First in-patient chemo experience

NOTHING could have prepared my for the fatigue of the past week. I don't know if it was the new drugs, the noisy roommate, the unappealing food, the sore leg muscles due to walking the right way with the PT, or the trapped feeling of being in the hospital for 5 days straight.

My day would begin either at 6 or 8am, when a nurse would introduce herself or himself to me. (I would sometimes sleep thru the 6am tending.) If it was 6, it was probably the nurse from the night before, so no introductions were needed. Blood would be drawn, and vitals would taken. I have low blood pressure normally, but I think I remember having one of the nurses concerned over a 96/40 reading.

At some point, the hourly trips to the bathroom would start. I know that my bladder needed to be protected, but did the IV really have to push THAT much fluid into it? And, IV fluids don't stay in the bladder for any amount of time; they seem to want to flow right out. To get to the bathroom, I first had to sit up... not that easy in the hospital bed. Then I had to identify where the 1-3 IVs were. For a fully sighted person, this might have been easy. For me, it could take minutes. Then, I would unplug the IV machine, and untangle the pole from the other wires on the ground at the base of the pole.

Once I made it to the bathroom, there was a 50/50 chance that my roommate would be there. (She would always be using the mirror, and not the toilet.) I would stand, crossing my legs, until she noticed me. (Crossing my legs might have worked when I was a little girl, but it didn't do anything at all now.) She would reprimand me for not making myself known. I would enter the too-small bathroom with my IV pole/machine, place my hat under the toilet seat, and tinkle. I had to measure the urine to make sure that my kidneys weren't failing. The hat (the measuring device) only seems to hold half of what my bladder does, which meant stopping in the middle, etc.

So, back to the bed for another 40 minutes of rest. If I was alone, I might nap, read/write email, work, or listen to my roommate's TV. If I had a visitor, I might nap or play cards. (Thanks for understanding, visitors!!)

During my 5-day long stay, I went from having enough energy to bike an hour for the first two days, to having not enough to eat in the later days. (Perhaps I would have felt differently if the food were more appealing.) I'm not a fan of exercise bikes [I like my own bike on a trainer], but those two rides felt nice. I think the fact that my IVs are from a port instead of my arms/hands helps a lot with making biking during that time pleasurable.

Some of my blood work came back indicating that I was anemic. The values were so low (when compared with the previous day's values) that the doctor ordered another test. Those can back fine. But, for a while, they were threatening with doing a 2-unit blood transfusion. They did give me a shot of Procrit, which is a man-made version of erythropoietin.

What did I learn?

bulletMake sure that your visitors don't mind if you take a little nap.
bulletEven though having the window view is nice, the other bed is closer to the bathroom.
bulletBeing home

Copyright 2003 The Shriver Family: Last modified: 01/06/04.