On November 20th 2018, I underwent surgery to place a port on the top left side of my chest. The port is used to administer pre-meds, chemotherapy, and even draw blood. When the surgery was finished the doctors left the port accessible (meaning a 1 inch needle was left in the port) for my chemotherapy infusion the following day. This sounded scarier to me than it actually was. Maybe it was the anesthesia, but I pictured myself rolling over in my sleep and puncturing myself to death. Yes, that may be over-exaggerated but having a needle right over your heart makes you think these things. Thankfully, my doctors assured be it wasn’t possible.
November 21st, 2018
The following day of my surgery is when I received my first chemotherapy infusion of Docetaxel A.K.A Taxotere. Before the infusion, the chemo nurse checked my weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature to make sure we’re good to go. Then, she brought me to a recliner that I would sit on for the next few hours receiving my pre-medications, and then chemo. The pre-medications that I have to take with Taxotere are Dexamethasone (corticosteroid), and (Diphenhydramine (benadryl). Each of these are used to help suppress the effects of the chemotherapy, but will usually start wearing off after a few days.
I’m extremely thankful that I didn’t have any loss of appetite, because I was able to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with my family.
Side-effects of chemotherapy #1
The side-effects of chemotherapy may differ between each patient depending on their bodies natural reaction to the drugs. For me, some of the side effects have included; change of taste, nausea, dry nose, grogginess, confusion, sore neck/shoulders, shortness of breath, hair loss, and tingling in my jaw. I was mainly concerned of being by the toilet vomiting, not able to eat, but that wasn’t the case for this go-around. I’m grateful that I didn’t lose my appetite, or become violenty ill, and was able to manage with my side-effects.
November 30th, 2018
I had spent the whole day running around my house cleaning and decorating for Christmas. My aunt stopped by later that day to bring me homemade Turkey soup from Thanksgiving leftovers. She even surprised me with a vanilla chai tea and a dozen donuts from Dunkin’. Even she said I looked fine that day.
I had heartburn at one point so I took a prilosec and relaxed. I may have fallen asleep watching TV at some point but when I woke up I was feeling a little warm. I had asked my boyfriend to feel my forehead to tell me if I felt warm to him too, or if I was just having a hot flash. He confirmed I was feeling a bit warm so we took my temperature. I swear the thermometer I have is terrible because it took like 5 minutes to give me a reading, but when it did my fever was 100.4. I had to shuffle through the folders I was given to figure out who I should be calling. It ended up being the doctor on call and he told me we needed to go to the emergency room. So we did, at 12:30 in the morning.
I was admitted into Women & Infants hospital with an extremely dangerous neutropenic fever (my white blood cell count was dangerously low). Which meant I had an infection somewhere and my body needed medication to fight it. Normally, in this situation the nurse would access my port and draw blood through it to make it easy on me, but I hadn’t had mine fully accessed yet. I didn’t have numbing cream on (and we didn’t have time to put any on) and I felt like crap. So I said no and had her draw blood from my arm instead. That was probably the worst thing I could have ever done!
I had to get my blood drawn three different times, twice on the left side, once on the right. I either kept pulling away in pain or my vein would give up and we would have to start again. Then, I had to get a lovely 1 inch IV needle in my vein so they could start flushing me with fluids and medication. My body was tired and my arms were completely bruised. I ended up having one of the nurses access my port the following day just so I didn’t have to go through that again. It ended up being painless and I felt silly that I didn’t let the other nurse just do it. This led to seven nights in the hospital receiving constant fluids and medications, with a fever that kept spiking at least twice a day.
During this time I had a lot of hair loss, so I had a friend come to the hospital, and cut my hair. From the beginning of my diagnosis, I knew that I wanted to donate my hair. So, when the opportunity arose I took it. I didn’t know at the time that I was going to buzz it. I was planning on just cutting it short. I ended up making the big decision to get it over and done with now. I didn’t want to be devastated each time I took a shower, washed, dried, brushed, or even ran my fingers through my hair. So we buzzed it and I didn’t cry when I looked in the mirror. It was an amazing feeling to be able to donate my long, beautiful hair, to a child in need of a wig. It really is an empowering feeling to make the decision to buzz your hair and actually do it. I had amazing support from my boyfriend ♡ I did rock that look if I don’t say so myself. If you or someone you know is looking to donate hair please consider donating to wigs for kids!
December 05, 2018
After seven nights in the hospital, I had lost my appetite, I would get sick in the middle of the night, I constantly had to pee because of the fluids they were flushing me with, and I was still spiking a fever. I started feeling short, sharp pains that felt almost like period cramps on my lower right side of my stomach. When I would get them I couldn’t move and would keel over in pain. With my new symptoms my doctor ordered an ultrasound, and CT scan that day. My nurse brought me two containers of mixed berry contrast drink that I had to drink in a certain amount of time for my CT scan. It was disgusting and almost a creamy texture, but drinking it loaded with ice made it somewhat better.
