Friday, May 18, 2012

Chemotherapy: Round one

Honestly, most of today was spent staring at the ceiling or looking at the inside of my eyelids. One of the drugs they gave me, and it was the one that took the longest, triggered an allergic reaction where my head and hands went red, and started to inch furiously. The answer was benadryl... and let me tell you, 25mg of that on an IV and I was in la la land in no time. I was on the verge of snoring by the time they racked the second batch of the stuff and hit me with a steroid to help suppress the reaction before starting up the drug again. I think I spent most of the morning in a content cat nap.

Before I go on, there are two thing I want to talk about. The first is the treatment room itself. the place is stocked with reclining chairs that just invite you sit back and take a nice long siesta. And let me tell you, that's what a lot of us did. The staff there were remarkable. Some of them kind of got on my nerves with their presumptuousness, but the nurse overseeing my specific care was absolutely wonderful.

Second, as you have probably already read about yesterday, I had a less than pleasant encounter. Turns out that the nurse who took the sample works for a pathologist's office, and not the clinic. Also, none of the nurses like her. The real eye opening came when the head nurse walked by and said, "but who told you about all of that?"

I blinked at her. "What do you mean, 'who told you'? I was there."

The nurse shook her head. "She gave you Versed, that should have wiped your memory of the whole thing."

When I originally wrote this post, I thought they had given me a pill, but after talking with my wife... I realized that it was an injected dose, several times more powerful than the oral medications traditionally given.

 Versed is given specifically to give patients short term amnesia around the time of a procedure. Ethically, they are supposed to tell you about it, but there enters the catch 22, if they don't remember, how can they complain.

To make the magnitude of that mistake clear, I locked eyes with the heard nurse, fixing her with a glare that told her how mad I was and said "five foot six inches, gray hair in a pony tail, about 140 pounds, hazel eyes, blue scrubs with a surgeons one-handed not on the right side of the top, running shoes, and the bedside manor of a silver-back gorilla."

The woman looked back at me with a slack jaw, realizing that she had just made two mistakes. The first was assuming that the drug had worked. I had just rattled off a detailed description of the nurse, too detailed to for someone under the effects of Versed to have recalled 20 hours later. The drug didn't work, and now she knew it.

The second mistake, and I think it took her a moment to put it together, was telling me that they had given me the drug... From that point forward, I made them name each and every drug they give me, a practice that I should have done yesterday, but didn't, the result of fatigue.

Believe it or not, I'm not overly upset over this mess. There is a quote in hockey that goes "no blood, no foul", they tried to cheat the system by making me forget how much the procedure hurt. It didn't work, and now they knew it. And more to the point, they know I know it.

If I see Versed in my chart one more time, there will be hell to pay, and not even a doctor's title will shield him from that mistake.

In any event, the day itself was actually dull. No dramatic moments, no major disasters, no me passing out. I just sat there and either slept, or talked. I took my laptop, but didn't get anything done on it, no internet either. My wife brought me lunch, and that was about the size of it.

The end note to the end of the day was a minor emergency. There is a drug they give that is so toxic that if they get it on your skin they have to wash it off quickly. As she said that, the injector broke, and sprayed lap with the full contents of the material, soaking my legs. The nurse started to rattle off how they needed to get those closes off of me quickly and how I need to wash my skin and what not.

I calmly raised my hand, halting her mid-sentence. "Hazmat level-1 decon procedures. No problem, I've got this covered." I calmly disconnected my IV line from the pump stand, walked over to an empty room and closed my eyes, letting my fire department training come back to me.

-pull shirt with hands, make sure to keep the front off of face in case of any contamination

-undo pants first, starting with belt or clasp, then fly, Let fall, only use hands if necessary.

- step out and inspect feet for any obvious cross contamination, assume anything below the stain is now contaminated.

There were three big red spot on my upper legs. I turned my head and asked for rubbing alcohol wipes, which the nurse produced instantly. It only took about three minutes to clean all the spots off, and the rest of my legs and feet. I was in a hospital gown in minutes, and back at the treatment table while the nurse threw my clothing in a bio-hazard bag. All told, I was rather invigorated by the whole thing, and I think the nurses were a little flustered at how non-flustered I was... but, such is life. I called my wife a moment later and made sure to tell her to bring sweats and a T-shirt for me.

I didn't feel half as bad walking out of there as I thought I would. I was sore, and tired, but that was as much as product of the surgery and bone marrow tap the day before as it was the chemo.

Anticlimactic to be sure.... but after the week I had, dull worked for me.

1 comment:

  1. Hazmat decon... wow.

    How did they break the injector?