Monday, December 12, 2011

Chemo, check

After a sizeable blog hiatus, I am happy to report that I am officially FINISHED with chemo!  I had round 4 last Wednesday and I finally have enough energy again to be ecstatic that I never (knock on wood) have to go through chemo again. 

Having gone through the previous 3 rounds,  thought I had this whole thing figured out and knew exactly what to expect.  I was wrong.  First, round 4 was the worst, by far.  Everything, from our time in the waiting room to getting blood drawn to the IV to the chemo itself went wrong.  It was a completely different experience from the first three, which were as pleasant as chemo can possibly be.  Second, this round completely knocked me on my heiney.  I was really optimistic that since I felt so good after round 3 that this last one would go as smoothly, but again, I was wrong. 

Here are some of the highlights of the ways in which #4 was very different from rounds 1-3.
  1. We spent an extra 1 1/2 to 2 hours waiting with round 4.  Just waiting. 
  2. I didn't get the same lake view room I had in rounds 1-3.  How spoiled am I that I was a little bummed out that I was "stuck" in one of the interior rooms without windows?  I still had it pretty good -- they were apparently pretty busy, so they almost had me out in the general area where about 4 patients share a cubby with recliners.  Again, I'm so spoiled that I liked having my VIP room.
  3. The phlebotomist drew my blood from my elbow rather than my hand and left me with a nasty looking and sore bruise for a good week and a half.  I had the same phlebotomist each time (she is a sweetheart), so I have no idea why I had to get a bruise this time.  I even brought her cookies.
  4. I didn't have the same nurse I've had since the beginning.  I was doing my best to stay positive even though Charlie and I were both a little cranky about how things had been going, but I was actually very upset.  I loved my other nurse.  She did such a good job of making me feel relaxed and comfortable.  I also felt like she listened to me when something didn't feel right. 
  5. The IV went very, very wrong.  As in the nurse "made a mess" (who says that??) and I bled all over, and then wasn't sure if she was in the vein, which she explained is a problem because the chemo drugs can give a person a third degree burn if they leak outside the vein.  She was nice and all, but it didn't exactly instill a lot of confidence in her abilities.  Oh, and she was in the vein -- whew!
  6. After the IV debacle, things went well again until the chemo "push."  My other nurse always asked me to tell her if it hurt, because that is an indication that the drugs were being pushed too fast.  When I told my new nurse that the push hurt, quite a bit, she said that it was because she was trying to do two at once and that, basically, I would have to just live with it.
  7. After I told the nurse that the push hurt, my blood pressure dropped really low and I spent what felt like forever but was probably closer to 15 minutes fighting the urge to pass out.  The nurses finally decided that I should roll over onto my side and I started to feel better after about 10 minutes.  One of the nurses, who used to work in labor and delivery, said that the baby was likely in a position that was pressing on one of the big veins behind the baby.  That's all well and good, but my understanding is that this is only an issue when pregnant women lie on their backs, and I was sitting almost straight up when I started to feel faint.  I am 99% sure it had to do with the way the chemo was administered, but I bit my tongue because I was glad I was feeling better and just wanted to get it over with.  Oh, and my new nurse said that she thought I almost passed out becase a snuck a peek at all of the blood all over my had and the sheets from the IV. 
  8. I had one good day after round 4 (Saturday) when I felt pretty good, and than I felt like I had been run over by a truck until this past Friday.  Even then, I could only make it at the office from 7am to 2pm and I was completely done.  We had a cocktail party last night and I was a little nervous we would have to send out a last minute text cancelling, but I felt pretty good most of the day and even made it till 1am.  Granted my back and feet were killing me by then (I kept meaning to sit down and put my feet up ...), but it was a great time and I'm more than a little proud that Charlie and I could pull it off.
  9. 
    We went to Lincoln Square for dinner with friends on my one good day.
    
  10. I felt significanly more "fogginess" this time around.  My short term memory has been seriously impacted, so I'm doing my best to write everything down so things don't fall between the cracks.  
  11. We took zero pictures!  Between the frustrations and drama we completely forgot to document my final trip to the chemo ward.  As silly as it sounds, I'm disappointed I have no pictures from my last day to look back on.  Then again, bleeding and almost passing out don't make for good memories.  I did find pictures from round 3 that I had forgotten about, though.
An awesome card I got from law school friends

Pre-chemo breakfast at the best breakfast place ever

 
Totally unnecessary, but a shot of Charlie's ridiculous french toast

Thumbs up for chemo being almost done!  And see that blanket?  My sister-in-law AND brother made it!  I have the pictures of my brother hard at work to prove it. 
I'm not ruling out having a few more not so good moments or days in the next couple of weeks until the drugs are out of my system, but I'm cautiously optimistic that the worst is over.

My sweet aunt made me a cancer cape that is signed with messages from the Walker side of my family.

I LOVED this!  Unfortunately I don't have any shots of me wearing it at the hospital :(

Because this ended up being a loooong post, I'm going to call it a day for now.  But keep an eye out for mor posts: losing my hair (finally!), one long "thankful" post, and reflections on my experience to date, to name a few.

9 comments:

Mary Margaret said...

I wish I had told you this every day since your diagnosis but I am so proud of you Kirsten. You are such an inspiration and I (like so many others) feel utterly blessed to have you in my life.

Love,
Mer Mar

Anonymous said...

kirsten,
You are amazing! Also, your loving husband seems wonderful. You should let him watch walking dead on netflicks during the week.
-a caring supporter

Peg Schneeman - Reagan said...

Kirsten,

Skill and customer service apply to nursing too! Share your experience with your doctor....was not right. You are a trooper! I love the belly photos. You are so adorable! Can't wait to meet baby G! Happy Holiday! Love Peg

Ysmael said...

keep kicking butt...

Anonymous said...

Kirsten, you story is amazing and your husband is so supportive. I think the best Christmas present you could give would be to let him watch the walking dead on Netflix. It would be a great first show to expose baby G to. The character development is incredible and the violence is not overwhelming.
-another caring supporter

Carissa.mulder@gmail.com said...

Keep fighting, Kirsten! I am so happy your final round of chemo is over. You are so awesome!

Christine Mahler said...

Kirsten,
Your strength and positive attitude is an inspiration. Thank you for sharing with us! I can't wait to come visit and meet Baby G--and catch up on everything I've missed!
Much love,
Girl Chris

Kristin said...

Kirsten,

So happy to read this update this morning. I am sorry that round 4 wasn't as pleasant and I can totally understand your frustrations even with the smallest of differences as they can make an impact. However, you are such an inspiration to so many people, myself especially. I hope you and Charlie and Baby G have a wonderful Christmas!!! Miss you!

Kristin

Aunt Kathy Mac said...

Kirsten,
Not sure if you'll get this comment before Baby G arrives tomorrow, but I was reading some of your blog again and just wanted you to know how proud we are of you and Charlie, and how excited we are to see the new addition! We're praying for you a ton!
xoxoxoxoxo,

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