It's now Wednesday, 1-30-02, and yesterday I got my second chemo treatment
which, as you may recall, is composed of:
This morning, I woke up about 7:45am and the first thing I did was get sick.
Paulette (my step-mom) had put a bucket for me to use near the bed just in
case, so there was no mess to clean up. All in all, it wasn't really
all that bad. I mean, I thought it was going to be like this:
sweating-all-over, green-face, reach-down-into-your-toes,
spew-it-all-out, and don't stop till the rest of Earth has at least TRIED
to pass through the digestive tract backwards!!! Sort of like after drinking 20 too many tequilas the
night before, then trying to get up for work the next morning. (one
of the main reasons I don't drink anymore...)
It wasn't like that at all. Instead, it was more like, "Oops...
I think that soda was bad. Yuck! Can I have
another?" Then I ate a bagel with raisins and cinnamon in it
and washed it down with coffee, like usual.
Now, I'm new at this, so I don't know what's next. I could be using
the first description by the end of the day, first thing tomorrow or by
the end of the week. But so far, this is easily manageable. Of
course, even using the second description, if I do it all day or after
every time I take a bite, it's gonna be pretty inconvenient, to say the
LOL! Bet you didn't think I'd be describing my vomit to you,
eh? Ha! Get
used to it! On THIS cancer journal site, we're
gonna explore the beast from this patient's perspective in detail.
Everyone always wants to know what it's like, especially those that are
newly diagnosed and care-givers, and I can't think of any reason it should
be a secret.
A little after 9:AM, I started to feel a little nauseated again, so I
finally opened up the bottle of Torecan
for the first time and took one. 10 minutes later, I had the hiccups
for the first time in years. They only lasted about 10 or 15 minutes
though. Two hours went by though, and the bagel's still down and I
Ok, back to yesterday. With my leg in so much pain from the Deep
Vein Thrombosis (blood clot),
this was the first time I couldn't even hobble or limp down the steps and
out to the car, let alone just plain walk. Instead, I took a
somewhat more circuitous route.
After talking to Candy about it, I'd decided to go out the back door
because the house is on a property that's just slightly more elevated in
the back than in the front (or the house is tilted - one of the two....).
Because of that, there are a couple less steps to go down that way.
I wheeled my chair to the kitchen steps that lead to the basement and the
back door, and set the brakes to keep from having an Evil Knieval
stunt. Next, I used my good leg to step out of the chair, crouched
and somewhat ungracefully let my posterior plop to the floor. Then I
scooted down the stairs on my rump, one stair at a time. (I learned how to
do that when I was about 2, I think... and it's just like riding a bike -
you never forget! ).
When I got to the bottom landing, I made the turn and headed down a couple
more steps toward the basement to open up a clear path from kitchen
to back door and finally stopped. I called out behind me, "OK,
you can get the chair down now." No answer.
"Hello?" Still no answer. Hmmm... She must have
decided to go out the front door with it instead and come around.
Hmmm... It sure is taking a long time... I hope everything's
ok... About the time I'm envisioning my mom tangled up in the
wheelchair on the sidewalk at the bottom of the front porch steps after a
terrifying fall straight out of a Hitchcock movie, I hear her wheeling it
up the driveway.
I set the brakes and instruct her to hold down the back of the chair while
I crawl/clamber/climb my way up into it, and it all works out pretty
good. The whole thing sure would have been a good one to submit to
America's Funniest Home Cancer Videos though! Ahhh... there's never
a camcorder around when you need it!
While I wheeled around to the front of the house and the car, she locked
up the house. While she's locking up the house, I get stuck in the
lawn. Sheesh... this thing needs wider tires, like the ones in my
souped up wheelchair pics! LOL!! Oh yeah! We're off to a
good start! Mom helps me get unstuck and to the car, and I hop my
heiny over from the chair to the front seat, buckle up and settle back for
a much needed rest. Since there're plenty of wheelchairs at the
Cancer Care Center, mom wheels my chair to the back yard to store it for
when we get back, and we're off to Ann Arbor. We pull up at McAuley
and the lady that works the front desk pulls a chair right up to my door,
I transfer into it via my one good leg and wheel on in while mom parks the
car. I gotta tell ya... Valet service is GREAT!
Just like always, the medical visit to the McAuley
Cancer Care Center started off with a blood draw, which is no big deal
at all anymore, and it went great.
I presented my red and orange cards to the cheerful, smiling young lady
working the blood draw desk, and we had a nice chat about the
weather. She said she hoped it would snow so she could go skiing
with her boyfriend. All of a sudden she looked very
uncomfortable. Then it hit me: I'm in a wheelchair and she'd embarrassed
herself. I got her out of it as fast as I could, telling her I'd
been water skiing plenty of times, but hadn't tried snow skiing yet.
Maybe when the blood clot in this leg clears up... yak, yak, yak...
By the time she'd finished with my paperwork she was smiling again, ready
for the next patient.
