Friday, May 30, 2008

Round 8


Well I'm in the hospital again for another round of IE (Ifosfamide and Etoposide), but this time it's outpatient. This is day two, and I have to say there's something much more pleasant about being able to go home at night. When you do the regimen outpatient, you go to the Infusion Treatment Area (ITA) in the Cancer Center, where you still get to stay there for the whole day (around 8am to 6pm), but 1) things start on time, because the ITA is only open for so long, and 2) you get to go home to sleep, even though you have to wake up early and come in again the next day. Yesterday they gave me a huge dose of Benedryl, supposedly for nausea, but it totally knocked me out for the day. It's kind of nice in a way, like the sleeping time machine effect that you get on long car rides - "Oh, it's going to take so long to get there . . . doze doze doze . . . huh? whuh? We're there? Yippee!". Still, I think it was a little much, so I asked for a smaller dose today. Still zonked me out quite a bit though.

So, besides that, there have been a few updates to Alex in Cancer Treatment-ville. I talked with my doctor last week about when the next scans will be. Most likely we'll do them the week after we come back from Hawaii (June 9). I'll be having a chest CT and a pelvic MRI. The treatment will continue through to the end regardless of how those scans turn out, but hopefully they'll give reassurance that things are working. In other news, I had a medi-port installed on Friday. Here's the type I had put in: The medi-port is slightly more invasive to put in - it's a minor surgical procedure, but once it's in, it just stays under the skin until the nurses need to access it with a needle. They insert it into the chest just below the clavicle bone, in my case on the right side. It was a little daunting going into surgery again, but I was basically awake the whole time. Unfortunately, though, they had a sheet draped over my head so I couldn't really see what was going on. The worst part, as usual, was when they injected the numbing medication, which ironically stings quite a bit. After that I felt some pressure here and there, a little bit of pain, and the pull of threads as they stitched me up. The site's been pretty sore and a little bruised the past couple of days, but that should go away soon. They actually use what is essentially medical superglue to close the wound. It's nice because I can shower without covering it, and eventually I'll even be able to go swimming with it once the wound heals.

As I finish up this post it's now actually day 4 of Round 8 (woohoo!). The predictability of this outpatient treatment is great - I've been out of the clinic pretty reliably around 6pm every day this week. This is in contrast to the inpatient rounds, when I might check in at 10am and not start treatment til 7 or 8 pm. Right now, it's less than an hour to go!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

PICC-free and 7 of 17 done!


Note: This post was edited and pics added on May 14, 2008.

Hi all - I know my posts have become less frequent of late, but that's actually a good thing I think. I've been more active in the last couple weeks, and the treatments have been going a bit more smoothly than in the past. I think the side effects of radiation have finally worn off, and the respite after cycle 5 has seemed to do my body some good, even though it was frustrating to be delayed so much.

I finished my 7th cycle yesterday and am feeling in relatively good shape today. This was a VAC cycle, so only two days, but the A for adriomycin usually kicks my butt pretty hard. This time around it seems to have been okay, although the two days was more like three, due to delays in getting the drugs started. We checked in for admission around 1pm, but they didn't hang the chemo until about 9:30pm - something about the pharmacy doing interviews or some BS, then the drugs got sent to the wrong place (same thing happened last time), but finally things got started. Luckily I only have one more cycle of VAC with the A - after that it becomes VC and only an outpatient visit for one day (boy can't wait for that).

The next cycle is an IE, but I'm going to try and do it outpatient. That means getting up butt early every day for four days and sitting in the hospital for 10 hours, but there's an upside: they get things up and running a lot more quickly, since the infusion treatment area (ITA) closes at 5 or 6pm, and I get to go home and sleep in my own bed (and not to mention eat non-hospital food). Plus the ITA has nice big windows and is very well lit.

In other news, I'm PICC-free now! Since I've been more active of late, my doctor said it might be a good idea to get a medi-port installed instead. It requires a minor surgery, but it goes in the chest and is under the skin until they have to access it. That means, no more shower sleeve, no more weekly dressing changes, and I can go swimming and use my arms more freely than I have been able to. I've been planning on going to my friend Mike's wedding in Hawaii in June, so if all goes well, I'll actually be able to participate in some water activities (woohoo!). Not that just being in Hawaii and relaxing (under an umbrella) on the beach wouldn't be nice enough. . . Still, it's always good to have options.

My mom took some pictures when they took the PICC out last night - it was actually completely painless - they just cut the suture and pull it out. I'll post the pics when I get them...

Here are the pics... (BTW, apparently there are only a few people who can actually deal with removing PICCs, despite the fact that it doesn't seem to require much more than the ability to use a pair of scissors to snip the suture and use your fingers to pull the thing out. None of the nurses on the floor were able/certified to do this, so they had to call in the "crisis nurse", who apparently wanders around the hospital solving crises.)

Pulling off the dressing.

PICC with no dressing.

Pulling out the PICC.
The removed PICC!!!

No more PICC! (Yes, I'm smiling on the inside.)