Chronicles of Chemotherapy – Cycle #2
Oh my! It has been 4 days since my last post. It has been a very active 4 days. I had a follow-up appointment with the surgeon to see how my wound has been healing and any problematic symptoms since I started my chemo. So far so good and the next follow-up will be in 4 month time. Phew – one less doctor to see for now. Resumed my swimming exercise and squeezed in a lunch with some ex-colleagues.
I am going to reflect back on my second chemotherapy. Initially, the scheduled date was 28 October but I didn’t want to be sick for my birthday. It was my 40th and I had plans with family and friends. The doctor agreed to allow me to postpone my date with the drip to 2 November 2010 🙂 . I was awake by 7am but didn’t crawl out of bed by 7.30am. All dressed by 8.30am. Prepared my cooler bag with ice pack to hold my 3 boxes of Neupogen injections. Neupogen is a clear liquid prescribed to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to help stimulate white blood cells production. It is very common for patients white blood cells to be very low when chemo drugs are administered. Hence, our body immunity is very low in the first week post chemo session and susceptible to catching colds or fever.
Arrived at the clinic before my appointment time. The nurse called for the external lab to send a nurse to draw blood to conduct a tumor marker/CEA test. It was a different nurse this time. Will she be gentle with me and not make me pull “that hurts” face. Thinking of happy thoughts to distract me and I braced myself as soon as she straps the small belt around my arms. She forewarned me that she is about to insert the needle. Took a deep breath while it is being done. I could feel the pinch into my skin and needle sliding into my veins. It was bearable pain. She filled 2 test tubes with my blood, applied pressure on the wound and put a band-aid. All over in less than 10 mins. So the waiting for the results begins. It is supposedly take around 1.5 hours to complete the test. Since I skipped breakfast that morning, I left to fill my tummy with some food.
My sister and I were back at the clinic waiting to see the doctor and study the results. One of the first data the oncologist scans for are the CEA markers and any abnormality numbers in white/red blood counts or liver functions. These abnormality would be highlighted in red. My CEA markers has reduced by 10% from 28.4 to 26. Always happy to see the numbers reduce. A normal persons CEA markers is between 0 to 4.7 ug/l. As you can gather my markers are almost 6 times higher than an average non cancer patients. From my understanding at this point, the cancer cells were very active multiplying. We have to put a stop these cells breeding! Once the doctor checked my blood pressure, any other physical signs of side effects, I was given the nod to start the chemo.
Being the second session, I was fearing that the nurse would have a tough time with my small veins again. It was a different nurse who attempted to poke the needle. She tried with my left hand first. A vein was found that could be good enough perhaps. Sprayed the antiseptic and she attempts to poke me. Felt the first poke but when she tried to push in a little further, I yelped! Sigh, that hurt and a failed attempt. The nurse panicked. I should be more nervous than her. Another nurse stepped in to help! She had to pull out the needle and stop the bleeding. I will have a bruise from this 😦 . Time to switch to other hand. The second nurse attempted and tried a few minutes to find a good vein. She felt a few and now deciding one would be the ideal one to use. She is hopeful that it would the one. Needle goes in. The nurse waits a few seconds before she tries to push the needle in a little more. No screams of pain from me means it’s good. Alas, it was a success. Everyone breaths a sigh of relief.
Whipped out my Kindle to read my book. Around an hour into my treatment, I was feeling drowsy, barely keeping my eyes open. After hearing about the vein expedition, the doctor came in to check how I was. Not long after that, I dozed off. It was a deep 1.5 hour sleep. The nurse had to wake me up to tell me that it was over.
When I reached home, the tiredness feeling was still lingering. Climbed into bed and napped for a few hours. I am happy to have cycle number 2 ticked on the calendar. The next 7 days is when I am confined to home nursing the side effects of the chemo.
Thats it from me for tonight.