Ahhh yes, that mettalic taste in the mouth means you just had chemo….

Well, it is two days post chemo number two.  YEA, lucky for me, I am halfway through my chemotherapy regimen!!  Now I have that awful crappy taste in my mouth, and I am grateful that I have no nausea, but the only way to get the “dirty pennies” taste off of my tongue is to eat something stronger than dirty pennies.  I’m thinking really rich dark chocolate truffles sounds good right now.  Too bad the “food therapy” is only momentary.

So Thursday was an interesting day.  Started off early (8:30 am) with a cool lady, Cynthia, a U of M Orthotics Fitter.  She measured and fit me for a compression arm sleeve for the left arm where all the lymph nodes were removed.  Do I really need it?  Hell, I don’t know, but if  “Geeta the Great”  (my PT) said to wear it, I’m gonna wear it, or least try to wear it every day.  Can’t hurt I suppose, and the discomfort in that arm, underarm, and down my side is significant enough for me to do whatever anyone smart suggests. 

Then,  back to the U of M campus for:   Blood Tests,  appointment with Joan, Nurse Practioner,  and of course, Chemotherapy Infusion.  Somewhere in there I had time to go to the “U of M, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Patient Education Resource Center” which is a fancy name for a teeny tiny Lending Library for Cancer Patients.  A very small room with lots of books for people like me.  I loved this little place!  So much information and so little time.  I wish I could just ignore the world and readreadread all about all this business.  Cancer is pretty interesting on a cellular level and the treatment options and medicines are absolutely fascinating as well.  Here is something I learned while waiting:  “Toxicity from Chemotherapy:  …..Most drugs can cause nausea and vomiting by stimulating the chemoreceptor trigger zone and emesis center in the brain….”**  Wow.  Did you know there was an emesis center in the brain?  I sure didn’t. 

So, when I was finished with Super Nurse-Practitioner Joan, they moved my chemo up an hour, and it was quite a dash to get food and carry it to the infusion center.  Didn’t really care for that, I still think meals should be revered and enjoyed, even meals consumed in hospital cafeterias. 

Had to get to the different infusion area, the “Med Inn”.  Mary was my infusion nurse, and brought a load of meds to my tray.  Holy cow there was a lot of stuff there!  Here’s what I have in my notes:   Decatran, anti-emetic for the chemo trigger zone.  Aloxi, a long lasting (3 days) antiemetic which binds to the chemo receptors in the gastrointestional tract.  Benedryl, an antihistimine, “just in case” since I had an allergic reaction during the last infusion.  Zantac, I think to also prevent an allergic reaction.   And one more, Ativan…this is an interesting one….a sedative to prevent “anticipatory nausea”.  This drug prevents the development of patterns in the brain, like, oh, I’m here and I’m going to feel sick….it stops that pattern of thinking.  It took quite a while to get all those in, of course my quizzing Mary about every detail really took time, too.  But you know, she was so patient with my questions, and so incredibly detailed with her answers.  I really appreciate that.

About a minute after she walked away from initiating the first chemo med, Taxotere, I heard a  little panic in my voice as I called out, “Uh Mary, I’m having  a hard time breathing!”   This time the reaction was more scary than the first, but again, quick reactions by nurses go a long way to soothe the nerves.  She immediately turned off the Taxotere, came back with another medicine to counteract the reaction, and eventually got the drugs rolling again, v e r y s l o w l y. 

“Infusion.”    I don’t know why, but the word really does not set right with me.  Hot tea is “infused”.  But the idea of infusing my body with powerful medications…..   Maybe it is because I’ve never been sick before, but the concept is one that I still have to wrap my brain around.  I wish I didn’t have this need to understand, I wish I could just accept my doctors directions and forget about it.  Oh, there are a lot of things I wish right now.  But nevermind.

Finally, all the Taxotere was in and Mary was off shift, and apparently my brain took a little leave of absence because I didn’t even get the name of the nurse who started the Cytoxin in my IV. That was certainly uncharacteristic for me.  But by this time, I was kind of weary, and couldn’t focus on the beadwork I had been trying to do, got my laptop out and tried to write, listened to a “TED” lecture instead, and then I think I dozed off.  I think it was after 5 pm when we were all done, and while that would have been a short work day, it seemed like a long “hospital day”.

It all seemed so anticlimatic and kind of depressing.  But a lucky kind of depressing.  I made it through, and now I am halfway done.  If the universe is kind to me, I won’t have to do chemo #2 again. 


**Chan, Helen S. L.    Understanding Cancer Therapies.    p. 47.    Copyright 2007.    University Press of Mississippi.


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