Part 2: Your Buddy Russ Talks About His Chemo
Well, here we are with Part 2 of this whole cancer journey. If you are just joining in the story, feel free to read and catch up below:
All caught up? Good, let's talk about the chemo side of things. Chemo has come a long way from back in the day. I can remember horror stories from friends that had relatives just miserable with chemotherapy. They'd dump it in the body and hope for the best. Granted, it's still bad out there and I am not discounting it whatsoever, but they're able to cater to easier chemotherapies based on the severity.
I met with my Oncologist when I got into Baton Rouge. First and foremost, whether I have been here in Lake Charles for radiation or in Baton Rouge for chemo, I have yet to meet a single staff member from either hospital that is rude or not completely caring. They literally talk to you like you are the only patient they are handling. That goes a long way since you are literally scared for your life.
I had my "pre" therapy meeting where we went over the scary details of what could happen after we begin the chemo process. Hair loss, mouth sores, dehydration, neuropathy, memory loss, pain, and more that I don't care to discuss. You get the idea. It's all extreme, but you are about to get filled with a substance that is meant to kill the most perfect cells in your body. It's why it takes such a toll on you.
The cells in your body wish they could be cancer. It replicates fast, it is hard to stop, it doesn't get sick, it literally is the strongest thing in the human body. The chemo steps in and cripples it. Since it's strong enough to kill the perfect cell in your body, that means your normal cells also get hit extra hard. Which is why it takes it out of you as you get chemo. Your body is getting beat up from all angles with it.
So we do the whole meeting, take some labs, and off we go to the chemo area. Dad saw suckers on the desk and took one.
OOOO dum dums, I haven't had one in forever
I really didn't know what to expect, but it was really nice. The chairs were not only electric to lean back, but they even had heated seats! They let me pick my spot and I sat down. Next thing I know, here comes a snack cart! I could get used to this royal treatment.
I met my infusion nurse. I have heard rumors that they are the salt of the Earth and have seen it all. Being raised by an old-school ER nurse, I believed it. I gave my infusion nurse a run for her money. I get scared and nervous and I tend to crack too many jokes. Finally, Dad spoke up and told me to calm down. I told the nurse I was sorry and I was just super nervous about it all. She smiled and said she would be right back. She returned with some syringes.
You know how they say don't mess with the person that serves you your food because they might do something to it? The same goes for your infusion nurse that also has access to drugs.
As she is making her grand speech, she takes a syringe and screws it into my IV with a really scary smirk on her face.
Here's 50mg of Benadryl, that should take care of all of your worries and shut you up for a bit.
I think I was able to stay aware enough to say no way that would work, call her a name, and I began to drool and passed out.
The process began. The first bag in the air was Taxol. This one is a touch strong. They ran it slow for the first 30 min to make sure I wouldn't have a severe reaction to it. After 30 min, I felt ok and they ramped me up to full tilt boogie on it. That took about 2 hours to complete. I dozed on and off, had an apple juice, dad played on his phone and we swapped stories. The nurses would come around every 15-20 min and check on us. I dozed off towards the end.
BEEP BEEP BEEP. Bag number one was done. Time to move on to the next. It got hung, and we were off to the races again. This one was only 45 min. Really didn't notice anything as it was all happening. In fact, I felt nothing the entire time. She flushed my IV to make sure I got all of my money's worth of chemo and pulled my IV out.
The ride home was better than I expected. I was just worn out. It was a long day, but I also was starving. I didn't really each much that day because I was a ball of nerves. Dad and I stopped off to get pizza before he brought me home. I killed an entire large pizza on my own.
The next day is when things got interesting. I woke up to burning in my feet. That would be the neuropathy they talked about from the Taxol. I rubbed them against each other and it went away. I got up out of bed and the old legs were a bit jello-like. Also a symptom. Other than feeling tired, that was really about it. I didn't feel sick to my stomach or anything.
I went about my day yesterday and towards the end of the day I began to feel stiff and my skin was on fire. I had a horrible headache and my brain was just in a fog.
Oh my God, I haven't eaten or drank anything this whole day
When they said loss of appetite, I thought they meant I would be sick at my stomach NOT that I would just not feel hungry! I was dehydrated and starving apparently. The chemo messes with your stomach and it can't tell your brain that you're starving. So two bottles of water, 2 bottles of Gatorade, Benadryl, Claritin, and food. I was golden. Mom swears the Claritin does NOTHING, but I was told to take it by 4 others. So it can't hurt, right?
I slept like a rock last night and woke up just sluggish. My brain is still foggy. I miss words, it has taken me 3 hours to type this because I forget where I am in the story or mess up half of my sentences. I also at one point in this story forgot to use ANY punctuation. I fixed it, don't go back and look.
As I wrap up this story, my hope is that someone out there that is going through cancer or something else runs across this and can either laugh a bit, learn something, or just know that you are not alone in the world when it comes to this useless disease. If you know someone going through it, share these stupid stories with them. At least you can laugh along, it keeps you from crying. I love you!
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