Mom and I had to wait a few minutes for my turn, as several other people
were there ahead of us. They were very somber looking, sitting there
quietly waiting their turns and staring at their shoes or some water color
painting on the opposite wall, while the nurses went about their business
of sticking in needles and sucking out blood. Mom and I passed
the time chatting and yukking it up a little. I'm not quiet, and
we're both a bit deaf. She commented on my beard, saying I should
have had Candy trim it while she was down this past weekend, but I told
her I'm on a roll now so I'm just gonna keep letting it grow wild for as
long as I can to see what it looks like. "Besides", I
joked, "the chemo will probably take it out soon anyway!"
I explained that my beard is so scraggly looking I'd never feel
comfortable doing this while I was working, attending business meetings
and dealing with customers and clients and such. I joked with her
that I'm going for that "Uni-Bomber" look (inspired by one of my
forum pals that saw the pic Casey took
of me - mom said that's a terrible pic of me - LOL!!). I just have
to laugh at the very thought of it! It always cheers me up.
She thought that the term "Uni-Bomber" was too scary, so we
settled for calling it the "Hermit" look. Hehehe... I was
delighted to hear a few concealed snickers from the other patients and
After one older lady finished up her blood draw, she headed toward the
door, but stopped near me and said, "You don't look like the
Uni-Bomber!" She was smiling and it always makes me feel good
to make the other people at McAuley smile. The others in the room
openly chuckled at the dialogue and now they were all smiling.
Great! Yep, it's true what they say. Smiles are infectious and
they're good for all of us. What can I say? I'm an instigator,
and proud of it!
Have one... They're free!
Next stop was my Oncologist's office for the exam. I rolled on in
and up to the admissions counter, peered over it from my sitting position,
and she looked up and said, "Hello, Mr. Cash!" I couldn't
resist: "Wow! Cool! Recognition! I feel like a big
shot now!" and we all had another laugh. You'd never know my
leg hurt like hell the whole time. And I've noticed that whenever
I'm laughing, I tend to momentarily forget it myself. It's good
A couple minutes later I was escorted into the exam area, where I got
weighed (lost 1 pound since last visit), temperature from my ear (normal)
then on to the exam room itself. I re-arranged the furniture in it a
little to accommodate the wheelchair, and a minute or two later the doc
First order of business: The Clot and The PAIN!
He examined my leg, asked lots of questions about it all, I volunteered
even more, and he said he was a little worried about it. By now, the
clot should have begun to dissolve, allowing some blood flow, and I should
have no pain left. Since that's not the case, it's time to find out
why. First plan to do that: He scheduled me for a CAT
Scan on Friday, 2-8-02 of my abdomen down to my upper leg to see if
there's something else in there blocking the blood flow from getting to
the clot to dissolve it. I'm sure he'll also be looking at any lymph
nodes or other abnormalities in the region while he has the chance.
Meanwhile, to control the pain, we went up to the next level of pain
relief in his arsenal: Morphine. The only time I've had morphine to
date was in the Knoxville hospital when they thought I was having a heart
attack. They shot it in through my IV and it hit me like a ton of
sponge bricks. It was scary to me because it happened so fast -
like, instantly. This time, it's a pill called, "Morphine
Sulfate ER" and they're 30mgs each. I have to take them
every 12 hours like clockwork and the doc said they won't actually show
any effect for about 18 hours, so it won't be a big slam the way the shot
was. That's good!
Next was the regular Lymphoma exam. First, he felt for the nodes
under my jaw back near my ears, then under my arm pits, just like he
always does. Each time, so far, they had felt reduced in size.
This time, he announced that he didn't feel any. I lit up at the
news! Great! He said he thought we should continue the chemo
treatments anyway, and I agreed. He wrote up the special orders for
it, as well as the 'script for the Morphine, and I was on my way.
At the chemo treatment area admissions window, I gave the lady my orders
and she smiled and welcomed me and started to say, "Have a
seat." But the "seat" part dropped off along with her
smile as she noticed I was in a wheelchair. I laughed and said,
"Thanks! I'm already having one!" LOL! Those
poor ladies... They must get some really touchy people.
I wheeled around the waiting area, greeting somber faces with a smile and
a hearty, "Hello!" while I went from table to table looking for
something interesting to read. (Yes Candy, I meant to take the
Social Security paperwork with me to familiarize myself with it, but I
just, plain, doggone forgot it on the dining room table. Oops... Bad
me! Mom re-scheduled the phone interview to 2-25-02 though, so I've
still got time). I finally settled on a Reader's Digest, parked near
a wall to get out of the way and flipped through it, looking for good
Two cannibals are eating a clown. One turns to the other and says,
"Does this taste funny to you?"
There was quite a crowd there yesterday; More than I'd seen there at one
time before. Still, I didn't have to wait very long before a nurse
came by to say she was ready for me. She said they'd run out of easy
chairs in the lounge and even beds, but since I was in the chair, and if I
didn't mind, she could set me up in the conference room. "My
own private room?! Absolutely! Lead the way! I feel like
a big shot now!" Hehehe...
