My Status: Head-achy & slightly nauseous
Mood: Hanging in there
Today was long. Reeeeaaaallllly long. For a lot of reasons. Where do I start?
I’m going to start at the beginning of the day with the arrival of my in-laws half an hour early. Which I did anticipate them being a little early, just not half an hour. Okay, no problem, all I had to do was finish making my tea to take with for my chemo session—except my stress level is difficult to keep under control with them. They are the best-hearted people, and immediately insisted on being able to help once they knew I had to have chemo. I appreciate their willingness to drive me so much—I need someone to drive me. What I don’t need is my stress levels increasing, especially on a day when I was already a little stressed. I won’t go into the gritty details of the additional stress, suffice it to say I went from a slightly elevated stress level to through the roof. The reason my stress levels were elevated to begin with was that I didn’t know whether chemo would be a go today or not. Yesterday I went for my labs, but the test for the liver was done too late in the day to have the results same day and we wouldn’t know whether I’d even be able to have chemo until I arrived this morning.
We arrived early, and they took me back early, which ended up being a very good thing. Got the results. YAY!!! Chemotherapy was a go. I got myself settled, the pre-chemo cocktail all hooked in, and we were off. One the prep cocktail was done, we started the first chemo bag. I had brought movies, so was watching a movie and didn’t pay attention to when the bags were switched. But sometime between 10:30 and 10:45 I noticed labored breathing. I paused the movie and took a couple of deep breaths to see whether it would ease like it had the time before. My heart raced and it felt like something was pressing against my chest—hard. Not quite the elephant on the chest thing of a heart attack, but heavier than a two-year-old.
I knew this wasn’t right and it was getting worse quickly, so I told the chemo nurse I was having trouble breathing. She immediately turned off the drip and went for the doctor. They gave me a shot of something (not Benadryl—because I’m allergic to it) and the heaviness of the chest decreased, and after a few minutes the heart rate lessened. Apparently I was very flushed as well—even when I felt much more normal.
The decision was made to continue, but to give me chemo bag number 2 first, and then after I had gone through that one, we’d try chemo bag number 1 at a slower pace because I had handled it okay during Cycle 1. Normally Day 1 chemo of the cycle should last approximately 6 hours. We started this morning somewhere around 9:15 and it was after 6 PM by the time I was done. And THAT is a long time to be sitting in a chair with chemicals dripping into you.
The picture at the top of the post is because I feel as if I had a Christmas Angel sitting on my shoulder today. We were too close to making a hospital visit, and I am blessed to have a chemo nurse who reacted quickly and got things turned around as fast as she did. This also means I can count on the remainder of my Day 1 cycles being longer than the expected 6 hours. Hopefully not in the neighborhood of 9 hours, like today, but we will always need to start chemo bag 1 slowly and gradually increase to mitigate potential for the allergic reaction. Post chemo I have a blistering headache as a gift from the allergic reaction, I’m retaining water like a camel to the point where I can feel the swelling, and I have the after day 1 slight case of nausea. Tylenol has been taken for the headache, anti-nausea medication has been taken (and by the end of this post I’m feeling much better), and I have taken a sleeping pill to help counteract one of the prep cocktail drugs which causes me to not sleep well. I will have some tea and shortly (with any luck) sleep.
Oh, and the reason I need a driver? One of the drugs can cause confusion, as evidenced tonight when I reached into the back of the car we’ve had for 8 years and scrabbled around trying to find the door handle so I could put my things in the back seat. We only have two-door cars.
We’ll see what tomorrow brings.