So now that I am 3 days away from getting a little break in my treatments, I figured I would change things up a little and go in-depth about what it is like while going through a treatment. I hope this gives people a little bit better understanding of what happens for 3 days every other week.
On Wednesday I wake up at 8:00 and get into the shower knowing that this will be my last shower until Friday mid-morning. I don't shower only because it is way too much of a hassle to try and get a shower with a 2 foot IV chord and chemo pump hanging over the top of the shower. Jenny and I then get into the car at 8:30 (hopefully to be on time) to get to the Cancer Center by 9:00 for a treatment. Jenny 9 times out of 10 will drive because there is no way that I can drive with all of the drugs that I am on by the time we leave. We arrive and I get into my chair and set up my laptop, drink, candy, and pills that I take while there. I start with 2 different IV bags of pre-treatment drugs. These are to help with delayed nausea. These usually take around 3o minutes a piece to go through. I then will take a Claritin to help prevent an allergic reaction to the Erbitux. This is next and takes around 1 hour to go through. Then I get a drug pushed through very slowly through my IV line that will help my stomach not get upset from the actual Chemo drugs which is called Atropine which feel like someone is beating my chest with a hammer over and over again. I then will get the actual Chemo called FOLFIRI. This takes an hour and a half to go through. Once that is over I wait for the nurse from Intramed to bring my pump, get me hooked up to my portable pump and its back to the house.
While getting all of these drugs I am trying my best to keep up with work or finishing up with anything that is left over from the day before. I mentioned earlier that I keep candy next to me while I am there and that is to help with the awful taste that I get in the back of my throat. (I am gagging right now just thinking about it) I usually get a special treat of the most amazing donuts each week from the Lewis' and a couple of people that read this have gotten to have one of these amazing donuts. I try to each as much as I can from the time that I wake up to the time that I get back to my house after the treatment, because once I get home I can not eat until I get unhooked on Friday. And to clarify it is not because I am not hungry, it's because I cannot force anything down without feeling like it is going to come right back up. (This goes back to why I have candy with me at all times)
Now that I have gotten back to my house I am usually extremely sleepy from the Ativan that I took at the Cancer Center. I will take about a 2 hour nap once I get home. I keep my phone next to me just in case work calls and most of the time I can wake up to answer it. I'll wake up and try to see what phone calls that I have missed while I was knocked out cold and usually will take another Ativan because it will be way past my 4 hour interval. I try to stay on the Ativan all the way up to Friday morning and I will take one when I wake up and then try to get through the rest of the day without one. After checking the phone and my email I will usually go out into the living room and sit with Jenny for about 30 minutes (usually to watch Modern Family) before I am back in the bed laying down because I start to not feel too good. At around 7:00 she will make me a smoothie (which is the only thing I can stomach) and I will have that and lay in bed for the rest of the night.
When Thursday rolls around I will usually wake up at around 9:30 after tossing and turning all night because the 2ft IV chord I told you about earlier gets wrapped around me from turing all night long. For some reason that is one of the things that makes me gag even several days after I am finished with my treatment. Once I wake up I will check my work email and check in with work to see what I can help out with that day. Jenny will make me my 2nd smoothie of the round about an hour after I get up. Of the 3 days that I am on treatment this is the hardest. I think that it is because it is the longest day that I have to be hooked up. Once I have been up for about 2 hours or so my Atiavan usually kicks in and I start to get sleepy again, and will take about a 2 hour nap. I usually dose off about twice on Thursday from the Atiavan. I dont know if it really works that good for nausea or it just knocks me out so I dont think about it. Once again on this day I have no desire to eat anything and will feel the nausea effects even more. I have not thrown up since the first round this time but that doesn't mean that I don't gag at least 10 times during each treatment. I try to brush my tongue to get the nasty taste out of my mouth as many times as possible but the gagging keeps me from doing it too much. By the end of Thursday I can't wait for Friday morning to come fast enough, to finally have the round come to an end.
Friday is the best day every other week for me. I will wake up and take an Atiavan first thing in the morning and try to not take another one for the rest of the day. I will feel the nausea a bit but I am so excited to finally get unhooked that it doesn't faze me to much. The taste is still in my mouth and will be until mid to late afternoon on Saturday. I just try to eat foods with a lot of flavor and drink either Mnt. Dew or Dr. Pepper. These seem to help only because of how sweet they are and because they are so sweet I'll only drink them while I'm on tratment. By Saturday I have most of my strength back and on Sunday I am pretty much back to normal.
I try not to complain too much while on these drugs and not let anyone know that those 3 days are pretty rough, but the fact is that those days are not fun but it is something that I have to deal with and just move on. Now, comparing what I have to go through to some of the other people that I see on a bi-weekly basis I do have it pretty easy. I think seeing some of the other people struggling during their treatments or seeing one of the younger kids struggling to walk out to the parking lot has to be one of the toughest things about this process. Nothing is fair and nothing is easy for someone going through this. There is a constant fear of what will happen next that is always there. The mind is a very powerful thing so that is why I try to keep a smile on my face and continue to tell myself that "it's not that bad". Now to end this on a positive note since I have been a "Debbie Downer" throughout this whole blog. Learning I have this disease was one of the worst days of my life, and dealing with it everyday is a struggle but I have been so lucky to get this because it has allowed me to meet so many wonderful people. I have 2 amazing nurses at the Cancer Center in Lynn and Stephanie. They make the process every other Wed. much easier to deal with. They have become great friends to Jenny and I. Dr. Edenfield is a wonderful and such a positive person. When we found out things were starting to look a little better you would have thought he just won the lottery. And lastly, some of the other patients that I have been able to meet. I am not going to name names bc of HIPPA rules but we have started a friendship that I would have never been able to have without this disease. I still stay in-contact with some of them via Facebook and emails. I would have never thought that getting this disease would make me the lucky person.
I hope that I didn't scare anyone or provide too many details, but I figured some people might want to hear a little bit about what goes on. I can't thank everyone enough for all of the support and prayers over these past 5 months. Like I said the process is tough but support of friends and family make it all worth it. I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day Weekend.