Thursday, March 28, 2013

Treating what Ales you

I've been off on some ranting side trips here lately,  so thought it was time for an update on the wonderful world of Oncology.  Yep,  still getting random very expensive chemicals dumped into my body on a weekly basis.  Was closing in on being done with my treatment regime,  until going off & getting the Flu this week.
Turns out that if you nuke your immune system back to the stone age with Cyto-Toxic drugs,  things like Flu Vaccines are pretty much rendered superfluous.   And as a bonus,  that flu stuff seems to REALLY kick you when your immune system is down.  Finally feeling semi-human again after 4 or so days of Sweating/Chilling haze.  Fevers are ALMOST as much fun as recreational chemicals! (Not)   And,  you get to experiment with yet more of modern pharmacology's best new attempts.  What side effects does Tamiflu have?  We'll see soon enough.

Prior to the lovely,  and out of season visit with this new virus strain,  I was doing pretty damn well,  Getting out to ride in the good weather,  and getting slowly thru my 8 rounds of Mutant Mouse Antibody treatments every week.  For those of you who have never had any exposure to the joyful world of an Oncology Chemo Treatment room,  here is a quick look into a world you really never want to see.  Given my treatable disease,  short duration and lack of side effects,  I feel like an interloper in there,  considering what so many others have to go thru in that room,  but it has been an eye opener,  to say the least.

Once a week,  you block out most of your day,  and go visit the Treatment Room,  usually after paying  your Hematology "Entry Fee".   That Blood draw and CBC the Blood Docs just can't seem to function without.

Then,  back to "The Room".  Cheery enough,  but still not anywhere you really want to hang out.

For me,  unlike a lot of the folks who get the "pleasure" of visiting regularly and have a Port,  I get a regular IV each week.

After getting the IV in and a flush of saline,  You get a few bags of "pre-meds" as almost ANY of the drugs they give for Chemo & other treatments can have infusion reactions,  so they load you up with IV antihistamines to minimize the chance of an anaphylactic reaction to any of the infused drugs along with steroids for the anti inflammatory and immunosupression effects.  For myself,  I get a cocktail of Tylenol capsules (the Rituxin can give headaches..),  IV Dexamethasone for my steroid,  and IV Zantac and Benadryl for the antihistamines.

Given the many bags of Benadryl and Zantac,  it's no surprise that many,  if not most of the "treat-ees" have those lazy-boys in full recline and are sacked out.  Nothing Like IV Benadryl to make you a bit sleepy.   After a 45 minute or so infusion time for the pre-meds,  I get a BIG bag (Like a Liter...) of Mutant Mouse Stuff.   That gets a very specific infusion schedule,  starting at 100 mL/hour,  and ramping up each hour by 100 mL/hour to a 400 mL/hour rate.   Takes 4 or so hours at best to get that big bag in.    You can get up and move around,  as long as you take your IV pole with you.    My treatment center has a nice little snack area and I LOVE taking my pole for little walks to get snacks and heat up my lunch.  Outside of that,  reading,  net surfing and napping are the real attractions for the day.  Once you have sucked up all your anointed juice for the day,  a quick flush,  IV removal,  and out you go.

I do have to give some props to two great bunches of people.  First,  the patients I have met in that room have been 100% great,  positive & fun people.  For some reason,  cancer patients have some of the best attitudes I've ever been around in a medical treatment environment.  The only people who eclipse the patients are the Chemo nurses who run the room.  Sweet,  caring,  funny,  knowledgeable,  supportive.   I have more respect for these ladies and what they do than can be put in words.  They love what they do,  and are FANTASTIC at it.  You can call them anytime,  and they have the answer for you.  Stellar people,  doing incredible things.  

The good thing for my treatment is that it has minimal side effects,  and up until the flu laid me out,  I was getting some good riding in,  get some base in place so that when I quit poisoning myself each week,  I might be able to start trying to make up for a year of broken blood and get some fitness going for MTB season.  I was able to catch some of those REALLY nice days before that last round of snow mudded all the trails up.  Even got to see some of my Wild Turkey friends.

Was riding enough to start to think I was almost a cyclist again.  Sadly,  it turns out that riding by yourself can lead to some "mistaken impressions"  of where your fitness might really be.  Any notion of having ANYTHING going in the riding department were quickly squelched with one group ride.  Boy,  do I have a LONG road back to reasonable,  or even functional level of fitness.  Going to be a long and suffering filled road back.   I can't wait.

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