Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spinal Tap Day

Easy breezy...kind of.

I showed up at about 9:15 for my appointment today and was not called in until about 10am - I expected a small wait because I knew that Dr. Hamm was squeezing me in. The nurse came and got me and led me through the chemo treatment area...umm...wow...was a little shocked. I had been through two other times and it was kind of empty...this time, every bed i saw was full. That is 15 beds on the one side, and I don't know how many on the other side. It was weird walking through there...Am I one of them? I don't feel like it...ug. I'm not a patient. It kind of freaked me out... I found myself avoiding their eyes and trying to walk confidently through there. I am not a victim nor will I be a patient. I think I discovered that I have a lot to learn about how to mentally handle this. But, with all the support that I have, I know I'll be fine.

The nurse took me to a room right beside the nurse station and I learned right away that I was to begin with some drug treatments - so I guess, technically, I started Chemo today...I was surprised at this and a taken a back a little. But I guess it's like ripping off a band aid...The drug is called Cytarabine Intrathecal (cytosar).

I was still sore from my port-a-cath surgery today and I wanted to wait until I spoke with the doctor before I took any pain meds. So my first question for the nurse was if i could take a T3 to alleviate the pain of the surgery (I was also thinking it might help with the spinal tap about to take place).

Dr. Hamm came in and we started the process...I took off my shirt and laid down on my left side and pulled down my pants a little. I curled up into the fetal position - getting my head as close to my knees as possible (a nurse - Maggie (awesome awesome nurse) stood in front of me to ensure that I was in the right position). Dr. Hamm gave me some freezing and then took her first shot at getting into my spinal canal - didn't quite get it. I got some shooting pain down my leg and she pulled out...try again. She got it the next time and I had to hold that posture perfectly still while she took the same (which she said was very clear - I guess that is a good thing) and then, I think, she injected the drugs. So the chemo I received was injected right in my spinal canal. Crazy. The main concern with the spinal tap is that it may leak and it can cause very severe headaches. Later in the day I got a couple minor ones...but I just took a few Tylenol and drank a ton of water. More water than I had ever consumed in a day.

After the Spinal, I had to lay on my back for 2 hours. Apparently this may or may not be necessary, but Dr. Hamm feels the most comfortable with 2 hours. So...so do I! However, my bladder had a different plan and after 1.5 hours I had to pee.

Before I left I had a great conversation with the nurse, Maggie, who gave me lots of information and answered a ton of questions. I'll attempt to remember what she said:
  • I will be in the first bed on the one side (the nurses have the best view of this bed)
  • the chemo tomorrow can last as short as 6 hours and up to more than 8 and I may have to come back the next day (I think this is very rare). The concern is with the Rituxan drug that my body may not agree with...
  • She told me that they would allow me to ice my port first thing tomorrow morning before they tapped it to prevent pain
  • She gave me a handout of the drug they just gave me
  • I can bring my laptop but no Internet and no phone
  • They want pictures of Isabella

On the way out I picked up my prescriptions from the pharmacy (there is one right in the center of the cancer center). HOLY CRAP. I thought I was getting 3 and they gave me 6. Ug. The pharmacist talked over each one with me and told me when to take them. Some I may not use because they are only for nausea or diarrhea. The nausea one they gave me in oral and suppository form - gross. So, they gave me Kytril (oral pill regular anti-nausea), Lactulose (oral liquid constipation), Allopurinol (oral pill gout and kidney stones), Prochlorperazine (oral pill and suppository for severe nausea), Rabeprazole (oral pill ??? - I guess I'll ask about that one tomorrow) and finally, Prednisone (oral pill steroid).

For those interested I paid $2.45 for all that...without coverage, it would have been $161.45.

I'm pretty tired and I've got kind of a Big day tomorrow...I hope it is very uneventful.

Ciao~

1 comment:

Val said...

Jeff,
it's Thursday, end of day, & just wanted you to know that John and I were thinkin' of you today!! It was probably a tough, miserable day, but remember.... chemo's the good guy. Chin up, everything will be fine. You may even end up with more hair in the end, when it all grows back!!
lots of love, hugs, kisses and good vibes....
val, john & little alien