Here I sit in the Cancer Infusion Center writing this post. I’m really glad I can bring my laptop with me to mitigate the boredom.
I’m finishing my first round of three treatments on consecutive days; and then I’ll have a couple of pills to take at home tomorrow after breakfast.
The first day, Wednesday, started with drawing some blood in the lab. The young woman in the lab was really good at her job, and I didn’t even feel the needle going in. I have no end of respect for real expertise.
Each first treatment in a session, I was told, would be giving me two drugs, the first taking about half an hour to drip, and the second about an hour; but they gave me more than that. After inserting the IV (in an awkward spot on the back of my hand because the nurse couldn’t find a better vein), there was some flushing of the IV with saline solution, then rather a lot of some milky solution administered with a syringe that took maybe about five minutes. Then more flushing of the IV, the two drugs that I was told about, and more flushing.
I wound up being stuck there in the hospital for about four hours with basically nothing to do, mostly waiting for the lab results to come back before they could start on the real business. I hadn’t had any lunch that day in the hope of mitigating the nausea that’s sometimes a side effect of chemo; but I learned too late that it doesn’t show up until at least the day following, so I needn’t have skipped it. I stopped by a Waffle House on the way home to have a big second breakfast for supper and I wasn’t able to watch the Cardinals’ game until the top of the third.
I don’t watch enough TV for cable to make sense, so I watch the games on mlb.com’s Gameday feature and listen on the radio. (I confess to watching Baseball Night in America on Fox because of their monopoly, but I stay away from anything Murdoch otherwise.)
Yesterday was quicker. I had been told that I’d get just the one drug that takes about an hour to drip (I get that one on each of the three days); but what with administrivia, inserting the IV, all the flushing, and yet another drug that I hadn’t been told about, I was there for a couple of hours. Fortunately, I had thought to ask whether it would be OK to bring my computer with me so that I’d have something to do. They said that that would be just fine, so I was able to spend the time writing yesterday’s post.
Today should be a repeat of yesterday, except that the nurse had found a really good vein in a good position and could tape up the IV really well after the treatments, so I was able to keep the IV in overnight, and I didn’t need to get stuck again today. Also, the first extra drug only took about five or so minutes and was administered by syringe, so I’ll have only about one hour of dripping which started at 15:15. I can hope to be out of here by 16:30, give or take.
I probably won’t have anything more to say about this first round unless something bad happens. So far, I’ve had none of the usual side effects of chemo, not even a wee bit of nausea or diarrhea, and I currently have no reason to expect it to start. (I am having frequent hiccups that started around quarter to four this morning. That’s not listed as a side effect in the blurbs I was given about the drugs I’m getting; but I found a paper about hiccups on (IIRC) nih.gov (I can’t remember the URL and wouldn’t be competent to critique it in any event) which mentions in a table of side effects that hiccups is a possible result of taking of chemo drugs, but it’s probably not a problem unless it continues for several days. I’m not having that side effect as I write this.)
I’ll have three more rounds of three treatments on consecutive days, probably Wednesdays through Fridays. I have an appointment with the chemo doctor next Wednesday where we’ll set up the schedules for the final three rounds; and I’m going to express a really strong preference to begin earlier in the day so that I can get home at a reasonable hour. It’s already known that my trip to Hawaiʻi will interrupt the sequence such that I’ll have two or three extra weeks after the penultimate round. The doctor has said that he’s not particularly worried about that, but he’ll want more lab tests after I get back just to make sure that everything is still in order.
So far, I’ve been tremendously fortunate. The cancer was caught in an early stage before it had metastasized to the lymph nodes (which I’m told is unusual for small cell cancer), so there was no big deal about my refusing major thoracic surgery (which I would have refused at my age in any event), and I’ve had no symptoms that I’m aware of (aside from the hiccups that I mentioned above) from any treatment or from the cancer itself. We’ll see whether that continues…