19. Chemo: Round 2

The pack has some down sides.  It makes noise, not really noticed unless the world is quiet, like in sleeping or meditation.  It’s certainly an awkward thing to be strapped continuously to a fanny pack.  Sponge bathing only for 48 hours, regardless of how sweaty I have been from yard work.  The machine has worked perfectly for two rounds…

Wpexels-photo-1350560hen one goes to the infusion center, each person has different things happening.  Some people have an IV.  Some people get a standard shot.  Some stay seconds and others hours.

My chemo package has three different infusions that are specific to the colon cancer.  One of the three has some overlap to the type of cancer in my uterus, but mostly not.  That second type of cancer responds more to radiation.  

The first thing that happens (beyond all that temperature, blood pressure, weight stuff) is a blood draw and urine sample.  They actually do rush lab tests before mixing up the chemo in the pharmacy.  It is amazing to think that this stuff is being handled so quickly, and they constantly apologize for the time it takes. 

The blood draw is done through the port after it is cleaned by running clear “disinfectant” through the tube (Trump reference, poor guy, there was some accuracy in those specific misspoken words).  The pin prick to the port hooked up a short IV-like, outside the body, tube that they work with for the next two days.  

For me alone, they start with a short infusion, maybe twenty minutes. It drips down from one of those clear bags like in all of the doctor shows.  Then the machine beeps, and the nurse changes the hook up to different infusion that lasts for two hours.  Then the last bag is in a portable pump that is hooked up for 46 hours.  That one travels home with me, and is in a fanny pack.  It can hang out near me, or I can wear it like a purse or pack.  There is a tube that runs from the port to the pack.  I usually put the tube inside of my clothing so it doesn’t get hooked on anything or pulled out by Nyasha’s leaping, energetic Corgi, Leo.

I don’t have limitations on my actions.  I can do whatever I feel like doing.  Nurses act like people stay still in their homes on the two days, but the drugs they give to avoid nausea are, what I am calling, “Wonder Woman” drugs.  They create a high.  Steroids.  Don’t know.  But it is high energy, low sleep, lots of ambition, for the end of the first chemo day, the next day, and the next.  That’s when the pack is trailing along on every adventure. 

The pack has some down sides.  It makes noise, not really noticed unless the world is quiet, like in sleeping or meditation.  It’s certainly an awkward thing to be strapped continuously to a fanny pack.  Sponge bathing only for 48 hours, regardless of how sweaty I have been from yard work.  The machine has worked perfectly for two rounds… but if things go awry, there are all of these warnings about rushing to Urgent Care and treating leaking chemo as a toxic waste emergency with gloves and special bagging and such.  

When I visit again two days later, they literally unplug the machine, clean the port line with more disinfectant-not bleach, and then take the needle out of the port and send me on my way, about 15 minutes max.

Author: Michele Plumb Stowell

Michele Stowell was a teacher, a hand holder, and encouraging voice. Born an early Gen Xer, she has lived in Western Washington for the duration. Her children, two spectacular genetic daughters and an uncountable number of marvelous scout and school sons and daughters, shine as her biggest impact and her greatest blessing. Just before her 54th birthday, Michele was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Her writing and art work are expressions of the drama and the joy of living earth bound. On October 24, 2021, Michele was released from her physical body, transported to continue her work on other realms.

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