Thurday’s Appointments

Well, I had three appointments today designed to get me ready for chemo next week.

The easiest was the echo-cardiogram. Since I’ll be taking Adriamycin (or Adria or The Red Devil or Kool-aid, as the nurse educator calls it), there will be risk of damage to my heart muscle. We want to make sure it’s okay now.

The procedure is just another ultrasound, but since the waves go deeper, the transducer is smaller. And they didn’t press on the tumor, so it was real easy. But the best friend of Joy, the technician, had been in a serious accident very recently, so we spent most of our time talking about her. I realized how lucky I was to “just” have cancer.

Then I talked to Dr. Dan Johnston, a health psychiatrist. We sorta knew each other–he ran a workshop on using the labyrinth for meditation at St. Francis. (St. Francis has a cool labyrinth, If you’re in Macon and want to try it out, let me know; I certainly could use time walking it!) I think I got brownie points for already thinking about spiritual issues and trying things like the labyrinth.

All in all, it turns out that he things I’m handling things fairly well so far (yes, Charlie, I fooled the psychiatrist!). I need to be hardy and resilient. He gave me a paper with the 3 C’s of hardiness (challenge, control, and commitment), the 3 P’s of pessimism (personalization, pervasive, and permanence), and the key features of resiliency (sorry, David, no 3 letters–they’re attitude, stress management, and participation in life). So being a bitch^H^H^H^H^H strong willed woman may help me get through this. Going back to work so soon after surgery is a sign of “participation in life,” f’rinstance. (Not “pig-headedness.”)

And I’d already done lots of the stress management exercises he suggested. The American Lung Association had a great tape for relaxation to stop smoking and I’d done classes at the Wellness Center in Gainesville ages ago. I even have Daphne Stevens’s CD for stress reduction. Now, can I find it? That should be stressful!

Of course, after I told him “Now, I’ve got a crappy sleep pattern. I’m only sleeping 4 to 5 hours a night, so I’m exhausted in the afternoon and nap for an hour or two, which makes it hard to sleep more than 4 to 5 hours a night,” he told me sleep regiment was important. (Excuse me gentle readers for the next line.) No shit, Sherlock.

We talked about how this may not be as hard as finishing a dissertation. Ask Charlie about that sometime. I was too tied up in it to remember much.

But, it’s good to have Dr. Johnston around. I’ll see him again before the second chemo session (and much sooner if the PET scan goes poorly).

He also gave me a “Patient Companion” full of lots of info. The bad part is it has monthly planners for your treatment. Twenty six of them! So, I may not have it too bad with just 6 treatments.

I spent a bit more time with Lori, the nurse educator. She’s a warm, encouraging woman, dedicated to making the experience as good as possible for Charlie and me, but she’ll rip my throat out if I start running a fever that I don’t tell her about. She’s out to protect me from everything, even myself.

Details? Adriamycin, Cytoxan, Taxotere (and assorted supporting drugs) on treatment day, Neulasta the next day. A regiment of other drugs I’ll have to stick to for best results. Side effects? Hair loss, nausea, vomiting, mouth sores,… oh com’on, I’ll tell you when they happen, okay?

There’s one shot she wants to give in the belly, so all those times that IkeGetDownFromThere has decided to jump to my stomach and either hang (since he has a better view from there) or start climbing may have some positive results. I sure didn’t flinch when she suggested it and apparently others do.

The treatment room looks like someplace I can spend a couple of hours. Little cubicles, chairs for guests, a recliner for me, the ability to move around if I have to. (Again, thanks Red Cross! All that practice giving platelets is sure making this look easy. I can even use two hands here, so will have my crocheting and Game Boy.)

And Lori tested my port. I had to have blood taken and it looks like it works just fine. She got upset when I didn’t take a deep enough breath when she stuck the needle in, but she just doesn’t understand how little needles bother me.

She shouldn’t worry; I’ll find plenty to be bothered by.


1 Comment »

  1. susie vanderGlas said

    I see your quite strong this too is really good as you know during this chemo time… There is light at the end and it will be here before you know it …. Be Blesed As Always Susie v

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