It’s 3:30am on Tuesday, May 31st. That means I slept for a whole 3 hours 🙂 it also means that I made it through my first day of chemo! (Well, not technically..but close enough)
Yesterday we arrived at Cancer Treatment Centers of America around 8:30am to check in for my first inpatient week of R-EPOCH chemotherapy. The nurse took us to my room which is pretty nice! It’s on the stem transplant floor and there are only 4 inpatient rooms on my floor..and I’m the only one here this week. It’s also a holiday weekend for Memorial Day. I think they said I was actually the only patient in the whole hospital who got to be admitted today. Which means it’s slightly deserted, but also means quick attention to whatever I need at all times. 🙂 we got all settled in my room which includes my bed, lots of counter space, a big tv on the wall, 3 little cabinets with drawers and hangers to put stuff away, a pull out couch, my own fancy exercise bike, big bathroom and a recliner. Not gonna lie, I was kinda excited as if it were a little vacation hotel or something 😂 here are some pics:
After waiting a while, my nurse came in and was ready to access my port for the first time to draw blood and be ready for chemo once the drugs were ready. Accessing my port means putting a needle through the thin layer of skin on my chest and into the rubber part of the port. Once it is in, it is secured in place and covered up and that it how they draw blood and give me all of my medications. It goes directly to a major artery by the heart so it mixes with the blood quickly. This is the thing I had been really nervous about because I thought it would hurt a lot. They gave me numbing cream to put on before I had even gotten to the hospital so the whole car ride there I kept putting it on my chest. And then the nurse put on even more 😂
After a while it was time. I sent all my family out cause it made me too nervous but my awesome Oncologist, Dr. Pawloski, stopped by to see me right in time and held my hand while the nurse put the needle in. I was squeezing and holding my breath and bracing myself for a bit stick….and guess what?..I didn’t even feel it! And I didn’t even cry 😁👍🏼 she taped it all into place and I was so relieved!
The nurse asked me a ton of questions, drew some blood from my port and the food lady came and took my order for lunch. This place is amazing in so many ways, but a big on is that they have the best food! It’s not a creepy cafeteria where everything just smells like a hospital, it’s all organic and healthy food choices and they gave me a menu of choices for the day. I chose roasted chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes 🙂 and Italian ice. My parents brought me back Panera and I let Gunnar eat it and I ended up eating the hospital food instead 😂
After waiting for more hours for the pharmacy to send up my chemo drugs, they finally started the first bag of Rituxan. This drug is the newest add on to chemo for patients who have different types of Lymphoma, especially the ones with Double Hit Diffuse B Cell Non-Hodgkins like me. It has been extremely positive in the lowering the relapse rate but also has been known to cause bad reactions in about half of the patients. Sure enough a little bit after they started the drug, I started having a reaction with my throat being scratchy and feeling funny and my head was itching really badly. The nurse quickly stopped the drip and gave my benedryl and a steroid. It helped almost instantly and made me feel like I had a few Margaritas 😂😁 She started the Rituxan drip slower this time and it seemed to be ok. I just could only tolerate the drug at a slower rate so it took a few more hours to finish that first bag. Good news is, my reaction was mild compared to people who get bad flu symptoms and chills. Also, I only get the Rituxan once a week, so now I’m done!
Finally around 11:30 pm I was ready to start the next round of chemo drugs. This time it’s 3 different ones together at once and the infusion lasts about 23 hours. They gave me anti-nausea meds before and another steroid, and some other stuff..once they begin, the nurse carefully monitors me for the first 15 minutes to see if I have a bad reaction to the drug. And I didn’t! 🙂 yay! My iv pole has a lot more stuff on it now so I have to call the nurse anytime I want to go to the bathroom lol so I don’t accidentally tip my pole over 😁
Around midnight we turned out the tv and lights and tried to get some sleep. My mommy stayed with me for tonight. Good thing I brought a ton of ear plugs because my iv machine makes so much noise lol. I finally fell asleep for about 3 hours. I just woke up a bit ago because the nurse rubbed my arm and wanted me to use the bathroom 🙄 and check my vitals. Now I’m wide awake so I decided to update everyone!
Also as a side note, this place literally feels like home. My nurses are the best and I completely love my doctor. I know I am getting the absolute best care. I have never been left alone and the nurses are constantly checking me and respond as soon as I hit the call button. They are all so sweet and never make me feel bad for having to pee every 30 minutes lol it’s calm and happy here and I feel safe ❤️
Time to get back to sleep as now it’s 4:45am. Looking forward to having a couple family and friends visit tomorrow. Thank you to everyone who has been following my journey. I really appreciate all the prayers and sweet notes I’ve been getting!