I had chemotherapy again on Friday, January 6. As usual, Geoff came with me, but this time two old friends visited as well... somewhat to the chagrin of my otherwise cheerful nurse. We are really only to have one person accompanying us to our chemotherapy treatment. I suppose that keeps the noise down for everyone else.
This session, I just received the Taxol, along with the drugs that are given with it. One is a steroid and another is Benedryl. The Benedryl is given right before the Taxol. The result is that I get really sleepy pretty quickly. I always bring books and puzzles to while away the time during chemo, but every time, I end up getting drowsy or falling completely to sleep and if you would believe it, later on, I get drowsy at home trying to re-read the same part of the book or trying to do the same puzzle. Very frustrating. I would think that this doesn't make me a very interesting person to visit, but my old friends didn't seem to mind -- as far as I could tell through my droopy eyelids.
All those drugs are given through the PICC line, which is convenient enough, except that it can interfere with my pain pump delivery. During certain IV treatments, I have to disconnect the pain pump. Given that I'm spending that time sitting quietly on a bed, it's not generally a problem that I'm not getting my pain medication. But with all the saline they pump into me, I do generally have to make a couple of trips to the bathroom down the hall. With luck, I can reconnect the pain pump and give myself a shot before dragging my bad leg down off the bed and down the hall. If you're curious, I don't use the walker for these trips. I have to bring the IV stack, as it's still infusing medication as I head to the bathroom. So I just unplug the IV power pack from the wall and put my weight on the pole to make it to the bathroom and back. Haven't had any trouble so far; I just don't look very graceful.
Friday's chemo session started at noon, so I had some lunch there in the hospital bed. I packed a light lunch of celery and peanut butter, crackers and clementines, with a cup of milk. And a cookie too; it's Christmas. I've been choosing the hospital bed over the chairs for chemo lately. I like being able to change positions easily in the chair. Plus they have convenient tables on either side for your stuff. But with the swollen ankles I've got, I figure I am better off in the bed, where I can keep my feet up higher in the hope the swelling will lessen.
So, Friday's session was pretty routine at the hospital; the only change being my extra guests. I wasn't as tired as last week, but I was unsure how I would feel in the evening. We were invited to attend a friend's bonfire that night. It sounded like a lot of fun, but I wasn't sure how accessible it would be for me in my current physical state and I wondered if I'd be exhausted like after the previous week's chemo. So I let Geoff and Lena go with one of Lena's friends and I stayed on the couch at home. Just as well. I ended up with stomach cramps just after they left. Nothing too bad or too long lasting, but I was uncomfortable for about a half an hour. Geoff later assured me that the layout of his friend's bonfire would have been easy for me to access, so I hope to be able to attend the next one.
Overnight, I had more problems. I woke up feeling hungry, I thought, but not quite wanting to eat. And I'm not "authorised" to go down the stairs alone, so I just lay there in bed hoping the discomfort would pass. It didn't really. It became more of a stomach ache, even nausea. I didn't like it a bit.
Eventually morning came and I took the Zofran pill the doctor recommended. Zofran is one of the anti-nausea pills that is available to chemo patients. My doctor had cut my dose from one or two for each of the five days from the start of chemo to only taking one dose the day of chemo and the following day. My doctors tend to be of the "if you need it, take it; if you don't need it, don't" school. As a result, and hoping for a better night, before going to bed Saturday I took another Zofran and I brought upstairs my bottle of Stematil, another anti-nausea medication that I'm prescribed on an as needed basis. It turns out I didn't need the Stematil overnight, but I'm glad I had it at hand. All I had was my usual sore back by 5am. It's not easy to find 8-plus hours of comfortable sleep positions when you have a broken pelvis and several broken vertabrea.
Awareness note: In addition to the Stematil pills that are prescribed to chemo patients, we are also given vials of injectable Stematil which we can call the community/home-care nurses to come and inject anytime if we find we can't keep anything down. It really is comforting to know that the system is working to take care of us from all these angles, day and night.