Hi friends, I'm back with some more details of my first day at the Chemo Infusion Center. I arrived at 8:00am and was done and out of the building by 3:45pm. I get to take my portable infusion pump home with me; think of it as my 48 hour companion. I feel just fine right now except that I would consider myself fairly foggy (so please excuse me if my prose isn't up to my normal standard). I'm not necessarily tired, but rather I'd consider myself to be rather slow as in slow blinking, movement, speech, etc.
Getting my chemo at the infusion center was completely different than receiving it while I was a patient in the hospital. It's very streamlined in the infusion center, comfortable, and looks and feels much different than a regular hospital room. Most of the patients here are "healthy" compared to admitted patients.
My infusion center is a large room divided into little separate alcoves with fake wood floors and large leather like chairs that recline far enough to feel like you're laying down... they are quite comfy. A big plus is there are lots of beverages and good snacks as well as nurses that are constantly asking the patients if they need/want anything.
Prior to any of the real chemo drugs I need to do some prep, think of it as stretching before the the big run. I really started my prep yesterday when I had some Dexamethasone (pill form) which is a steroid, then this morning an hour prior to treatment I took my new anti-nausea drug Emend.
Once at the infusion center I started on the other medications and chemo that are all administered through my fancy new Port via IV. Obviously, the chemo is toxic and the port makes it safer to administer. They actually make an incision so they can put a plastic tube within the vein which is attached to the port that is then placed under the skin. To apply these drugs via other veins can be very harsh on them.
Here I am getting my port accessed.
I noticed in some of the pictures I looked a bit apprehensive, but in all reality it's not bad at all. Numbing spray is sprayed over the area before they add the needle. Once its in place there is no pain or discomfort.
Once my port was accessed I started off with a blood draw and then some:
Once the prep work is done we move on to the real drugs starting with Taxotere a semi-synthetic version of Taxol an extract of the Pacific Yew tree, this runs for just about an hour. Following the Taxotere we move onto Cisplatin a platinum based chemo drug which has the added bonus benefit of being rather toxic to the kidneys. To combat the kidney problems I'm given several liters of saline to help flush out my system, the last one of these also includes some iron and potassium. The process of Cisplatin and fluids takes a little over 4 hours.
Next up is Leukovorin which isn't a chemo medication but helps to combat the ill effects the chemo has on my internal organs. This is a small bag but it takes another two hours.
To finish off we move onto the last drug 5-FU starting with an IV push, then moving onto the portable infusion pump which I get to wear for the next 48 hours. Interestingly enough this particular drug has been used since the 1950's. As I've been sitting here with the pump I can hear it make a noise as each incremental dose of medicine is pumped through. It makes the same noise that your camera makes when the lens closes after sitting idol. There is nothing painful about the pump, except the awkwardness of having to have to wear it. The needle and IV that are attached to port and it isn't painful or even discomforting, but obviously, I won't be sleeping on my chest. After the 48 hours, Kevin will remove the pump, flush the lines and pull the port access line and I'll be back to "normal". Then I will finally get to take a nice hot shower.
All the drugs have lots of side effects and I won't bother to list them all, but I will share what side effects I end up with :) I'll be doing all my anti-nausea meds though, without a doubt. I can say that I've ended this day on an up note (even made a short trip to the craft store with my Kevin's Mom).
Until next time.