Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Round 3, Cycle 6, Day 2

Back at Georgetown for Day 2. I spent a nice evening last night with Jim, Elena and Tayrn, who fed me hamburgers, corn on the cob, potato salad, and beer. We also had champagne courtesy of Tayrn, celebrating a well-deserved, long-overdue pay raise. we stayed up longer than would should have, swapping stories and providing Tayrn the benefit of our age-derived sagacity. Jim didn't have to leave this morning until 6:30, so we got to sleep in a little. Still got my walk in, though. Got my coffee at Saxby's, but got a croissant rather than my usual muffin. I like to mix it up a little.

I do owe Elena an apology: in an earlier post, I implied that Elena sleeps until 10:30 every morning. Let me set the record straight. Elena assures me that she rarely sleeps past 9:30. I stand corrected.

My Bendamustine came early this morning, so it looks like I could be out of here by 10:30 (a full hour after Elena will have risen and shone) or so, which is nice.

My friend Dolly suggested in a comment after yesterday's post that having a port inserted would address my 'burnt vein' issues. For the uninitiated, a port is a device surgically inserted in the upper torso tied into the subclavian vein (Google it) providing easy access to the blood stream. Skin grows over it; the nurses stick the needle right through it. Of the three patients in this room right now, I'm the only one without a port. I don't have one for two reasons: my medical team has said I don't need one and I'd really like to avoid getting one until I really have to. Somehow--and I know it's just mental--I'm weirded out by the prospect of having the hardware installed inside me. I can just imagine waking up in the middle of the night stressing about it. One of the first things my friend Neal did upon finishing treatment for testicular cancer was to have his port removed--he didn't want it in him. I think I'd feel the same. So, again, it may be silly, but until a doc says I need one, I'll put up with burned veins.

Speaking of which, I think I'm feeling the little tell-tale signs that I'm going to lose this one, too. Just a minor tingling/burning sensation that portends another hard vein and accompanying bruising. Maybe I should have gotten a port.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

End of the Trial, Take 3

Well, here we are on the Tuesday of the sixth cycle of the third round of treatment.  I'm sitting in treatment room 11 and will be blogging somewhat in real time today. 

Today started well enough--I left early (4:45 a.m.) to get ahead of the traffiic and to get a little walking time in at G-Town.  Made it to the garage by 6:20. 

Jack the Bulldog, doing what Bulldogs do best.
As I wandered through the campus enroute to Georgetown proper, I was rewarded with a chance encounter with Jack, Georgetown's English Bulldog mascot.  He was out with his handler and I must say he is a magnificent Bully.  From a distance I wasn't even sure he was a Bulldog; he seemed too big.  After asking permission, I petted him.  He rewarded me with a snuffle and we went on our respective ways.  I hoped it was a good omen.

Got here, got weighed, got internet access, and got stuck.  Actually, for the first time ever, I got stuck repeatedly.  Jameela--who is very good--made two unsuccessful attempts to get blood out of a vein on the top of my left forearm.  Remember how I've told you in the past I never watch the needle go in?  Now I remember why.  I made the mistake of looking as Jameela was probing around on the second stick, trying to get a return.  Although the pain was minimal, the world suddenly got a little wobbly and a cold sweat started pouring from my forehead.  It didn't get any better as she switched to a vein on the back of my wrist.  It was a very disconcerting feeling.  Let's hope it's not a sign of things to come.

Remember last time I told you I was pleased because the vein we had used for infusing had held up?  Not so fast.  About two weeks ago, as I was showering (and you're welcome for that mental image [my soft soap scrubber is yellow, by the way] ), I noticed discomfort at and around the infusion site.  Pretty soon a brown bruise nine inches long and half an inch wide appeared.  The next day while we were horsing around, Robbie grabbed and pulled the arm, eliciting an "OW OW OW OW!" from Daddy that he at first thought was part of the game.  It still is sore, and I have no reason to expect anything different from this round of treatment.

I've got an appointment with Dr. Cheson in 40 minutes, so I'll post this and add more later.  Here we go.

10:55:  Back upstairs again.  Dr. Cheson is out of town, so I met with the lovely Catherine.  We chatted about her incredible 14-month-old son and my incredible 7-year-old son.  She then examined me--not much change, all still looks to be in order and on pace--and sent me on my way.  I also met with Pari, my trials coordinator, and discovered Liz and I had planned a vacation over the top of my next set of labs.  Pari's going to fix it for me.  I need another bone marrow biopsy and CT scan to see where we sit, and it is mandatory that Catherine do my biopsy.  She is an angel with the needle.

