Second Verse – Not The Same as the FIrst

The day began well.  I had tons of energy on my walk with Kevin.  Although it was dark and rainy, I needed this walk to get my game face on.  I was feeling very positive, likely as a result of the good new from yesterday. We didn’t have to be at the hospital until 8:45, so there was lots of time.

I packed my computer, my books, and my health journal.  I also packed some cheese and crackers thinking that would be a good snack for this six hour chemo.  By 8:15, Kevin and I were off.  Kevin dropped me off to park the car and I walked confidently into the chemo suite to register.

“Is it busy today?” I inquired of the receptionist.

“Is was nuts this morning, but it has since died down.” she replied.

I was tagged and invited to sit in the waiting room where I would be called to my chair.  Yes, I chuckled at that one under my breath. Moments later Kevin arrived. Moments after that I was invited in.

It was chair 22 this time – in a more open area where two nurses serviced six clients.  No one in that area was on their first chemo.  This was the “pro” section.

“No reactions to the last medications, Stacey?

“None.” I happily replied.

“How are you feeling?” asked the nurse.

“Great. I feel great.  I had no nausea last time, but I have had a head-ache.”

“Okay, well let’s get you ready to go then.  First a saline flush, followed by Benadryl and then your Tamoxifen.”

“Let’s do it! ” I said with a jump in my voice. I was ready.

I heard over-head a variety of other statements my fellow poison – consumers were making to other nurses.  And relaxed, I was entertained by them. “I have chemo brain.  Thanks for dropping in.  Why is the sky blue?  My legs are restless. Everybody’s different. Should we wear gloves when we clean the toilet? It will be in your system for 72 hours.  Your stools will be different at first.  This drug is like a vitamin rescue.  Will I feel anything?  I am a pic line virgin.”  I chuckled and thought, “this will make good fodder for today’s blog.”.  I was ready to be hooked up so that I could get out the computer and begin.

But that was not to be because five minutes into the Tamoxifen, things went terribly wrong.   I began to feel ill.  It started in my stomach and then the heat progress to my face.  It took less than five seconds.  I thought my face was going to explode.  “Excuse me.” I interrupted the  nurse.  “I think I am having a reaction.”

“Oh, yes you most certainly are.” affirmed the nurse who had not left my side, just in case.  “Okay Stacey, we are going to stop your chemo and give you another dose of Benadryl. It will work quickly and you will feel better as quickly as you felt the reaction.  Can you breathe? Just take deep breaths.”

“Fuck!”  I said in my indoor voice.  “Okay.” I breathed in my outdoor voice.  I had never felt like that  before.  I was terrified.  I quickly turned to my “I am in child labour” rhythmic breath in and breath out.  I focused on my breathing.  I still think that’s a ploy to get to distracted – but it worked and although it seemed like hours, it was likely only minutes that the explosions in my face began to subside.

“I’m going to give you another dose of steroid that is a longer lasting one.  You won’t likely sleep tonight, though.  Are you okay with that?” the nurse inquired of me.

I looked at Kevin whose face told it all.  He was watching intently to what was happening.  I knew this look.  It meant I am being brave, but what is going on?

“That’s find.  Inject away.” I said in my outside voice.  “Just please don’t stop the chemo.” I begged inside my head.”

“We will delay your chemo until I speak with the doctor.  We will either stop or proceed with the chemo.  I have to wait until then.  Are you okay?  Your face looks better.”

“Yes.  I feel much better.  Almost normal – other than the panic.  I think my blood pressure is way up due to the anxiety.”  I explained.

The nurse took my blood pressure.  Yup.  Elevated.  But that was to be expected.  Over the next ten minutes or so while the steroid was being administered, my blood pressure lowered.

“The doctor said to re-start the chemo, but drop the speed.  Are you okay to try that?  I’ll be here.” queried the nurse.

“Let’s do it!”  I said.  “I know you can help if that happens again.”

And away we went.  I watched the clock.  At the five minute mark, I felt a slight heart palpitation and increase in heart rate, but then, it left.  The drugs had worked.”

Eight hours later, Kevin and I were in the car coming home.  And this was to be my time allotment from then on as the next chemo would be slower and there would be additional drugs administered before the chemo.

“Kevin, I am so grateful that you were there today.  I was so scared.”  I announced to Kevin.

“I’m glad I was there for you, Stacey.” he replied.

And we drove home in silence.

I had a shower to wash off the hospital smell and to try to get rid of my head-ache with comes after, what the had explained, an anaphylactic reaction – similar to a bee sting.  “Your body had had the poison before and didn’t like it.  So this time, there was anticipation and it wanted to FIGHT.  You will likely have this reaction again – but we will be ready.  You need to have some Benadryl at home, just in case.”  I recalled the nurse saying to us.

Bed has never felt so good.  Indeed, post chematic stress disorder kicked in.  This second chemo was definitely more of a challenge.  But what better place to be than in a hospital was caring and attentive nurses by your side?  The good news is, I know the chemo is worked and I CAN continue my regime.  I WILL beat this disease – even if it kills me!  Well, maybe not the right choice of words, but you get my drift.

