What was it like?

As promised, this post will go into the details of my very first chemo appointment. But before I dive in, I am proud to announce that Paul and I *just* became Auntie and Uncle to our newest niece in Buffalo. Paul’s brother, Mark and his wife, Sandy had a baby girl early today. I am keeping her name and details to myself so that they can spread their joy on their own terms — I don’t want to steal their thunder! But, what an amazing day! Congrats to the newest Sieminski family member, born in Buffalo no less! YAY!

OK, so day of the infusion was like any other day. I had a late appointment, at 1pm. So I kept busy throughout the morning by wrapping and mailing all of our east coast xmas gifts.  Before we knew it, it was time to go. I made sure to eat a slice of pizza before we left. I was told it’s good to have a little something in your stomach on infusion day.

So, with a kiss and a pat on the head to Lucy, we were out the door. Upon arrival, things moved pretty quickly. I was taken for vitals and a blood draw.  Then we met with Dr. Smith in a private room where he went into great detail about what would be happening (he did this to set our minds at ease and answer any questions we might have had).

Dr. Smith accompanied us into the group infusion room (which BTW, has one of the nicest views in the city — I’ll post pics next time I go) and we set up camp. I laid out all of my amenities (lip stick, hand lotion etc) and Paul made himself comfy as well.  Dr. Smith came in and set up my IV. We can’t use my “surgical arm” for any chemo. My “surgical arm” is the arm on the side where my tumor and sentinel node removal took place (so my left side). Everything from here forward has to be done on my right side (at least that’s how I understand it to work — what is the rationale behind this? I have zero clue).

Once the IV was in place, the first bag I got was an anti-nausea bag. It was small, and only took about 15 minutes to drip.  It had medication to cover me for the next 12 hours, as well as, a drug that would kick in again three days later (on, what would presumably be, my worst day). After that bag was done, he added the second bag, which was BIG. It was the “C” drug (Cytoxan) mixed with a ton of saline (to keep my hydrated). That bag took about an hour and forty five minutes to drip. The good news is that I decided to get acupuncture during that bag. So I just went off to another room, IV pole and all, and the acupuncturist and I did our thing. Before I knew it, an hour and fifteen minutes had passed and my second bag was nearly done.

I met Paul back in the group room (I felt badly leaving him all on his own for most of the treatment — but he kept himself busy and did a blog entry of his own). Once the second bag was finished, they prepped me for the “A” or Adriamycin.  So that one gets administered directly into my IV. They hung a small-ish bag of pure saline and flushed my IV for a bit with it. When it was half way through, Dr. Smith came in with what looked like a turkey baster full of red Gatorade.   He manually pushed that into my IV, then we finished the saline. That was it. It was pretty painless and went rather quickly.   I’ve been told that it’s good to eat or suck on something cold during the Adriamycin — to avoid mouth sores. So I had a an orange Popsicle, yum!

The next few days were the trickiest part for us. There is no one formula to be followed by chemo patients to ensure you feel good and escape the misery. Rather, you have to tinker and adjust the drugs, anti-emetics etc. on your own until you find your own rhythm. For those of you who know me — this is my worst nightmare come true. I am really good at following directions; just tell me what to do and I’ll do it in order to avoid feeling shitty!

Well, no such luck! I had a few rough days, I did throw up and I still can’t figure out what foods sound or smell appetizing to me.  We had to throw out our Christmas wreath because the smell of it was making me want to vomit every time I walked past it (Sure hope that doesn’t happen with our actual xmas tree!) But, at the end of the day, we learned a few important points for the next go around. For example, I was on way too much Sennakot-S, that caused a lot of my discomfort. So I’ll cut back on that. And, honestly, medical marijuana really does work. I have to admit that I was a little bit afraid of it — but when you are feeling so shitty, you will do anything. And it really did work for me. So I am happy about that. I wish, dear reader, that I had the magic answer to all of this for you — but I don’t, it’s stupid trial and error. Just have lots of barf bags at the ready.

In any event, I gave myself a goal on the day of the infusion. I reached out to some friends to set up a movie date for tonight (day 5). Putting an event on the calendar works to motivate me to get out of my head, get moving around and force myself to get better. So, the proof will be in the pudding tonight my friends. We are on for a 6:40pm movie! Here’s hoping I don’t dry heave throughout the entire thing!  jk jk jk jk (sort of).

My next post will be super fun. It will be a recap of the Krpata holiday party. Sure to please all and get everyone out there in the holiday spirit!

2 thoughts on “What was it like?

  1. it is so upsetting that so many people including young kids have to go thru the pain of chemotherapy everyday .I remember a newborn that was born with sarcoma of shoulder blade.my heart has ached so many times seeing all this at roswell park cancer institute when i worked there . if god granted me one wish i would ask to take away pain and heart break of diseases,and senseless killings.
    Ann,i don’t know you but your email to Andrea was inspirational.it was so touching and straight from the heart.I admire your and your husband’s strength.the courage it took to go thru the pragnancy knowing that your daughter had multiple problems,i cannot imagine the patience and hard work it required to take care of Mandie.i know you miss her.your amazing marriage and consideration for one another makes me very happy.your suggestion to andrea and Paul is going to give them strength.
    one last thing–your boys are being brought up to be very senstive,caring and mature human beings.this came thru loud and clear in your email..i am happy to know that you know Andrea ,reached out to her,and transmitted some of your strength to her i hope we meet some day.
    mandie will be taken good care of in a happy place where she is not suffering.i am sorry you are hurting due to losing her.if i can help in any way i hope you will reach out to me.
    love jaya [andreas mother]

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