The nurses aid wanted to wheel me down to get my ultrasound but after being in bed for so long I asked to walk. When I went in here I wasn’t expecting to have something that looked like a dildo inside me (sorry). I honestly have never that instrument before and was expecting a normal abdominal ultrasound. With my stomach pain getting worse this was extremely uncomfortable, especially because after the first photos, she had to come back and take more. I was in there for over an hour, including the time I waited while she spoke to the Doctor.
Turns out, my appendix hung over my ovaries, and that’s why I was feeling pain there. So, I had to pack up my room that night, and be transferred over to Rhode Island hospital for surgery. Two nurses from Rhode Island hospital walked over the bridge to get me, and they wanted to wheel me there too. I really hate being wheeled around in a wheelchair, and I wanted some exercise after a week of laying down. I walked across the bridge, that was under construction, with the nurses to the other hospital. Every other minute one of the nurses would look back to ask if I was feeling okay. I was, but what I soon figured out is that it’s not normal for someone with appendicitis to walk around in no pain. As soon as we crossed the bridge and entered the pre/post op area the nurses started freaking out, asking if I was the appendectomy patient, and why I was walking. I told them I was fine, but they all insisted I shouldn’t have been walking.
I hate the anticipation of going under anesthesia. I don’t know what it is, but it freaks me out. I always told myself I never would put myself through that, and I’ve already had to do it twice since my diagnosis. The anesthesiologist administered the medicine that makes you sleepy, and then I was rolled away to the operating room. I remember very little details up until going under, but nothing after that. I remember moving from one bed to another, a big room and bright lights all around me. I know the anesthesiologist was talking to me but I can’t remember anything he was saying.
The surgery only took an hour, and when I woke up I was still feeling the effects of the anesthesia very heavily. I remember being so thirsty because I couldn’t eat, or drink anything that day. I asked the doctor if I could have some ice to chew on. Thankfully, he gave me some. I don’t remember much else of that night, my boyfriend had to remind me that he came back to the hospital to help me change, and to tuck me in. I woke up a few hours after my surgery feeling like I had the best sleep ever. It was probably three o’clock in the morning at this time. I slept on and off until 6:30AM, when I could finally call in to the kitchen to make my breakfast order. I finally had an appetite so I ordered French toast, yogurt, apple slices, and orange juice. I ate it all.
I was monitored for the time that I was there. I was sore, but I could get up on my own. I had three different scars from the surgery. One on my belly button, one on my left side, and one small one right at my waist line. I was at the hospital through lunch, so I ordered a chicken BLT wrap, chicken & orzo soup, and iced tea with lemon. I ate the soup first, and then half of the wrap, I gave my boyfriend the other half. I was approved to be discharged from the hospital that day. So, once I got all my prescriptions I was finally able to go home.
YAY TO NOT HAVING TO GET MY BLOOD DRAWN EVERYDAY ANYMORE! NAY FOR THE WASTED DONUTS AT MY HOUSE.
Normally, I would be receiving chemotherapy every three weeks for four infusions. Which would land my next appointment on December 12th, but because of my recent surgery, the doctor said I had to wait a few weeks to heal before I start again.
Fast forward >>>
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Blood work was approved for chemotherapy!
January 9th, 2019
My boyfriend comes with me to all of my appointments, especially my chemotherapy ones. We both pack bags with stuff that we might want while we sit there for hours. There’s a TV there that we use, but we like to do other stuff too. I pack a bag full with my nausea lozenges, crossword puzzles, sudoku, fuzzy socks, a zip -up sweater, lotion, and chapstick. My boyfriend packs both of our switches, the tablet, and the chargers.
After waiting with my boyfriend in the waiting room for awhile we got called back to the chemo section. A nurse brought me into a room where she checked my weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. She asked me if I had eaten or drank anything hot. I must’ve been a little warm, but she said it was fine. My weight hasn’t changed since I’ve started chemo, so I’ve done a good job of maintaining my weight. The nurse walked me over to a different area than last time, and brought me to a recliner. I got myself situated. Took my shoes off, put my fuzzy socks on, and grabbed my tablet.
Usually, when you get chemotherapy they try to keep you with the same nurse, on the day of the week that you go. For me, it’s Wednesdays. The last time I went, the nurse I had was per diem, so she’s only there when needed. I had a different nurse this time, she was a little bit older, with an English accent. She accessed my port without the numbing cream, she questioned it at first, but I told her it’s fine. I’ve gotten past the fear of that already. She was shocked, “you didn’t even flinch”, I laughed at her. I told her it really didn’t hurt, because it didn’t. It feels like a tiny pinch, just like regular blood work. I haven’t even picked up my prescription of the numbing cream from CVS that my doctor prescribed because I don’t think need it. She administered my pre-meds, then the chemotherapy, and I just sat there with the TV, the tablet, and worked on my blog.
Side-effects of chemotherapy #2
After a few days, the side effects started hitting me, and a little harder this time. I had to take some of the nausea medication I was prescribed to help ease my stomach so I could eat. I had bright red cheeks again. I also had a faster heart rate, shortness of breath, fatigue, more hair loss, and a sore neck. Even though I have to endure this, I’m thankful for another round of chemotherapy without sickness, or loss of appetite.
Thank you for reading more of my story! I know it was a long read, but I had a lot to catch you up on. Until next time ♡