Last Friday I was very happy to be starting my new treatment.
First thing in the morning I had surgery to have my port put in. This means that instead of having infusions through an iv in my hand, I can have them straight through my port, which will be a relief, because after 16 infusions, my veins have become increasingly painful and uncooperative.
Because I was so happy about having the port put in, I hadn't really thought about the procedure itself that much. I knew I'd have a local anesthetic, and a sedative, and that two incisions would be made, one about three centimetres where the port would be inserted, the other much smaller one is where the cord of the port would be connected to the vein in my neck. Well, maybe I did know about the procedure, but I hadn't thought about how sore I would feel afterwards. The procedure itself wasn't as uncomfortable as my lung biopsy, but it wasn't much more pleasant. First of all, I hardly noticed the sedation, and that lovely almost drunk feeling was what I had been looking forward to most. I almost asked for more, but didn't want to sound like a whimp. Secondly, my chest AND face were covered with a thick plastic sheet. I was lying on the bed on my back, with my head turned to the left, while the port was going in on the right side of my chest. It wasn't painful, but I could feel hot blood spill from the incisions, running up my chest and down the back of my neck. This was followed by quite a lot of pushing and prodding and scans to make sure everything was in the right place.
In recovery I could hardly move my head and felt like the tube connecting my port with the vein in my neck was too tight. Luckily this was just due to the anesthetic and the way the dressing was taped to my neck, but the horrible feeling didn't go completely until the next morning. My husband and my dad were in recovery with me, and we had lovely chats as we always do in the hospital. My dad has never really been the type of person who talks about sad things, but somehow, with everything that has happened to me in the last year, being in the hospital makes him open up. We talked about his family and growing up in Italy. How his dad escaped being shipped off to a concentration camp during the war. I asked him if he remembered his mother at all, who had died when he was four. He told me his only memory of his mother was speaking to his Aunty after she died and saying 'I know my mummy died, but I'm not going to cry. I'm going to be brave'. Both stories I had never heard before.
Once I was able to leave recovery we went and had a lovely lunch before having to head up to have my infusion. I was so happy to be finally starting treatment that I hadn't really looked into the new drug, Navelbine. I assumed that it was like herceptin and not actually a chemo drug because it doesn't cause hair loss. When I sat down for the infusion, I was asked if is had my bloods done yet. I told them no, I don't think I need them done, and then the nurse told me that yes, you do need your bloods taken before every chemo... Then, before the actual infusion, the nurse told me 'this is for the nausea' as she injected some fluid into my new port. That was when it really sunk in. This was chemo, and I'd be having it every two out of three weeks for the foreseeable future. I felt sick. From that moment on I'd had enough. I was sore. I couldn't move my head. I looked around the room at the other patients, all sick, all at least 20 years older than me. I wanted to cry. I could hardly sit still in my chair. I wanted to jump up and leave but I was too tired. The nurse came to speak to me about the dressing on the port and when it could be changed and removed, but I just wanted to tell her to go away, that I really didn't care right now. I got so tired that I couldn't keep my eyes open, and then all of a sudden it was all over. The infusion itself took all of 5 minutes and I was able to go home. I went home and all I wanted to do was sleep, so that's what I did. When I woke up I was sore and could see I had been bleeding, but seeing little birdie when she got home from preschool made me finally started to feel a bit better. As soon as she saw me she asked to see my new button, and told me she liked the pink antiseptic the doctors had painted on me, so much so that she asked of they could put it on my face next time too.
At dinner time I had a sudden rush of nausea and had to race to the bathroom, but by the time I got there it was gone. It wasn't much later that I decided to go to bed.
The next morning I woke up sore and feeling a little sick. I made my daughter her bottle and myself a tea, only to have one sip before realising my taste buds had already changed (my most hated side effect from chemo) and my tea tasted off. My husband was wonderful and spent the day taking care of my daughter so I could rest. He even let her help mow the lawn and took her swimming before going to the shops and stocking up on my favorite foods from when I last went through chemo, crackers, fetta stuffed olives, and soda water. As the day went on I felt better and better, and even managed to enjoy dinner.
Sunday was my nephews 6th birthday party. I woke up feeling better again, but still a bit sore. When getting ready for the party I asked little birdie what she wanted to wear and she said 'my strawberry dress mummy'. I was confused and told her she doesn't have a strawberry dress, and she said 'yes I do mummy. The one with her hat'. She was referring to her Halloween costume! After I made a few other suggestions she was adamant that that was what she wanted to wear, so off we went. She was a little overwhelmed when we arrived at the party as my nephew had invited his whole class and there were 30 kids running around, but we all had a lovely day. The whole time we were there, even when my husband wasn't by my side, he was looking after me. Every now and again someone would come over with a drink he had asked them to bring me. He got me my food. He even rushed across the crowded room when someone tried to pass me my baby nephew because I'm not allowed to lift anything for a week after having my port put in. At the end of the day I was tired, but I felt good.
This morning I woke up feeling like my old self, and I was even able to drink a cup of tea and have it taste normal. Hooray! I'm still a little sore and tired, but I'm feeling so much better knowing that the chemo side effects are only going to last a few days. I can definitely handle feeling crap for two days every week if it means I'm going to be around longer to spend time with my wonderful family, and that's all I want to do.