Saturday, October 17, 2009

1st Chemo + 36 hours

So far, so good. Thus far, the side-effects of the chemo have been very mild nausea (she said something akin to mild morning-sickness) and fatigue (two naps yesterday and about 10 hours of sleep last night).

We had a visit from P&C (my brother and his wife) yesterday. It was really good to see and visit with them and their family.

A neighbor brought us dinner again last night. We appreciate the love and kindness that are being shared with our family. It has been great to read all of the supportive comments that are being posted and to receive e-mails expressing love and concern.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Heart (Muga!) Scan

It occurs to me that I never wrote about getting my heart scan. They did this to get a baseline reading on my heart and to make sure it is okay, before giving me some of the chemo drugs that can possibly damage it.

So I go in, and they put in a pic line thing, and draw some blood. Then I go out and wait for half an hour. While I am waiting, the blood they drew is getting radiated. Then they give it back. (Reinsert? Inject? Yes, inject!) So they inject me with my radiated blood and I get to go lay down on this skinny table that goes into the donut shaped part of this big machine.

Oh! And the techs who helped me with the heart scan were the same two guys who did the pet/ct scan.

Apparently that pet/ct scan machine is so expensive it is in the trailor so they can drive it to different hospital sites so the hospitals can share the cost. (Or maybe they just like people who have a scary diagnosis to go into a windy trailor to put them at total ease...)

Anyways, back to the Heart scan.

They slide the table into the donut hole, and then rotate the sensor thing around until it is right over the area where they are scanning. Again, it is good I am not that clausterphobic. (get me at a table crammed with side dishes, and that's another story). It helped that the donut sides weren't there. Hmmm. I guess a better explanation would be two sets of hula hoops with white boxes sliding around in between them.
Anyways, the tech is getting the scan box in the right place, and it's about 3 inches away from my nose. He says "Don't worry, I won't hit you with it." And he didn't. Good aim.

So they did about three scans. Then they let me go home. Easy peasy.

Now these scans were to track and measure the amount of blood my heart puts out with each beat.  I got the results from Dr. GG this week, and the scans affirm what my mom has always told me, I have a good heart. (har har, sorry for the bad pun).

Chemo Session 1 (by WonderfulHubby)

I convinced SweetWife (how I will refer to mommyinpigtails) to let me be an author on her blog. I am pretty sure that my posts won't be nearly as fun to read as hers are, but I figure this could be useful as treatment progresses and she may not feel up to writing. This also helps me feel involved in the conversation.

Today was the first session of chemotherapy. The appointment was for 10:30 a.m. A wonderful neighbor watched YB and YG, while OB and OG went to school and stayed with another great neighbor after school.

There was the filling out of all the paperwork. One of the questions was about what problems are you experiencing as a result of your condition. I couldn't help but mention financial demands, stress, exhaustion, the need for surgery, chemotherapy, and a mastectomy. I think she wrote something about tenderness and a bit of discharge on occasion.

As she was finishing the paperwork I moseyed down to the cafeteria to get her a shake (someone mentioned that drinking/eating something cold during chemo could help with the side-effect of blisters/sores in the mouth). They had strawberry (which is what she asked for) and I bought her the biggest one they had.

When I got back she was still waiting to be called back to meet with Dr. H. and then get going on the chemo. At about 11:15 we got called back to meet with Dr. H. He did a quick physical, reviewed the medications and side effects, answered our questions and we were off to the infusion room.

The infusion room is a room (I know, stating the obvious) filled with recliners for the patients, chairs for friends and family members, bookcases with books, a radio playing a local easy listenting station, a candy bowl, blankets, and lots of friendly and kind people. While the Dr. was prepping the chemo, SweetWife got settled in her recliner. She set her strawberry shake next to her chair and I promptly set my bag next to the shake and knocked it over. Strawberry shake everywhere on the floor.

I helped clean that up and the nurse started prepping SweetWife for the meds. They have a special "IV" needle they use for the port-a-cath. It looks like a bent needle. They numbed her and slid it in. It looked like the most discomfort was from the pressure applied to insert the needle.

They then injected a series of meds through the port. One was benadryl, one was an anti-nausea medication, and the others I can't recall what they were for, but I think they were to manage the side-effects. The regimen she is on consists of three different "drugs". Each is infused separately with each taking anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Total infusion time is about 4 hours. The drugs they are using are: Taxotere, Carboplatin, and Herceptin.

At this point I went down to the cafeteria and grabbed lunch (she can eat & drink during the infusions) and brought it back. We ate and then settled in for a long afternoon of sitting. We chatted a bit with the patients around us. A couple of them noted how young SweetWife is. It was great to be surrounded by such nice, positive people. One of the conversations turned to my hometown. One of the nurses was from a small town in the same state I am from, a couple of patients and their families nearby had been to the area I am from. It was a small-world experience.

I also managed to sneak down to the Family Clinic we go to and get my flu shot and chat with Dr. GG. He commented on how pleased and proud he was of how SweetWife is handling all of this. The receptionist that checked me in said the same thing.

A patient later in the day came in and as we were chatting with her, SweetWife asked about where to get wigs. She shared a couple of places that she got hers from. We will need to check with the insurance about whether or not they will foot the bill for that. SweetWife is unsure if she wants one or not. I will support her either way. However, I think she might enjoy having a wig or two.

The infusions were finished at about 4:30 and I took her home. I then ran a couple of errands and picked up YG and YB. They had been really good for the sitter and had lots of fun playing.

We cannot express enough appreciation for all of the kindness and support we have received. It sounds like the chemo is going to take about 18 weeks to complete (depending on how the cancer responds) and then it will be on to surgery.

Tomorrow, SweetWife's mother is coming to spend the day and help out, for which I am very grateful. They said the nausea and other side-effects (if there are any) would start 24-36 hours after the infusions. Once we start to see the side-effects then we will have a much better feel for what we are in for in the next few months.