Shrink, flush, gooooone

by punchmommybelievesinlife

My chemo regimen went like this:

Admitted on Monday – Met with doctor early morning to make sure I was doing ok. Had blood drawn to make sure my counts and levels were ok. When I got the go-ahead I went straight to admitting office where I waited with baited breadth for news of whether they had a bed available for me and when.  The admitting office once asked me if I had a reservation. Excuse me?

Once in my room, Mom, DH, and I let every nursing assistant, nurse, intern, resident, fellow, and doctor know that I had arrived. The nurse had to go through a long admissions process, which included asking me ludicrous questions such as whether I felt safe at home and if I was the victim of domestic violence. I was most certainly a victim of tumor violence but sadly, those questions were never on their lists. During this time, Mom and DH meticulously went through the orders, making sure that all my orders were written properly. They also started the daily mantra of what’s the status of the chemo? Is it on the floor yet? When will arrive? When they tired of this, they put Operation Prevent Infection into full affect  and wiped down every surface in my room with disinfectant wipes. 

After these admission rituals were completed, I shuffled or wheeled myself to the nurses station where I started to inquire about the placement of the femoral line. The chemo is too toxic to administer through a vein in your arm so it needs to go through a larger artery. I could not have a port or a PICC line placed, which is what most people have, because the tumor was in my heart and the doctors were worried about blood clots and other other issues. That meant that the next best option was to shoot the chemo up my groin.

The femoral line was placed by the fellow on service that day. Each fellow was fully vetted before given the “ok” by my team. I always asked for more lidocaine because I really didn’t want to feel them threading the catheter through my leg. They were always happy to oblige. With the sterile sheet up over my head, I would hum. Sometimes it was a children’s song from one of Little Man’s many CDs but most often it was Three Little Birds by Bob Marley.  And so, with plenty of lidocaine, Ativan, and tears streaming down my face, I faced the placement of six femoral lines, one every three weeks. The worst part was feeling blood dripping down my leg. They always told me it was saline, but I knew better when I saw blood stains on my sheets.

Once the femoral line was in, I was all set to get chemo. First bag was Rituximab. I asked DH what is was once and he started to tell me something about it being grown on rats or something crazy like that. All I know is that it has changed the world of chemotherapy and greatly increased the effectiveness of many chemo regimes. I’ll have a heaping spoonful of that, thank you very much. The Rituximab drip took about four or five hours and after that came the real cocktail. The Etoposide, Vincristine, and Doxorubicin were mixed into one bag. It looked like diluted Kool-Aid, fruit punch flavor. I took 100 mg of prednisone by mouth, which was the worst tasting pills I have ever had. The pharmacy sent up 10 mg tabs once. Was that a sick joke? I gaged all 10 pills down and Mom quickly put an end to that demanding 20 or 40 mg tabs. Can you believe they just sent up 10 pills? What the hell are they thinking? Cyclophosphimide was last. It was pushed, given in 30 minutes. Unlike the others, I could feel this circulate through my body. It was most toxic of all I’m certain of that. I needed the lights off and no talking while I got it. It felt like the worst kind of pins and needles pricking me all over my body. I even felt it in my brain and scalp. This only last about 30 minutes and when it was all over I released the breath I was holding on to for the previous 30 minutes and and prayed that it was the knock out punch that I needed.

And so I laid there in the hospital bed wishing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday away as the chemo slowly dripped through the tubing, into my groin, into my body, where tt was picked up by my blood and circulated from my head down to my toes. Killing, killing, killing the tumor, the bad cells, and flushing them all away. I did this six times, every three weeks, from October, 2012 through February, 2013. I spent most of my time staring at the walls and trying to meditate instead of cry.  Mom said, use your energy for healing  so I tried and meditated on the words shrink, flush, gone and visualized the chemo flooding my body, shrinking the tumor back and then flushing it away. Sister said, worrying is like praying for the things you don’t want. She’s right, but how do I not worry? Too sick to read, watch TV, or use my phone, I sat with my thoughts. What could I be doing instead? Where would I be?  Why am I here?  Will this be enough? What if the tumor comes back? Get out of my heart! Get out of my heart! GET OUT OF MY HEART!

Don’t worry about a thing,
Cause every little thing gonna be all right. 
Singin’: Don’t worry about a thing, 
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!

Rise up this mornin’, 
Smiled with the risin’ sun, 
Three little birds Pitch by my doorstep 
Singin’ sweet songs Of melodies pure and true, 
Sayin’, (This is my message to you-ou-ou:) 

Singin’: Don’t worry ’bout a thing, 
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin’: Don’t worry (don’t worry) ’bout a thing, 
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!