Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We have a plan!

Yesterday was a long day. I went to outpatient surgery to get my Power Port installed, inserted, and implanted whatever the proper term is. Was at the hospital at 730 a.m. and was home by noon. For those of you that don’t know, the port is like an easy access already started IV in my chest. Instead of jabbing me with lots of needles several times just to find a useable vein, they nurse can just go right to this port to draw blood or start my IV. This originally wasn’t going to be done until I was ready to start chemo, but the poor nurse had such a rotten time starting my IV for my last CT scan that she suggested it. I talked to Dr. Cancer about it, and he felt it was a great idea. Not only would it make my blood draws and injections easier, the small incision would have time to heal before chemo starts.

 I would like to point out, that I find it funny that I have been to the outpatient surgery area so many times over the last two years, that many of the nurses, PCA’s and other support staff recognize me. And those are the ones that remember me from previous visits, not to mention all the ones that know me in the OR area from Dad. They are all wonderful people and I appreciate them all. The wonderful Carolyn did my anesthesia again. She has been with me for most of my surgeries/procedures at this point. It is so comforting to have her there watching over me. I started waking up towards the end of my procedure and she was right there comforting me and making sure I wasn’t in too much pain. I think I was feeling the last few sutures going in, but I had a blue sheet over my face so I didn’t see much other than, well, the blue sheet. Dr. Cancer gave me a little more local anesthetic to ease the discomfort which was very much appreciated. They took me right back to my room without the usual stay in recovery. When you are just sedated you get to go home much faster! I ate my crackers, peed and got dressed and dismissed. Those are the requirements to go home, for those of you who are living vicariously through me. You have to handle food/liquid in your stomach without nausea, get up and walk a little without falling on your ass or face, and pee. This can be a little more difficult than it sounds, especially if you have just been “corked out of your mind” as my dear Carolyn puts it. But like a trooper I ate and peed and Mom got me home. I had my traditional after-surgery food: Idahoan loaded mashed potatoes. Again, sad that I have an after surgery tradition, but right after surgery, even a minor one, you are not supposed to eat anything really heavy, greasy or spicy to prevent nausea after your anesthetic. These potatoes are my favorites! Then, it was nap time!

After nap, we headed to my next appointment, to have a consultation with my radiation oncologist, Dr. Radiation. I love that The Hulston Cancer Center, where I will go for my radiation and chemo is designed to be so soothing for patients and their families. When I walked in yesterday, there was a guy playing the grand piano in the foyer. Inside Dr. Radiation’s office, there is a large glass aviary with about a dozen different species of finches. I could have sat there for hours and watched those little guys! I signed a bunch of papers and was guided back to the exam room. Once Dr. Radiation got there, we went over my medical charts and he went over what I can expect during my treatment, both the procedure and the possible side effects. I have to point out that now, the radiation used is much kinder and more gentle that was used in the past. I should come out of the 5 weeks of radiation with a little more than sunburn on my lower abdomen. Then he gave me another pelvic exam. I know that these things are necessary, but I have had at least a dozen of these since December. I am not complaining, they aren’t that bad it’s just a lot of them. I was thinking about having a revolving door installed or letting these people get frequent flyer miles or something. I left his office with a DVD of a 15 minute presentation of what to actually expect for my treatment and a handout of the possible side effects and how to deal with them. The video was very helpful. When the nurse handed it to me, she said “a picture is worth a thousand words” and this could not have been a more true statement! I had an idea of what I would be going through for this phase of my treatment through my own personal research, but to see a woman actually get situated on the table and a simulation of her treatment, eased my worries some. I also left with my appointment for the next day.

This appointment is to get my marker tattoos and get me positioned for the treatments. This visit is supposed to take several hours. The placement has to be exact in order for the treatment to be effective. I must add that unfortunately, the radiation that I will receive will NOT give me any kind of super powers. I am grossly disappointed in this and will write a strongly worded letter to someone, just not sure where to send it yet. After we got home, I had to ice my shoulder. The port itself was not hurting me, my shoulder and upper arm were. This was a little scary, only because it was very similar in location to the excruciating pain I had there after my hysterectomy. I iced it down all night, took some Motrin and a pain pill and right now it’s just uncomfortable, which I can handle. So, we have a road map for my treatment now. Radiation, external beam, brachytherapy (internal radiation) and a rest period will take about 10 weeks. Then chemo picks up and from what Dr. Cancer said that will be approximately 18 weeks. Dr. Cancer was not kidding when he said this was a year long process.

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