New Orleans Chemo

I figured I’d write a post since I know multiple people are wondering how things are going down here with my new medical team. I met with my new doctor today at my new hospital and am feeling good. I was amused at the check-in because they ask about you going to Africa or interacting with anyone with ebola and the elderly woman next to me checking in said “thank you for checking” after both questions. Here’s a helpful chart from NPR on your chances of catching ebola in the U.S. right now.

Adam Cole and Ryan Kellman/NPR

So out of all of the transmittable diseases that people could be bringing into the cancer ward, this one really doesn’t seem like it should be a question rather than them asking “do you have a cough or any flu symptoms”, which they didn’t ask. Most cancer treatments=damaged immune systems so I am much more concerned about someone bringing a flu in than ebola. Plus getting coughed on is a way that ebola can be transmitted so two birds, one stone! Personally I’ll be looking out for sharks. There was a tornado warning last night down here (the weather woman actually said “get to your safe place” for people in the more at risk parishes. I have never heard a weather person say anything like that, this is why we need to stop using the term “polar vortex”, stop trying to make cold weather scary. “Make sure you have wood stacked in case you lose power” is not on the level of “get to your safe place”.) Anyways, since there was a tornado down here, there’s obviously an increased risk of sharks

One of the things I like about my new cancer center is that it is very new so it feels nicer and cleaner. The DHMC is totally clean, it’s just a mental thing about things being shiny and new. It’s also nice to switch up because I’ve had so many shitty things happen to me at DHMC that I can go in to Ochsner and not have any baggage. I will build that baggage up of course, but at least I get to start fresh mid treatment, even driving somewhere new is nice. It’s also less than half the amount of time it took to get to DHMC so another perk. The only thing I would change is to have the gowns be Saints jerseys. The center was built from donated money from the team owner so this isn’t like a totally random desire.

Normally I’ll have chemo on the same day that I get my blood drawn to check all my levels and meet with my doctor, but since this was the first time they’re meeting with me I went in the day before. My new doctor has a good beard and communicates very well. I really really liked my oncologist at DHMC, so he’s at a disadvantage because he’s not Gary, but I think we’ll get along fine.

So this time I’m taking Taxol. Taxol is supposed to not have a lot of nausea associated with it, so that’s a big plus, I say ‘supposed to’ because we are all our own unique snowflakes when it comes to side effects so there’s no sure thing. The main issues that taxol causes are 1. a possible allergic reaction to the mixture agent (detergent I’ve been told) which I’ll find out tomorrow if I am or not (let’s hope not). I am taking a huge amount of steroids at 8pm and 2am to help with this, not sure if I’ll be sleeping tonight which could be pretty lame. Apparently the first time they have to do it like this, but it if it works then I can do it with the chemo next time? I don’t totally understand, but whatever, it’s one bad day. The other main issues are 2. some big word that I could look up and am not going to because I’m lazy, but your fingers and toes get really tingly because the circulation gets messed up. This can cause permanent damage so you have to keep an eye on how severe it is. I’ve had this a little with my current chemo, feels like your fingers are falling asleep. Next up is 3. muscle and bone pain. This one is a little scary because both of my oncologists have made sure that I have pain killers still from my surgery for this in case I need them, and those are no joke. I’ll take an antihistamine to try and help with this and then advil, but we’ll see how it goes. I’ve had some of this with the shot I get after each chemo treatment because that shot makes your body produce more white blood cells which is in your bones and causes achyness, the antihistamine has solved this which is promising, but again, no guarantees.

I’m going in hopeful, but low expectations. Hopeful that I’ll be like most people around my age and it will be easier and I won’t have any allergic reactions or anything really bad, but knowing that based on the snowflake theorem anything can happen.

The other main thing I am really really hoping besides the allergic reaction and nausea is that my nails don’t fall out. Yeah we can all cringe together at that sentence. ugh. So that’s another thing that this chemo can cause, but doesn’t on everyone, weakens your nails and they can come out. So I have to keep them clipped short (normally I take pride in long healthy nails) and keep an eye on them because that will hugely suck and frankly I think I have enough problems. I also asked about taking extra calcium, but he said it doesn’t help, it’s just a spin on the reaction roulette wheel and hoping that my number doesn’t come up.

I’d be totally down if the rest of the hair on my head falls out (sporadic spikiness is lame on multiple levels), but hoping that I can continue to keep my eyebrows and eye lashes for my own vanity and so I’m less of a cancer billboard. I did get a very nice hug from the guy that worked at J.C. Penney’s down here when I was wearing what I consider my incognito hat. Apparently it doesn’t fool people that have gone through it or had their spouse go through it like he did. It was such a Southern moment that I didn’t mind it at all and was amused, so touchy feely down here.

So I’m scheduled for 8am tomorrow for dose number one and we’ll see how it goes. I’ve got the rest of the week cleared and am going to order some chinese food for lunch so I can get a last good meal in just in case and because I’ve missed delivery food.

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