I slept surprisingly well last night. David and I talked about it and I think because I didn't want him to have to sit there for hours with me I told him he didn't have to come. He had been to all of the other appointments and he does have to work. I had planned to take my playlist (and then there are the podcasts I am behind on) with my headphones and just pass the time. I brought along some crochet and my "adult" coloring book with colored pencils in case I wanted something for my hands to do.
Mom came over last night and asked what the plan was for today. I had been reading my chemotherapy handbook and was a little overwhelmed at the time. To be honest, I didn't know anything about the process other than everyone is different...different than normal, different for each person, etc. I wrote a little about that in yesterday's blog. She said she didn't have to be anywhere today so if I wanted, she could go with me. The more I thought about it the more I liked that idea.
She was over at the house a little before 8 this morning and we were off. Blood work was first and WOW! I have to say the port is AWESOME! Compared to all of the attempts to get blood from the veins in my left hand it was so nice! The nurse prepared the tubing and took two vials of blood and the butterfly needle just stayed in the port for the rest of it later. I kid you not...I did not feel a thing!
We talked for an hour or so with the education nurse and she answered pretty much EVERY question I had about what was going to happen to my body, and we covered it ALL! She was so professional but personal at the same time, treating us like people and understanding that there are a range of emotions in the whole experience. I won't go through all of the side effects, maybe I can address any that come up in the coming days.
Speaking of the obvious side affect I was a little bummed to hear that all three of the meds that I will get will cause hair loss. (Some only cause thinning) Surprising to me (and a little panicked) she told me that by two weeks or my next treatment I will probably already feel like shaving whatever is left. That was a little shorter time frame than I expected so I asked about the wig person that I was supposed to talk to at my last iron infusion. She said she would send her to me.
We then went back to the infusion room. I won't go step by step other than to say, they hooked the saline to the tubing that was already there from the blood draw (how totally cool to not have to deal with anymore "sticks") The meds started with two steroids to help control nausea. (the two chemo drugs are known to cause a lot of that) That took a little over a half hour. Then the first chemo drug has to be administered through a syringe over a 15 minute time period. The nurse came over with four large syringes and did that to watch for any immediate reactions. This drug can cause blisters on the skin if it leaks. All went well though and we were on to the next drug. Unlike a regular IV I was surprised how LITTLE I felt as these powerful drugs went in. The iron was awful through the smaller veins in my arm.
Then it was back to the drip in the IV bag which took another 30 minutes. The day after each of the first four rounds I will have to get a shot to help boost my white blood count. They gave me the option to wear a little device that will administer that over 45 minutes tomorrow. I have to be sure that when I hear the beep that I am not doing anything strenuous during that time. I took the option. It flashes a green light every five seconds so the boys thought that was pretty cool.
After that we were done and on our way. BUT...that is the "clinical" and "sterile" description of the day. I can not leave it at that because there were also many blessings and answered prayer today that so many of you have had a part in and I don't want to leave that out! The time went so fast mainly because on my first day there were a lot of people who came to see me. There is a nurse who has gone through breast cancer and chemo. Her chemo ended in December (she had super cute hair eight months out) and was a wealth of knowledge when making decisions about my soon to be bald head. We talked a long time about her kids and how it is when you are sick and you have to help your kids get through it. JUST what I needed!
The social worker stopped by and she brought a certificate for a free wig through the group Strands of Strength at two of our local salons. I was blown away by that and now have an appointment on Friday to try on and order a wig! The thing that almost got me teary was when she also gave me a Visa gift card from a group called "Faith Family Friends" out of Central City and the local group "Aiming for a Cure". She explained that their goal is to help children who have cancer or children who have a parent with cancer.
I can not explain the reaction from the girls when I told them. See, over the weekend in a discussion with the family one of the kids told us they knew that we would probably not be able to do our traditional sushi the night before school starts. Shoot...yea I thought...that stinks. Well, that discussion ended quickly because no one really wanted to ponder that. It was sad. But today I told them that we got this gift card and they nodded like that was good. Then I said "that is plenty and then some for sushi!" (and I have a coupon and we have points on our Oyama card) The girls both squealed and hugged me and I felt so excited that like we can keep some things semi-normal. Praise the Lord for taking care of my little people's hearts!
All in all when everyone had made there way in to talk to me about this new life I am temporarily leading, Mom and I sat just the two of us for all of 20 minutes of the whole thing. Not every time will be like this but now I feel like I know what I am doing and everyone knows me by name. Mom and I were talking this afternoon about how everyone there was so awesome! It is true, it takes a special person to come to work and be able to make an unpleasant experience tolerable for the people who are going through a very hard time in their lives. Every person there was so compassionate so those of you who have been praying for that THANK YOU! Prayers have been answered!
A little too lengthy today but I will leave you with some specific prayer requests for those of you who have made it this far.
- Prayers for the kids as my hair falls out...especially Zachary. This is the rough issue for him. I am hoping the wig will help. We will be looking for something as close to what I have looked like in the past year or so.
- Prayers to help my digestive system. I can already tell my intestines have now joined the "fight". I have been working naturally for the last couple months to build up the good fighting bacteria and will keep doing that.
- Please pray that I can stay on top of the side effects. I don't want to hesitate to call the 24/7 phone number when I am worried or not sure of something that is going on. (I am kinda one of those people who doesn't want to cause anyone trouble so I will sometimes wait til it is unbearable. Today they said don't do that numerous times).
- Please pray that the neoropathy (not sure about the spelling but neither is spell check) that sometimes comes with these drugs (especially the one I start in October) will skip me all together. I already have some of those symptoms without chemo. If they don't skip me then that they will only be temporary. (some people have struggled permanently with some of this after chemo is over)
- Praise Praise Praise for my port!
- Praise Praise Praise for the awesome blessing of a wig and the continuing of a treasured family tradition of sushi on "the first day of school eve"! God is SO good!
As I go to bed I realize that this may be the best I feel for the next few days. Just know that I am praising Him as I fall asleep for the GOOD that has come from this day and for all of you who have read down to the bottom and are praying for me! It is an inspiration to me knowing you and then hearing about all who are praying who I haven't even met in person. Thank you! There really are no words to describe how humbling it all is and the realization that God is orchestrating our lives in this very real way is so comforting.
I will end with a quote from my mom who in her quiet way inserts her wisdom every once in awhile, never meddling but always comforting. As she left last night to go back home after letting me know she would be happy to go with me today she said "well, you can't reach the end until you start." I would say that today was a pretty good start if that can even be said about chemo.