Saturday, June 20, 2009

First Treatment (with photos!)

Hey Guys!

Sorry it took so long to get all of this posted - I just got a new laptop & I've been playing with it & trying to figure out how to get everything to work (including loading new pictures)


Back to Monday - I had my first chemo treatment, and it went just about as smoothly (maybe even more so) than I had anticipated! Unfortunately, I had to get there at 7:30am, which kind of sucked, but later on in the day I got to nap, so that made u
p for the missed morning sleep.

I was surprised at how quickly I got taken back to my room - everything was all setup and waiting for me, with a little bucket that I referred to as my "Welcome Basket" - with all of my IV paraphernalia and bags of fluids that they were planning on giving me that day.

I met with my doctor and the fellow who would be following my doctor & helping her keep track of everything. In a coincidence, the fellow's name is Sarah and we happen to have the same birthday! So this coming Monday when I go in for my treatment, I'm planning on bringing a couple of cupcakes for a little morning celebration (and hope that I can get out early enough to have a real celebration!)

The most nerve-wracking part of the entire day was having my port accessed. Earlier in the morning, my mom had put some numbing cream (Emla) on it so that the skin over my port would be completely numb before I was accessed, but since I'd only had it put in a few days before, it was a little swollen and raw and I was really afraid it was still going to hurt.

However, it was so quick I probably wouldn't have even noticed it if I hadn't had to lay in a kind of awkward position. The nurse was fantastic - she was only a couple years older than I am, and she was really cool about getting everything done quickly. Basically, when she put the IV in my port, it just felt like she was pushing down on the cap of a jar that had already been opened (which was a weird but kind of cool sensation under my skin):

After I had my port accessed, it was a little sore and would be sore on and off for the rest of the day, but my nurse told me that it had to do with the fact that it was new and tender - she's right... it's been over a week now since I had it put in and now I basically forget that it's there...

For the rest of the day, I mostly just hung out with my mom and my brother. My brother had been at a sleepover the night before, and was a HUGE source of emotional support from his place on the recliner next to my bed:
He basically slept the entire day! I was extremely jealous...

One thing that I wasn't expecting was how easy the treatment was. When they came and changed my bag from saline fluids to the chemo, I was expecting to be able to tell the difference... Maybe start having some side effects right away or getting more tired, but for the most part I couldn't tell the difference. Until I started sweating. That was the only side effect that I experienced for the majority of the day - I felt like I was going through menopause and having hot flashes! I was sweating SO MUCH and was really happy that I wore layers. The sweating wasn't bothering me too much though until I had to get a shot in my bottom (which didn't hurt at the time but felt SO bruised for several days afterwards). It was totally worth it though because the shot makes it so I won't have my period for three months... I'm thinking people should ALWAYS have this shot!

Another interesting thing about being at Children's is how accommodating everyone is - the nurses and doctors are so kind and were really great about explaining everything to me, not just assuming that if I wanted to know something that I'd ask a question. A lot of the time, I didn't even know that I wanted to ask a question until they had already answered it! It was awesome, too, that I had a room service menu that I could order off of and they'd bring me almost anything I wanted within 45 minutes. The menu was HUGE and had everything from cereal and gummy bears to spaghetti dinners and pretty much anything you can think of - especially fun kids food like teddy grahams and chicken nuggets... I took full advantage of that and ordered two lunches.

I also got to leave a lot earlier than I had been anticipating. I had assumed I'd be there til about 8pm, but was home by about 5:30 - it was great, because I was able to have dinner at home and relax a little. The doctor and nurses had also been preparing me to get pretty sick that morning and the next day, but I felt almost perfectly fine. I had a little bit of nausea, but they gave me some great medication called Zofran that took that away almost immediately.

I was feeling so great for the first couple of days after I had my first treatment, but I probably should have looked a little closer at what I was eating. I'm taking a couple of oral drugs, and I knew the oral chemo had several food interactions, so I was being very careful to stay away from cheese, bananas, coffee, soft drinks, wine, and beer (the coffee, wine, and beer are especially hard when I'm working with so many fun people who I love going out with) - but I hadn't realized that I had to stay away from spicy as well. I made the terrible mistake of having some incredible pad thai that my wonderful boss Stephanie brought for dinner on Wednesday, and unfortunately, I'm still paying for it. I was supposed to start a mouth-care regime when I had my first treatment, but I'm pretty sure they forgot to give it to me until I called my nurse on Thursday because I've started to develop mouth sores. They're not sores yet, but they're raw spots all around my tongue and at the back of my throat. They weren't expecting me to get them so soon, but since I LOVE spicy food and didn't know to stay away from it, they've started earlier. I'm on something now, but am very disappointed to be having to stick to a bland diet until it all heals up (my mom assures me that this will happen soon, and if I stick with my mouthwash, they hopefully won't be a problem again). You'd be surprised at how fast a mostly ice cream and milkshake diet starts to suck.

Another side effect I've started seeing is the weight loss - although I can't tell if it's from the chemo directly or from not wanting to eat because of the sores. I'm afraid that they're going to put me on some kind of special diet because I've lost a few pounds since Monday, but I guess things could be much worse.

I've also been keeping up at work really well - I love my job and I've been making some new friends with the chorus people that I didn't know before and with some of the other interns. I want to give a HUGE thank-you to Deb Van Engen and all of the lovely chorus members who gave me a mani-pedi from Mitchell's yesterday, along with a very sweet card. You guys are so fantastic, and thank you so much for thinking of me!

That's basically all for now - I go back in on Monday, and will definitely be updating sooner! It'll be my birthday, so hopefully things will be a little more festive! Also since I've been less tired, I'm planning on attending more opera events, so look out for some fun tidbits about all of the crazy people I encounter coming in and out of this building...

As a sign-out story, I'll give you a quick story about a character I met last night.

As the rehearsal department intern with the opera, I do a lot of sitting in a converted dressing room and answering phones and questions. Last night, after the piano tech was over and the production people were having the post-rehearsal meeting, I was approached by one of the older first-time supernumeraries. This is not an area which I have any answers for. He begins by arguing with me about the call time for the Dress Rehearsal tonight. When I finally convince him that he does indeed need to show up at 5:30 instead of 6:30, he proceeds to ask me if he will be allowed to bring his clothes and his wallet into my office tomorrow for me to hold onto for him. I explain that that is something he will have to discuss with the Supernumerary Captain, and that I am not responsible for his belongings. Finally, he leaves me with this lovely mental image: he asks if he will be allowed to have his makeup applied in his underwear, and then "hang out" in his underwear until he is required onstage since his costume is extremely hot.

I had no words.

Talk to you soon,
Lots of love,

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