As I type this, I'm also partcipating in a high-level NAVAIR policy discussion on telework.  I love electronics.

Still waiting for the drugs to show up, so in the meantime I'll post a recent picture of Robbie.

Robbie McMichael--Triton
I need to concentrate on the meeting, so I'll post now.

12:30:  Teleconference is over and the Bendamustine is flowing.  It wasn't lost on me that I was essentially telecommuting to a meeting about telecommuting.  Kinda 'Inception'-like.  Still an hour out or so from the Benadryl.  Looks like a long day.  I anticipate a nap this afternoon.

Just had a thought based on my earlier encounter with Georgetown's Jack:   one of the many differences between Georgetown and LSU is that while meeting Jack on stroll through the campus is a treat, running into Mike the Tiger while crossing LSU's quadrangle would be a whole 'nother experience.

1:30 p.m.:  BENADRYL TIME!  Between the 4:15 a.m. wake-up and the benadryl now flowing into my vein, I don't expect to be conscience very much longer.  I toyed with the idea of drinking a bottle of "Five Hour Energy", but recieved medical advice to the contrary.  Side note:  my head is congested and I was worried about not being able to breathe through my nose as I slept.  I thought, "Wonder if I have any bendaryl in my computer bag?"  Then I remembered why I was going to be sleeping soon.  Duh.

5:30 p.m.:  Wow.  For all intents and purposes (or 'all intensive purposes', which is how I thought that phrase was said for many year), I just woke up.  Don't know if it's the early morning start or a stonger strain of benadryl, but that's the longest it's ever put me down.  I wasn't asleep the whole time--I snuck a couple of bathroom breaks in there--but I was out for all practical purposes.

Apparently there's another guy here starting the same trial I'm just now finishing up, and he'd like to talk.  I'm going to let the nurses know that I'm open for business again.  I'll let you know how that goes.

6:25 p.m.:  Just spent twenty minutes or so talking to Jesse, an African-American gentlemen a few years older than me, who is on cycle 1 of the same trial I'm finishing today.  He was curious about effects, etc. that I've noticed with this trial.  I told him he'd have to read my blog.  Not really--I gave him all the relevant info and will be sharing my blog address before I go.

6:30 p.m.:  AND, we're done.  Didn't get the last 30 mililiters or so of the drug due to technical issues, but I did get at least 1000 ml.  We're closing up shop for the night.   Sonia cleared the IV lead with the anti-coagulant Heprin, wrapped the site with 16 feet of gauze (roughly), and said good-night.  That's my cue to put away all the electronics and head to Jim and Elena's.

You have a great night.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sven and Ole Go to the Beach

As promised, "Sven and Ole [pronounced: Oh-lee] Go to the Beach".  (for max comedic effect, please read with a bad Norwegian accent)

Sven and Ole went to da beach one day.  Sven, he spread his beach towel out and started puttin' on de SPF 45.  Ole had different ideas.

"Hey Sven, I'm gonna wear dis Speedo svimsuit up and down da beach and meet some gurls!"

After about tventy or so minutes, Ole came back lookin' kinda sad.

"Sven, de gurls von't even look at me.  How'm I supposed ta talk to dem?"

Sven said, "Ole, if you vant to impress dem gurls, you should put a potato in your Speedo."

Ole thought that was a great idea and put it into action.  He grabbed a big potato from their lunch basket, put it in his Speedo, and headed down da beach.

After a few minutes, he came back.

"Sven, now all dem gurls is all laughing at me!"

"Ole.  You're supposed to put da potato in the front of your suit."

OK, there was the promised joke.  Hope you like it as much as I do (I love that joke).  So far all is still well with me.  I seem to have tolerated the chemo better this time, although on Sunday I was hit with a big hunk of low energy.  All seemed better yesterday and my going-on-two-month head/chest cold seems to be clearing up.

As I mentioned last post, between the cold and the bad wrist, I had gotten out of a lot of good habits and substituted several bad ones.  I've resolved to get back to the good habits and as down payment got up this morning at 5:15, did 30 minutes of yoga in the living room, followed by 10 minutes of meditation.  That's one in a row.  Let's see if I can keep this streak alive.  I'll keep you informed.