chaise lounge and was infused. Thank goodness, I didn't have any itching, flushed face, intense back ache, heart palpitations and heaviness in the chest or difficulty breathing. I am scared to death that my finger nails or toe nails may fall off by treatment #7. I can do chic/bald but missing finger nails creep me out!
Anyway, home by 4pm...spa day my ass! So where was my pedicure? my manicure? my mud wrap? my hot stone massage? Maybe next time...