Second in-patient chemo experience

I will be taking much more detailed notes than the first time since I have forgotten much of my first in-patient experience. My oncologist said that that is not uncommon, but I find it frustrating never-the-less.

First day

Check-in went so quickly that I was in my new bed within 5 minutes of Tom dropping me off. Of course, that confused Tom; he waited for me in the admitting office for 30 minutes. To make my room more homely, I bought some paper flowers that Aunt Donna mailed me... very nice.

I think my roommate is dying. She has lymphoma, and they are trying to give her platelets. But, her body likes being low in platelets, so they just create these big bruises on her body. She is "confused"; the nurses and doctors and her family had a big meeting about how to change her drugs so that she is less confused. Her kidneys have failed, so she is jaundiced. She moans a lot, but they are quiet moans. She always has 2-6 family members with her, but they talk very quietly. The reason I think she is dying is because the doctor keep saying that things weren't going good, and that their primary function is to keep her free of pain.

I got started on my fluids at 11:30, and chemo at 3. Chemo ended at 6. The mesna started after 8. The nurse had no problems with my ports. (The last few times I had chemo, both ports were difficult to get a blood return from.)

My oncologist is out of town, so her colleague is treating me. He dropped by to discuss meds. It turns out that the oncologist only left meds paperwork for the anti-emetics, and not the other 5 pills that I take.

Tom stayed with me until a little past 8. Tom and I played skipbo, ate my hospital meals, and took naps. (Tom likes hospital food.)

Dad visited around 4 for a while. Aside from a book that Dad offered to loan me and the side-effects of Mesna, I don't know what we discussed.

Tom and I asked the nurse about finding an exercise bike for me to use. She hasn't found one yet, so no biking today.

I am a little queasy; I asked them to begin my Kytril a little bit early. I settled down to attempt to sleep at midnight.

Second day

I was greeted by the night nurse for blood work at 6am or so. Since I have a port, another nurse had to do it. She came by within 30 minutes. I'm still queasy. My blood work came back well; WBC 6; HBC/HCT 9.8/39.5; PLT 274.

I read a few technical papers; I didn't have all of the ones that I wanted, so I asked Wee Teck for them. Mom came to visit at 11 or so. She stayed until 3; we plays skipbo (Tom's new variant). We also split my lunch (I ate 1/2 a sandwich), and I napped some. Since I knew Bruce and Tom were coming, I wanted to make myself pretty, so I washed my face, brushed my teeth (which caused me to vomit), and changed clothes.

Bruce came to visit for an hour or so. Tom was also here; they talked about books Bruce had recently read. I'm not sure what we spoke about.

During Juan Carlos's visit, we answered quiz questions from a magazine that Mom brought with her. None of us did very well, but it also seemed that none of us knew the same information. Juan Carlos bought peaches and nectarines which have been very nice.

Tom stayed until 9pm, trying to help me eat some. I have lost my appetite. I'm not sure why. It could be the inactivity, the food offered to me, and the constant desire to nap.

Third day

They got us up before 6 to take the vitals. My WBC is 5; HGB/HCT is 9.2/29.0; PLT 320.

Sarah came to visit me in the afternoon. We played a couple of hands of skipbo. Karen came also, but got here right before the surgeon did, so we didn't get that long to visit. And Wee Teck was stuck in China Town traffic; he was going to drop by for a bit.

I took a shower and ended up vomiting. Between the lack of hunger, and the vomiting, this might be my chance to lose some of those 20 pounds. I haven't been able to chase down a bike yet; it seems that this might be a week without biking.

The smell of dinner turned my stomach. I had ordered salmon, thinking that Tom might like it. Tom ate the salmon in the visitors' room. He went out and got me a calzone later.

My roommate seems to be getting much worse. Her breathing is very loud, and she doesn't seem comfortable. Her doctors have started her on a morphine drip.

I spent most of my day napping or reading. Tom walks me around the floor during his visits. Sometimes I share my bed with him, and we just discuss how much we miss each other.

Fourth day (Thursday)

I vomited again today.

Karen and Matt visited me this afternoon. We spent most of the visit in the 2 lounges to give my roommate some privacy. We were informed that she (and her family) would be moved to a private room. I found it very hard, listening to the woman breath (her mouth is 10 inches from my bed). And, I felt guilty since I had to ask her family members every time I had to use the toilet since I had the window bed again. (I cried in the morning, due to be my discomfort at knowing my roommate's situation. One of the nurses saw and told me [after giving me a hug] that different people are here [in the hospital] for different reasons.)

We tried working on a puzzle that we found in the lounge, but I'm convinced it was either multiple puzzles, or many pieces are missing.

Lisa came for a quick visit, based on the weather. She brought a little stuffed animal and many stories about her eBay garage sale successes.

Wee Teck dropped by for a brief visit. He brought a meal for Tom who had already eaten my dinner. Wee Teck volunteered to set up my laptop so that I could surf the web.

Mom and Dad visited after a book signing for a book with whom I have been corresponding with one of the authors. They bought me a copy of the book, and a picture of the authors. We discussed the information that I got from the surgeon.

Last day (Friday)

Last day in the hospital!! I seem to only have energy between 10am and noon. Hopefully, this won't be true once I get home.

I vomited again today. It's the brushing of the teeth. I seem to be fine until I start to think about brushing my teeth. I think it might just be when my gag reflex is the strongest.

Tom got me home by 9:20pm. Nothing unusual in the check-out. As I was leaving, I saw members of my first roommate's family (the one with lymphoma). There were now 9 or 10 of them. Just waiting and comforting each other. I don't want to die that way. I'm not sure how I want to die, but having no awareness of life around me just doesn't seem right. And, it can't be healthy for my family. I haven't the slightest idea of how _my_ cancer causes death; perhaps I should look into this at some point.

So, what did I learn?

bulletIf the nurses and doctors say that they will be giving you enough fluids, LISTEN to them. I didn't the first time I had these drugs in-patient, and was not all that comfortable with the very frequent bathroom trips, etc. This time, I drank only enough water/milk to wash my pills down, and was much more happy.
bulletMy first roommate during my first in-patient chemo was difficult to deal with due to her TV volume, use of the bathroom, and her dissatisfaction with the nurses. I had an entirely different type of experience this time, and found it much harder emotionally.
bulletBeing home is very nice!

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