January 7th, 2004.
Today I went to get a Rituxan
treatment, and what a ride!
The first thing that happened was I got
lost. Last week, I went to the hospital for my MUGA scan, and
I just thought the Rituxan treatment would be in the same place,
so I went there. They directed me to the Radiation Oncology Center
down the street, so I went there. They said they had no idea who
I was and didn't see an appointment for me, so they called my
doctor's office, and was told that they do the treatments right
in the doc's office. Good thing they're all in the same neighborhood!
So, I checked in at the doc's office, and presented my shiny
new insurance card. The company I work for changed insurance
carriers from CIGNA to Blue Cross Blue Shield on January 1st,
and I figured they'd need a copy for their records. That's when
I found out that my co-pay went up, from $20 to $30. It's not
that big a deal, and I paid up.
I grabbed a magazine and followed the nurse to a back
room, where I found the familiar overstuffed easy chairs and
IV trees. I was the first one there this morning and had my
pick of where to sit. I plopped down in the nearest one and
put a pillow on my lap so the nurse could set up the IV for
She had some questions for me about my past experiences with
Rituxan and drugs that were used in conjunction with it and with
chemo I'd already had. One of the questions she had was
about the drug given to me in the past to keep the nausea
down. I couldn't remember the name, and none of the ones she
mentioned rang any bells, so I told her she could get online and
have a look in my journal to find it. I told her it would be
under the first COP treatment I had, and in short order she
narrowed it down to my journal entry titled, "Chemo
Man". There it was: Torecan. She said she'd never
heard of it, so I told her to use whatever she wanted to try.
She also asked about any drugs they'd used for the Rituxan
treatment, and I remembered the Benedryl, cause it made me so
sleepy, and the two Tylenol.
Then I threw her for a loop, but I swear I didn't do it on
purpose. She asked if I'd had any problems with the Rituxan,
and I told her "nope". I wasn't thinking...
It had been over two years since my first Rituxan treatment (in
the update near the top titled, "More hospital").
In that very first treatment, I'd had a strong reaction
initially. The nurse at the time stopped the drip, gave me
more Benedryl, then started up the drip slower, and increased it
as we went along until I finished. I had no further
problems. The following Rituxan treatments over the next few
weeks were entirely without incident. I just forgot all
about that very first initial reaction. I should have
remembered and told her...
So, she set me up with the Benedryl and Tylenol, then started up
the Rituxan. By then, a few other patients had come in and
were getting set up as well with whatever their drips were.
One lady had a port, while the rest of us were getting it through
an IV. I was comfortable and reading a magazine, when I
started to feel just a tiny, little bit warm. I didn't think
too much of it though at the time. A few minutes later
though, and I started to really feel uncomfortable, and started to
cough strongly. The nurse came in to see what was going on,
so I told her.
She immediately stopped the drip, but now I was on a roll.
It came over me so fast, I just didn't see it coming. I got
really hot, and my face and throat started to itch as she called
out to the front desk to call 911. More questions and the
memory of my very first Rituxan and the initial shock to my body
from it flooded into my brain and out my mouth. It seemed to
make her a little angry that I didn't tell her before we started
when she specifically asked if I'd ever had any trouble with the
Rituxan. Oops. My bad.
It got difficult to breath, and I felt like I was about to pass
out, and she hooked me up to oxygen. I was having trouble
making intelligible words and there was no doubt I was in shock as
another person that works there took my blood pressure and
pulse. It all happened in just a couple of minutes and
scared the hell out of everyone.
By the time the paramedics arrived a few minutes later, I was
feeling much better. Not quite up to par, but I was pretty
sure I was going to survive, and was feeling even better by the
minute. The nurse was still looking pretty anxious
though. As they hooked up electrodes and took my BP and
pulse, she explained to them what she saw from her
perspective. She said I was pale, clammy and they couldn't
get my vitals, then I passed out for a little while. No
wonder she looked upset! I musta looked like I was about to
die for a few minutes there!
The paramedics wanted to take me to the hospital for a full exam,
but I declined. They suggested I really should go there and
get checked out to find out what happened, but I declined again as
I continued to regain my strength and composure. I knew what
it was already, as the first Rituxan treatment I'd ever had
flooded back into my brain. They had me sign a form that
said I declined to go with them, explaining to me that I was
'taking my life in my own hands'. I was okay with that, and
off they went to rescue the next person.
Just after that, the doc showed up and agreed with the nurse that
they wouldn't be giving me any more Rituxan today. I was a
little disappointed at that decision, as I really wanted to
finish, but I understood their concern and didn't give anyone a
hard time about it. They're the pro's and they know what
After talking with the doc, the nurse said we'll still do the CHOP
tomorrow, but the Rituxan will be done in a hospital facility
where they have all the necessary equipment to deal with any
emergency that might come up. She didn't want a repeat of
this morning's antics, and I couldn't blame her.
I sat there for awhile, letting the Benedryl wear off a little
before attempting to drive. When I got home, I was pretty
beat. I took a restless nap, got up and had something to
eat, then another nap. What a day!
Mom's coming out to visit and help with what she can. She
should be here within the next few days, maybe as early as
tomorrow, if she can get a flight out. I guess I should
clean up a little around here... Hehehe... the place is a
Tomorrow I'll get a CHOP chemo treatment at the doc's office, and
I'm sure everything will go fine. I'll update when I get
home from it, and let you all know how it went. See ya then!