Whew! My first chemo-immuno-therapy treatment is over, done and dusted, in the history books. It was everything I expected and not at all what I expected, all at the same time.
Dr. S, my oncologist, and my Michele, my nurse are simply wonderful. Dr. S filled me on the drugs and how they worked and what the side effects would be. She went over the results of the FISH test, which revealed that I have a Trisomy 12 defect in my lymphocytes. This means that I have an extra gene in chromosome 12. It's a definite marker in CLL/SLL, and it predicts an Intermediate prognosis for the success of treatment. She also explained, clearly but compassionately, that there is no cure for this kind of cancer. The treatment will put me in remission, which can last for years before the cancer comes back. Ideally, it'll last about 30 years, because by then I'll probably be ready to shuffle off this mortal coil.
Michele handled my Chemotherapy Education session last week. Joe came along, because four ears are better than two and two minds (albeit without a single thought*) can remember more than one (specifically mine). Michele gave the details on the process, what would happen when, and how long it would take. She gave me two scrips for anti-nausea drugs (Compazine and Zofran) and told us how to handle the resulting constipation. Yes! Side effects from the drugs for the side effects of the drugs!
Tuesday was the Long Day, so I packed for the weekend:
- Snacks and lunch
- Anti-nausea drugs
- Power cords for the laptop and my phone
- Earbuds for the laptop and phone.
I. Was. Ready.
I got my pick of recliners and chose the corner chair right by the four outlets. I plugged in my laptop and phone immediately and connected to the WiFi.
I signed lots of consent papers. Then I got hooked up to my Faithful Robot Friend and Constant Companion. First I got three different bags of different anti-nausea drugs, then a bag of Benadryl in case of allergic reactions, then a steroid. And then finally, the Big Kahuna, Rituxan. This one took the most time because it's dripped very, very slowly so my lymphocytes don't explode too quickly. Finally, I got the Bendamustine, which just zipped right into my vein.
Well, the WiFi kinda sucked, so I switched to data on my phone for all the important online stuff. In fact, I didn't use my laptop at all, so cross that off the list! I mostly read on my Kindle and played games on my phone, when I wasn't napping. I actually napped quite a bit, the kind of nap where you doze off until you realize your mouth's hanging open and wake up enough to shut your yap.
I snacked too - no loss of appetite, at least - and navigated with my Robot Friend to the bathroom and back several times.
Six and a half hours later, I was free. I also got a cool bag of chemo swag, donated to the patients by a nice group of chemo care folks. I got a neat tote bag, a pen, a pair of fuzzy socks, hand and body lotion, and lip balm. Oh, and propaganda on the organic body lotion/lip balm, but I'm okay with a commercial in exchange for so much swag.
I felt a slight twinge of what could have developed into nausea, so I popped a Compazine before bed. Good call!
Today was very different. No exam, just head into the infusion room. Michele, bless her, saved me the corner chair. But this time, I only brought my Kindle and journal, so I only had to plug in my phone. This treatment was just the Bendamustine, the zippy one, so I was all done in less than an hour!
Joe came with me both times. He went home on Tuesday - I kinda made him - but he hung out today. We went and had second breakfast at a diner, then I just came home and chilled for the rest of the day.
I've mostly just been tired. My stomach is behaving itself so far.
I reserve the right to work at home tomorrow - or even take another day.
So get to work now, chemo-immuno-therapy!
*Two pats on the head if you can tell me which comedy duo the phrase "Two minds without a single thought" refers to.