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About inmycorner

This blog began as an opportunity to tell my Dad's stories. I sat with him and the computer and together we told stories. It was a wonderful way to get to know Dad. He was 9. He and Mom had a wonderful life together and since she passed away a year and a half before him - Dad was ready to join her. I no longer tell his stories but have found stories of my own. The impetus to resume this blog was the discovery that I had stage 4 ovarian cancer. Since blogging had been so therapeutic for my dad and I to get through our grief, I felt maybe this would be a good outlet to process my situation. I also hoped it may serve as an outreach to anyone else who is facing this very ominous journey. So far, so good.
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24 Responses to Second Verse – Not The Same as the FIrst

  1. hopebringsstrength says:

    I’m sorry that today presented challenges and unexpected fear. I cannot even begin to imagine how you are feeling. Right now you need to allow your body to HEAL…give it Rest. Wrap yourself up in that beautiful quilt and allow that great partner of yours to man the ship. Writing and reading might have to wait for a better day, so give yourself permission to take a day off and HEAL. Much Love

    • inmycorner says:

      Thank-you, overall I was just happy that I could accept the chemo. It amazes me that side-effects can be so controlled! Thank goodness for the quick-acting nurses and knowing exactly what to do. I WILL rest – you bet. much love back at you!

  2. Gwen K says:

    So glad you were taken care of so quickly. Just goes to show that your body is in “fight” mode. I agree, let Kevin take the reigns for now – you know there are many friends willing to pitch. In where we can too. Please allow your body the time it needs to recover from today’s “poisoning”.

    • inmycorner says:

      Yes! My bloodwork was so good today – on one hand that ‘s a good thing, on another, it posed a few problems. And, yikes, now I know what a bee sting reaction feel like! Not nice.

  3. Gallivanta says:

    Yikes. How scary was that! However I am glad you were able to continue with the chemo.

  4. kiwiskan says:

    not the best day – but good that you were able to carry on. I’m allergic to bee stings, so I have an inkling about how you felt. Sounds like they have a pretty good team at that hospital.

  5. Janine Baines says:

    Oh Stacey. What a day…. I am going to have Carmen read your blog, if that is OK. On monday she starts her extra courses in oncology to have an additional degree. She said oh mom that nurse probably never even thought about the dead remark when I read her your post. It is such a common phrase. It will give her insight into what you are going though and she might just have to use you for a paper or two. You are a trooper. Love to you both. Xoxo.

    • inmycorner says:

      That makes me very happy that she can use my material. How cool that she is studying oncology – and yes, the nurse slipped for sure. Didn’t offend me. Trooper – I will agree. Today took a lot out of me – and the nurses said I handled that very well several times. Love to you too, my friend!

  6. Karen says:

    It’s a good night for some Netflix. Have you watched house of cards? I mean, if you’re going to be up all night you might as well be entertained.

  7. How scary!!!!!!!!! I like your inside voice honesty! And your control for your outside voice. The nurses sound like angel warriors themselves, ready to make sure your battle is supported and safe as can be. I hope you’re sleeping right now!!!! Kill that cancer!!!!

    • And Herman’s Hermits would be honored, I am sure, with the play of words in your title. 🙂

      • inmycorner says:

        Ha – yes – I am confident they would like it too. Quite frankly – I couldn’t remember where that line came from. Bravo!
        It was scary – and the nurses are angels! I have so much faith in them it makes my journey so much easier.

        I hope people “get” my indoor voice is my “inside my head voice.” I think I suffered ffrom chemo brain yesterday – and clearly again today!

      • “I’m Henery (misspelled on purpose) the Eight I am….”

        And I thought it was very clear that your inside voice was your in your head voice.

        I thought it was very poignant.

      • inmycorner says:

        Ha!!!!! Right! I can’t believe you put that song in my head now – yikes! I’ll be singing that all night – and, “phew”. Thanks for your honest feed-back.

      • You’re welcome. For the feedback and the musical accompaniment for the night. 😉

  8. Rita says:

    I felt my own blood pressure soar while reading this! I had been texting Kevin to check on how things were going. The man of “as few words as possible” did mention a reaction, but that everything was ok. It wasn’t until I read your account that the word “reaction” came to life. Sooooo glad you were able to continue with the chemo … and sooooo glad Kev was with you.

    Thoughts and prayers and wishing and hoping like crazy from so far away. xox

    • inmycorner says:

      Yeah – that wasn’t fun. Guess Kevin didn’t want to worry you and in all honesty the nurses were amazing. I can see, however, how people with bee allergies are really at risk as they don’t necessarily have the opportunity to have Benedryl within seconds coursing through their veins. I am now a firm believer in Epipens. Thanks for your thoughts, Rita. And yeah – me too — soo glad!

  9. M Hefkey says:

    Stacey, I think of you daily and wonder how much more God can throw at you. I have always admired your strength and I know you will fight the good fight. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you continue to battle this!

    Love, Maryann

    • inmycorner says:

      Thank-you so much, Maryann for those kind words. I wonder too – I guess we all have our own crosses to bear and this is my “THIRD biggie in four year”. So that should do it I think! Oh, boy, I wish I had strength – I just think it is blissful ignorance for the most part – what else can I do but fight? I have too much to live for! I am so happy that you have taken time to reach out and read my posts – it is comforting to have you along for the journey. Thank-you for your thoughts and prayers.

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