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Chemotherapy, Round 2…or…The ABC’s of Chemo

Posted Mar 09 2008 12:00am

Today began my second cycle of R-CVP treatments.  The session began with the usual….”What’s your name?”….”What’s your birthdate?”…”What is your understanding of why you’re here today?”…….

“Today I’m here for Rituxan and tomorrow I’ll get CVP”, I said.

“Great!  We’re on the same page.  Have you started “P” yet?”……”Wait, maybe I should rephrase that”, the nurse said with a smile.

Of course, I knew what she was after but we both giggled at the way the question had been phrased….”Actually, since I’m drinking 96 ounces of water each day, it seems like the “P” never stops!” I said……then followed with the correct answer…..”P is for Prednisone and I take that tomorrow”.  This put a vision of children’s books in my head so I quickly added:  “and B is for Bendaryl which makes me sleepy, C is for Cytoxan which makes my hair fall out, V is for Vincristine which will make me constipated if I’m not careful and Z is for Zofran which keeps the nausea away.”

After getting a gold star for being such a smarty pants……..I became a problem child.  The reason that I got my port installed is because repeated IV’s and blood draws are hard on the veins in your arms.  In December, when I had four weekly Rituxan treatments, the nurses were able to pump stuff in but they often had a hard time getting blood out of me…..sometimes needing three pokes before they got what they needed.  The port, with it’s catheter directly in a vein, allows for easy access to a vein….for pumping things in and pumping things out… theory.  Today, the saline went in just fine but the nurse couldn’t get blood out in order to do my labs.  “Hmmmm…..that’s not good”, she said, ”Try raising your right arm…….try raising both arms…….try coughing…….I’ll lay you back and see if that helps”…….still no blood.  “Try turning your head to the right and take a deep breath…..Turn your head to the right, take a deep breath and raise your right arm…..oink like a pig”.  Still nothing.  It wasn’t until I got myself into this configuration that she actually got enough blood for my labs……


“Touchdown!”   :)

My bloodwork looked great and as the nurse started my benadryl drip, Larry got up to leave.  “Do you want me to bring you anything when I get back?” he asked.

“A is for Americano”, I said “which makes me happy”.    Coffee

I was a problem child when I had my blood pressure checked today, too.  On Rituxan days, they take my blood pressure every 30 minutes to make sure that I’m not having an allergic reaction.  Today, the machine went……pump, pump, pump…..then let the air out…….and then started over again.  One time it tried eight times before it got a reading……my arm was going numb!  There wasn’t a single time that the machine got a reading on the first try.  My blood pressure was fine…..110/70….I don’t know what the problem was.  Later, when Larry returned, I asked the nurse to check his blood pressure since his is high.  I almost made a bet that the machine would have problems getting a reading through his bulky sweater……but it didn’t!  It only took one attempt.  I guess I was just being difficult today.

Here’s a picture of the nurses’ station in the chemo room, as seen from my chair….

Nurses Station

…..the door on the far right is the bathroom……which I visit frequently……

…….and here I sit in my chair, with my pump……

Sit and Smile

I fill that water bottle that you see three times per day……96 ounces of water……which is why I visit the bathroom above several times during each visit.  The Cytoxan that I get on chemo days is very hard on my bladder so my job is to try to flush it out of my system… to speak.

The pump for my meds is on the pole on the right and the pump is plugged into an outlet in the wall.  A trip to the bathroom involves unplugging my pump and then scampering over to the bathroom with my “pump on a pole”.  My nurse congratulated me today on how skilled I’d become at this maneuver………”like you’re dancing with your pole”.  Well, you know where my mind went…..but I restrained myself and rather than giving her a pole-dancing demonstration, I sat back down in my chair like a good girl and told her not to give me any ideas!  She laughed.  We had a good time together today. 

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