Mom and I went to the conference room with the nurse and settled in while
she went to get the IV equipment, drugs, chemicals and associated paraphernalia.
She was back in just a couple of minutes and set me all up. First
she got the IV going with a bag of Sodium (Chloride? - Having trouble
recalling right now). Then I got the little, pentagon-shaped pills
that keep the nausea down. Next, she got the bag of Cytoxan
going, and then slowly injected the Oncovin
into the port on the IV tube. I'll take the Prednisone at
home for the next 5 days.
A woman came in wearing a St. Joseph's ID and asked if she could use the
copy machine. I told her it was OK, with me - I'm just a
patient. Mom said, "No, he's not JUST a patient."
(I'm special to mom - hehehe!) Thinking about my appearance:
scraggly beard, t-shirt with a few minor coffee stains, joggers and
slippers, I jumped right in and said, "Yeah! I'm not just a
patient. I'm here in disguise! I own this place! Yeah,
that's it! In fact, I own the whole county! Yeah! And
I'm thinking of buying the next county over!" More laughter
from all as she made her copies. Hey, I gotta amuse myself somehow,
Mom thought it would be a good idea to get my schedule into my Palm Pilot
then, and that's what I usually do while sitting in treatment after seeing
the doctor. There were a few to enter: Another blood draw on
Tuesday, 2-5-02, the CAT Scan on Friday, 2-8-02 and my third chemo
appointment on Tuesday, 2-19-02. I couldn't enter it though because
this time my right arm, instead of my left, was strapped down to a board
from just below the elbow to almost the ends of my fingers to keep me from
moving the area where the IV is doing it's thing.
So I told mom she might as well start learning how to work a Palm Pilot,
and guided her through the basics of turning it on, using the stylus,
getting to the main menu and then to the different programs. I had
her open up my date book and showed her how to access the monthly view to
choose a particular date and time for new entry. Then I showed her
how to access the virtual keyboard to type in the appointments. She
said it was a lot of fun, and I smiled and told her, "Wait... it gets
even better... "
When she'd finished getting the appointments in, I showed her the Graffiti
program that teaches you how to write directly into the Palm and she went
though the steps to learn that. Then I got her going on the fun
little game, Giraffe, which is designed to help you improve those writing
skills so that you can eventually take notes about as fast in the Palm as
you can on paper. She got a score of 95 on her first try, and I told
her that was pretty good for the first time she ever picked one up and
played with it. I told her if she was really good, I'd let her play
video poker on it. LOL!!
We had a lot of fun, and by the time she was done she said she wanted one
of her own.
About an hour after the IV was started, the nurse came in, unplugged me
from the finished drip and we gathered up our things for the trip
home. It was turning out to be a pretty good day so far, full of
smiles and laughter and good news concerning my lymph nodes, as well as
the promise of much needed pain control in my blood clotted leg with the
Morphine I was about to start taking.
As we neared the house, mom stopped off at the local pharmacy to drop off
the prescription for the Morphine. They said they had it in stock
and it'd be ready in about a half hour. We went back to the house
and I retraced my roundabout adventure through the back door, steps and
kitchen to get in. We told Paulette all about the day's adventures
and mom went back to the pharmacy to get the prescription.
You didn't REALLY think it was gonna be that easy,
did you? Neither did I. While she was gone, the drug store
called looking for her and said there was a problem. We told them
she should be about there by now, and they said they'd just let her know
when she got there. Hmmm... What THIS time?! I speculated that
the insurance doesn't cover Morphine or I've been cancelled again, and we
waited for mom to return to see what was up.
When she got back she told us that they thought they had it in stock, but
it was the wrong flavor. My doc wants me on a long-lasting Morphine
drug that they didn't have. Oh well, I was glad to be wrong about
the insurance thing. Mom called about 4 other local drug stores to
see which one had it, and kept getting the runaround. They all said
they couldn't tell her if they have it in stock unless she shows them the
prescription! We speculated that it's because it's a narcotic and
they're afraid confirmation to a stranger on the phone will allow a
gun-toting drug addict to know which store to rob.
We still thought it was stupid, especially after mom explained the
situation each time and still got shot down. Mom was getting pretty
frustrated, and I told her to do what Candy and I do: Ask for a manager
and burn his ear a little. She did exactly that on the next phone
call, explaining that, "My son has cancer, he's in a lot of pain, his
doctor prescribed this Morphine, I've already made a trip to a drug store
that didn't have it, called several drug stores that wouldn't tell me if
they have it without seeing the prescription, and I can't drive all over
the county from drug store to drug store trying to find this stuff.
I NEED to know if you have it so I can come get it!"
It sounded like she got her point across and he didn't fight it at
all. He checked, said he had it, she confirmed the address, and was
on her way. She's learning.
Pretty soon she'll be just like me and Candy!
It's now been 15 hours since I took my first Morphine, and the pain in my
leg is nearly gone. This just keeps gettin' better all the time!
Next: Meow !