Monday, August 10, 2009

Crazy 8

Good day, dear reader.  You’ll have to excuse me if I gush, but gush I might.  CHEMO IS DONE, CHEMO IS DONE, CHEMO IS DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!  End of gushing.  For now.

That’s right, dear reader, Dianne is officially finished with Chemotherapy.  25 weeks ago, she started the long journey down chemo road, and with a few twists in the road, she made it to the end of this stage of the race.  Most of say that the 25 weeks went very quickly, and I believe that everyone it did.  Everyone except Dianne, that is.  For her, it was a long, arduous process.   I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again “Dianne, I love you and you are amazing!!”

Now, why the title Crazy 8?  Isn’t that a card game?  Well, dear reader, the reason I chose this as my title is because chemo #8 was a crazy ride.  The administration of the chemo went according to plan, but the time we spend at the CCI was crazy.  Let me explain.

Normally, when we get to the CCI, we go in, they tell us where to sit, and then the nurse comes along and hooks everything up, and all is well.   Dianne usually reads or dozes off, and I will either read or play on the laptop.  So, we were all prepared for much of the same when we went in.  We were soon to learn that it was not to be.  We were not the first ones in the room that morning.  Chris and his brother Jim were first.  Chris has lung cancer, and his treatment started a bit earlier than Dianne’s.  As we headed towards her assigned seat, Chris bellowed out a hearty welcome.  It was the kind of greeting that made you think of loud mouth schnooks and goombas.  Needless to say, we were a bit concerned.

As we got to talking with Chris and Jim, we realized that they were just trying to make the best of a bad situation.  Having fun, trying to lighten the mood kind of stuff.  Very quickly, we started to have fun.  As more people entered our area and took a seat, they were greeted heartily and made to feel welcome (or not, depending on how they like us).  Soon, the room was full, the room was loud, we were all laughing (well, most of us were laughing).  Dianne and I did not get a chance to read or play on the laptop.

Some very interesting and bizarre conversations happened that day.  The one about the twitching kids (honestly dear reader, you don’t want to know….but if I ever see a kid twitch I am going to laugh my a$$ off and think of Chris and Jim), the one about salads.  One of the patients actually had to read part of her book out loud to us…it was something about what kids don’t learn in school.  We asked her not to read to us anymore LOL.

Everyone in the room knew it was Dianne’s last treatment (mainly because Chris bellowed it out to everyone who walked in).  So towards the end, it became a really big deal.  The process was this:  when the chemo drip was 20 minutes away from being done, Dianne had to put a hot pack over the PICC line (which was about to be removed) so that it would slide out nice and easy.  Once the PICC line was out, she had to wait around for 20 minutes with a compression bandage on it to make sure she didn’t bleed all over the place.
So, here we are….20 minutes left in the drip.  The process has started.  The heat pack is in place, and Chris is bellowing that Dianne is almost done.  The drip is now done (that’s officially it for chemo, but still a bit of work to do).  I turn the other way because I know that the nurse is about to pull the PICC line out.  Dear reader, I don’t know about you, but I don’t need to see a tube being pulled out of a vein in someone’s arm.  Watching the operation channel on TV (is that even on anymore?) is one thing, but seeing this stuff live makes my mini-wheats come back to haunt me.  The PICC line came out really smooth.  Dianne said it didn’t hurt, but just felt really weird.  20 minutes left.

The countdown was on, and became a verbal countdown at around 10 minutes.  I would bellow out the amount of time left in small intervals, at which point conversation would briefly stop.  At one minute left, everyone in the room was watching and listening to me do my count.  At 10 seconds I counted every second…..10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…..DONE!!!!  Dear reader, it was a heady experience when I said 0…the whole room burst out into cheers and clapping!!  The nurse broke into a rousing rendition of ‘Happy last chemo day’ to the tune of Happy Birthday (or a reasonable facsimile thereof).  And with that, we picked up our stuff, said goodbye to everyone…..and left.

So much more went on this day during the treatment, but I honestly can’t remember it all.  I can tell you that the first 7 treatment days were quiet….and the 8th one was crazy in a fun sort of way.  We left the CCI with smiles on our faces, and a warm fuzzy feeling in our hearts.

Now what, you ask?  Well, now we wait.  Dianne has 3 or 4 weeks to recover from this chemo, and then it’s surgery.  We should find out this week what the exact day surgery will be.  And yes, dear reader, Dianne has decided to have a double mastectomy.  We talked a lot about the options, we got different opinions from different people, we consulted with the Dr. at the CCI….and decided on the double.  I won’t go into all the details of why we decided this, but rest assured that Dianne is very comfortable with this decision.

And that dear reader, was crazy 8th chemo day.  I probably did a lousy job of conveying how much fun we actually had, but that’s all I got.  I’d like to give a shout out to Chris….if you ever read this, Chris, I hope and pray that all goes well with you!!  A very special thank you goes out to the chemo nurses at the CCI….you ladies are brilliant, and we appreciate everything you’ve all done for us.  You’ll still see us, though…every 3 weeks for the next year for the Herceptin treatment.  (Dear reader, the Herceptin is the drug to counter Dianne’s HER2+ disease, which is what is making her cancer so aggressive….).  Thanks again to Laura for giving Dianne her last Neulasta injection.  Thanks to Andy and Darren for watching the kids.  And thanks to everyone for the thoughts and prayers…we appreciate it more than words can say.

On a final note, dear reader:  CHEMO IS DONE.  D-U-N….DONE!!!!



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