Tuesday, October 9th,was my last full day of school. I had to tell everyone that Wednesday would be my last day. I turned in all my paperwork for medical leave and the paperwork from my doctor stating what type of duties I could perform. I could only work half a day on Wednesday. I wrote a letter to the parents telling them that I was scheduled to start chemo the next day. Just before I left, I gathered the children together in my group and told them that the doctor told me that I had to stay home to rest to get better. I said that just like in the “Bear Hunt”, “I can’t go over it, I can’t go under it, so I’ll have to go through it”! I told them that I would miss them but I knew that Mrs. J. and the other teachers would take good care of them while I was gone. I hugged them all and then I left. I tried not to be emotional, but it was very hard to just walk out of there. I was glad to have finished the lesson plan for the week of Halloween, but it was really strange to know that I would not be there for it.
On Wednesday, October 10th, we met with Dr. P’s nurse and she went over the procedures for chemotherapy the following day. She gave us the side effect papers for the two types of chemo – Adriamycin and Cyclophosphamide or AC and the drugs to help with nausea that they give you before the actual chemo. She also gave me two prescriptions for nausea that I was supposed to use at the first sign of nausea – but she said that I may not need them. She then took Earle and Me over to the Infusion Center so that we could meet the nurses and see what it looked like. It was a large room full of recliners all around the outside walls. People were just lounging around hooked up to IVs. Some were sleeping, some were talking with friends and family and others were watching TV. They explained that I would get a free lunch the next day but visitors had to get their own. It didn’t look too frightening.
Earle and I left there and went to Scalped – a salon in Prince Frederick that works with American Cancer Society’s “Look Good, Feel Better” program, to find out about their free wigs. They gave us a few wigs to try at home and told me that I could have an appointment on Monday with the owner Margaret and she would give me the “Look Good, Feel Better” class and give me free make-up and see which wigs were a good fit. While we were there another cancer patient said that a Special Touch in Annapolis has a much bigger wig selection and that her insurance paid most of the cost. We had wanted to go there on my Birthday, but they are closed on Mondays. We decided if I was up to it we would go on Friday
We went out to dinner to for my “last meal” before chemo to one of our new favorite’s Ruby Tuesday. They have delicious tomatoes as side dish, a great salad bar and some lovely mocktails! I like the Tropical Sunshine and the Berry Fusion. I was worried about losing my appetite, nausea, losing my taste buds and the possibility of mouth sores and other scary side effects. We indulged in the Double Chocolate Cake – yum!!
Earle and I went to the Infusion Center at 9:30 am on October 11th. We were rushing to get there on time. Dana met us there and we waited about an hour before we got taken back. Hurry up and wait! My nose was stopped up and I was sneezing some – I had switched to Claritin because it is supposed to help with bone pain. But it doesn’t seem to work as well for me as Zyrtec. Then we finally got taken back and were told to take any recliner. We picked the back corner and got settled. The nurses checked my name and birth date and put a bar code on me!!! Very high tech. The nurse first accessed my port ( I put the numbing cream on my port at 9 am a half our before I was supposed to start – but it had worn off. The nurse told me next time to put a big blob on and not rub it in, but put saran wrap over top next time!!) It just pricked for a second and then it felt fine. They start with a saline drip and then they gave me a medicine to relax and a few medicines to help with nausea and vomiting later. They took my order for lunch – so many choices!!! Meanwhile Dana, Earle and I passed the time chatting and getting to know the nurses. We couldn’t get a good internet signal where we were, so the nurse suggested we move under the skylight. We were able to get a signal over there so we able to use our iphones and Dana’s ipad to surf the net to help pass the time. When my lunch came, Earle and Dana left to go to Panera for their lunch. My lunch was pretty good.
After Dana and Earle got back, it was time for the real stuff. The nurse checked my name and birth date again and scanned my bar code. The chemo was red – some call it the “red devil”, but another cancer patient at the center calls it the “red angel”. Unlike the other medicines that are given in a drip, the nurse pushes this one herself. Once that was done, it was time to head home. I felt tired and my legs felt really heavy when I up sleeping owalked out. They said for the next 3 days I had to double flush the toilet!!! So strange. She also said to make sure I kept hydrated and if I couldn’t drink for any reason I should come back for IV fluids. She said it wasn’t as important to eat as to drink – it would also keep me from becoming constipated. They also reminded me that my hair would probably fall out in two weeks – Dana said that she heard less than two weeks if you have thin hair like me! So I should be prepared. I came home and took a nap!!!Later, after my nap I shuffled into the family room and sat on the couch. Earle served me soup made by a friend and hot tea. I vegged out in front of the TV and started working on my blog for the first time. I made it through the first day Ok. I had some trouble sleeping – Earle ended n the couch because his slight snoring kept my from falling back asleep when I woke up to use the bathroom!!! Poor Earle!
The next day we went to the oncologist’s office for my booster shot – Neulasta. Neulasta is supposed to help boost your white blood count and decrease your chance of infection during chemotherapy. If I ever have a fever of 100.5 or more I am supposed to call the office immediately. If I am not careful I could easily end up in the hospital. So scary. Good news though! When we left the doctor’s office I got a call from my director. He found me a replacement job at Leisure Travel and I would start Monday! It was a relief to know that I would continue to get paychecks for a while.
After that, we headed to Annapolis to go to “A Special Touch” a store that specializes in wigs for chemo patients and other necessities for breast cancer patients. We had a fun time trying on the wigs! So many choices!!! We sent Katelyn pictures on her phone so she could help pick. Here are a few for your amusement!