Fasten Your Seatbelts! Turbulence Ahead!

Air Cancer Flight 102 embarked on its new schedule during January: three chemo-therapy sessions, one week apart, followed by a week off was the posted schedule. Because there would only be one poison drug administered, together with the usual boat-load of steroids, I was told that the flights sessions would be much shorter.

So, yours truly fastened her seatbelt on Wednesday, January 25, for session one, and, sure enough, we were out of there after less than two hours. The usual cadre of Infusion Suite Nurse Angels (N.A.’s) was on hand. Those who didn’t know about my Alien lymph-node and new-tissue growth and who hadn’t heard that I’d be back were surprised to see me, but all greeted me warmly. It was a wonderful reunion!

Reunion of Infusion Suite Nurse Angels

Having received the usual pre-chemo “education” about the possible side effects of our new drug-of-choice, Gemzar, we went home with our antenna in the “up” position, prepared to deal with whatever aches, pains, nausea, vomiting, fevers, etc. came our way.

On Wednesday evening, post-chemo, sleep escaped us, as usual, due to the euphoric effects of the Dexamethasone racing through our blood stream like a world-class cyclist zooming down the Champs Elysées toward the finish line.

Thursday morning, after a brief cat nap, we did a full-body assessment to check for side effects. Nothing.  Friday: nothing. Saturday: nothing. We began to panic, expecting that the side effects would hit us with a triple whammy and lay us low worse than ever before! By Saturday evening, when nothing untoward had happened, confusion had set in.

Now, mind you, when I say “no” side effects, I’m leaving out one: after the doping steroids wore off, I was sleeping pretty much around the clock. Our daily routine went something like this: 7 AM – wake up, potty, breakfast, computer. 8 AM – nap. 10 AM – wake up, potty, computer, lunch. 12 Noon – nap. 2 PM – wake up, shower, take garbage out, quick trip to grocery store, computer. 4 PM – nap. You get the picture….

In any case, believe me, it’s not that we wanted to have side effects; however, this total lack of side effects aside from sleeping like Methuselah was bizarre, compared with the side effects from our prior chemo pois er, drugs of choice, Taxol and Carboplatin. Long-story short, during that entire week, there were no painful or unsettling side effects, whatsoever! Our growing lymph node and Alien new umbilical tissue continued to be aggravating, but that was about it.

At our pre-chemo visit with Wonder Doc, we recounted this tale. “It was a piece of cake, Doc!” He smiled a knowing smile and showed us the results of our complete blood count (CBC), which is one of the post-chemo blood tests done each time. Among other things, our white blood cell (WBC) a.k.a. leukocyte and neutrophil counts had dropped.

<<– Pic of one of our little neutrophils. Isn’t it cute?!? 

“What these lowered counts mean,” W.D. explained, “is that you’re at greater risk for infection. So, no hugging, no kissing, no intimate contact with anyone that has an infectious disease, no group meetings, no church, no contact with snakes/lizards/turtles, no pitching hay, no rolling in leaves, and no spelunking.  Also, you can’t drink unpasteurized milk and you can’t eat raw seafood. Other than that, you can carry on your usual routine, and we’ll check your WBC again next week! Any questions?”

I, of course, reacted with my usual calm, cool demeanor and headed off toward chemo-land for Week Two of Gemzar.  After insertion of the usual ginormous needle in my itsy-bitsy, delicate vein by one of the Nurses Carrie/Carei (remember, among the Nurse Angels there are two hot blondes who share the same name), I contemplated my life with no hugs from my grandchildren and no spelunking.  I was prepared to  sacrifice unpasteurized milk and raw seafood with only a few pangs of regret, but … no spelunking?!? Nothing had prepared me for this!  I felt myself slipping into a deep, blue funk….

After the Gemzar had drip-drip-dripped its evil self into my veins, my N.A.  instructed me to call in the morning to see if I would be receiving Week Three of Gemzar.  When I made the call, Carrie answered.  I identified myself and asked her if I should come in, with which she exploded into raucous laughter.

“Do you know what your WBC is?!?!”

“Um, no. That’s why I’m calling….”

Hah! We’ve got it down to 1.5! That’ll teach you! Well, it’s down to 1.5. No chemo for you this week. Just come in for labs again next Tuesday. Ok?”

So, with a heavy heart, I was relegated to No-Chemo-Land for the following week, and I went about my usual routine, taking extra care to avoid hugging my grandchildren, spelunking, and drinking unpasteurized milk.  By lab time the next week, my spunky WBC’s had regenerated to a whopping 3.8 and I was deemed prepared for take-off again the next day.

