Monday, December 22, 2014

"Draw the Line"

At Virginia Mason getting another round of Rituxan right now.  We've played around with the timing and dosage a bit and I finally can do my chemo as an outpatient!  I get double the dose at a time and then I only have to do it twice every six months instead of four times every six months.  Last time (end of May/start of June) we got it done in 7 hours at a max rate of 400mL/h by increasing by 50mL/h every 30-60 minutes with no adverse reactions and just my normal I pre-meds of solumedrol (steroids), Benadryl, and Tylenol.  Today I had a reaction once we hit 250mL/h so that will likely be the max rate of the day.  Thankfully my reactions come much slower and less intense than my initial reaction.  I just get very dizzy and light headed, and then I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest and I breathing becomes very difficult.  At that point my nurse stops my infusion, gets me on Oxygen, and pushes more solumedrol and Benadryl.  My body starts to calm down and over the next half hour or so I have less and less trouble breathing and I start to get a bit of color back in my face.

During my chemo infusion I alternate between being incredibly sleepy, and incredibly wide awake!!!  Sometimes the Benadryl makes me want to doze, other times the steroids have me wired!  When I used to do inpatient overnight stays I could never sleep because of how much energy the steroids gave me.  We couldn't even find a sleeping aid that would keep me from trying to coax all of the nurses into playing jump rope in the hall with my IV tubing. night I spent almost an hour trying to convince them to do that with me...

Every infusion location is different.  The one at Virginia Mason has both shared or private "suites".  I always am given a private one because my infusions last so long.  This time I have a window in my "suite" AND my chair isn't broken!!!  I have a tiny TV but I always bring my laptop and Netflix because when I say tiny, I really mean tiny!!  I'm not allowed to go walk around or cause trouble because I do have reactions and apparently chemo is a pretty intense drug...who knew!  When dealing with it the nurses have specific protocol and equipment that helps protect them from it.  At some places they even make you flush the toilet twice after you urinate if you're on chemo.  It's very strange to see people be so extremely careful to not so much as touch this drug, yet I'm sitting here with an IV of it being pumped into me!

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