Monday, April 7, 2008
Whew... one down, 8 more to go. At the end of the day the biggest thing I can offer up for all your intentions is the fear and anxiety (and some fatigue and dizziness, but nothing severe).
The first moment of grace came in the morning when I received an email (from someone I've never met but who knows my sister and has been praying for me) concerning chemo and nausea. The article mentioned being very careful about going into treatment expecting to be severely nauseous; this can cause nausea and vomiting independent of treatment (called anticipatory nausea). When I read this, I realized that I had been doing just that- planning to offer up all my nausea for the intentions people had sent to me (the side effect was I was already experiencing mild nausea and headache from the anticipation). That was grace #1.
I came to the appointment with my entourage of 3 in tow (I've sort of got a reputation for this now; I would hate to disappoint anyone). Charity had packed a suitcase full of everything I could need in any eventuality; the nurse had a good chuckle at the size of it (the down comforter took up a lot of room).
The doctors were expecting that my nausea would be severe, so they PACKED on the nausea meds before they even began the chemo- 4 kinds! It was another moment of grace as the first drug they gave me I had heard mentioned before (Emend). A woman my age had been going through chemo and having very serious side effects with the nausea, but until they gave her this drug she was not getting any relief. The problem was that it is new and extremely expensive; she had to fight to get it. I had told myself that if I was really struggling with the nausea I would ask for it. Well, right after the nurse hooked me up to the IV (this was the most nerve- wracking part) she told me they were giving me two drugs that were the Mercedes Benz and the Cadillac of anti- nausea meds. The first one was this Emend, and the second was another one known to strengthen the effectiveness of the first! That was big grace #2.
Then they started the chemo drugs- that's when I began to feel a bit woozy. The first one is a deep, diabolical red color reminiscent of the color of my eyes in a flash photograph (or like that European Sans Bitter drink that Mike brought to the mafia party awhile back). Anyway, this drug is not in the IV, although you are hooked up to the IV. The nurse has it in a syringe and pushes a tiny bit in, then pulls back to make sure she is still in the vein, then pushes saline in. The reason for the extreme caution on this first drug is that if it gets anywhere outside the vein, it causes instantaneuos ulcerations. This was nerve- wracking, as every little sting and burn I had to restrain myself from yelling "stop it, it's escaping!" But I regained reason and all went just fine, though a bit intense. Then the cytoxin came next, that was just hooked into the IV and took about 45 minutes.
We didn't get to do the rosary during this first session as we had planned; during the entire time the nurse was training us on the home drugs and injections that we would need to be doing by ourselves (white blood cell boosters). This training actually lasted longer than the IV session itself. But I brought your intentions and when we got home myself, my parents and sister Charity said the rosary together. Future session s will be less supervised, except for the adriamycin (can't remember how to spell this one...) portion where those 10- 15 minutes will be entirely nurse- controlled.
Driving home in the car I was still marvelling and said- "you know, this is so bizarre- other than a headache and fatigue, I feel absolutely fine!" Charity said "that's funny, because I feel nauseous. And I think I have a sore in my mouth..." When I called Trisha later, she said she has been nauseous all day. And my mom didn't sleep the night before...
So now it is about 10:00 the following day. I'm feeling pretty good, considering, just like I am at the beginning of a cold (sore throat, fatigue, a little stomach cramping). My one crazy disappointment is that I have so many intentions to pray for- I was figuring the graces would just start POURING in as soon as I started puking! Whoo hoo! But I am extremely thankful to have had such a gentle beginning to this whole experience, and I'm sure it is due to all your prayers for me! Please keep them coming and please pray for all the other intentions I have received as well! Either I or Charity will try to keep you posted.