Gemzar infusion took place again last week and again, no side effects except for sleeping 16 hours out of 24 some days. We actually felt better this week than we have in a long time! There were 5 days out of 7 when we could say that we felt … good! (We’d almost forgotten what that feels like!)

Yesterday, we presented ourselves for pre-chemo blood work and we were greeted by N.A. Ann. Have I mentioned Ann before? Perhaps not. Ann’s a cute, l’il transplant from Texas who joined the Infusion Suite Gang about mid-way through the Taxol-Carboplatin regime. In addition to sharing the one-stick-wonder skills of the Carrie/Careis, Ann spends enormous amounts of money on earrings, and she loves to laugh. She has a evil and demonic  wonderful sense of humor!

Yesterday, Ann was elected to draw my pre-chemo blood and greeted me warmly at the door: “Come on in! I have a needle with your name on it!”

Ah, yes. The true spirit of Martin Memorial Health Systems shines through at the Robert and Carol Weissman Cancer Center. There truly is Hope and a giant needle at Every Turn!

This entry was posted in Air Cancer, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Health, Humor, Medical System and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Fasten Your Seatbelts! Turbulence Ahead!

  1. Lynne Favreau says:

    Woohoo! What no Neulasta? Sounds like things are moving along swimmingly. Thanks for the jocular update. I’m two sessions in to PT for the knee and RA. Been riding my stationary bike at least 30 mins a day for a month. Finally feeling my strength and stamina returning—boy have I missed them. XOX

    • cwc6161 says:

      Nah, neither Neulasta nor Neupogen (its baby brother) for now…. But, damn it, I got turned down again for chemo yesterday. The rebellious ol’ WBC’s dropped back down to 2.0. Had a great discussion with WD, though. After he sees next week’s results I’ll probably end up on a 1 week chemo/1 week no chemo schedule. I asked him if the tissue-growth might be hormone-related, as I’d been reading about hormone-driven tumors. He says it might be worth looking into, although — would you believe? Even today there is NO test for that?!?! Too bad you and I aren’t science geeks; we could make bazillions of $$! lol…. SO glad to hear about your continuing recovery! Strength and stamina, as I recall, are wonderful things, indeed 🙂 xoxoxo

  2. Archon's Den says:

    I’ve sent you a great big, warm, blogosphere hug. I was careful to don rubber gloves and a face-mask before I did so. Hugely amusing post. I’m catching on to that crossing-out trick. Yours provided such great humor/reality juxtaposition. Just dropped another load of verbosity tonight, but I’ll have to “fairly promptly” do one for the V.B. award you sent my way.

    • cwc6161 says:

      Woo-hoo! Blogosphere hugs are da best! Thanks, Arch 🙂 Thanks for following Health Regulation 2012-C-895.0132.9, too, re: rubber gloves and face-masks! I hope you’ve avoided spelunking, as well….
      Yeah, I must say I like love the crossing-out thingie. Have to monitor myself so I don’t over use it. lol… I’m always glad to hear from you and I’m looking forward to your VB award post!

  3. Candice I admire your honesty and openness and sheer bravery. Since being on Face Book I have come across many who suffer or have suffered one deep pain or another. All have my admiration and respect but you I have become to know, therefore yours, cuts the deeper. Travel well my friend with continued strength.

    • cwc6161 says:

      Aw, Danny, thank you so very much for your concern and well wishes. As long as my “Captain Wonder Doc” still is on board, my flight should be smooth. Again, thanks for your well-wishes!

  4. As usual KH, You confront your flight with humor and good grace. Happy landings.

  5. Julie Farrar says:

    I can’t believe you wrote such a wonderfully witty and detailed post amidst all of this! My recovery from surgery made me even want to skip the going to the potty part of my day and just be a lump on the couch for the next ten years. I’m so glad this round has worked so well. Sending prayers.

    • cwc6161 says:

      Oh, my dear, surgery is a whole, different ball-game! Believe you me, this chemo thing is much easier than my recovery from surgery was last year. Thanks so much for your prayers and well-wishes. They mean a lot and they DO work!

  6. You fail to mention that even with all the extra sleep you got, you’re still on deficit from the decade 2001-2011. So I am waaaay glad the nasty poi- I mean, meds knocked you on your butt for a while. Maybe you needed some rest! Hope to see you Thursday (don’t read this, Dr. McDreamy)

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