Friday, January 10, 2014

First blood draw

     When you go through chemotherapy treatments, one of the most common side effects is to have levels of blood cells (white blood cells, platelets, etc) get out of whack (in medical terms). Subsequently, the doctors require blood levels be checked often. If the blood test numbers come back out of a normal range, then treatment has to be delayed or adjusted accordingly. I will be going for blood labs on Fridays, and having chemo treatments on Mondays for three weeks out of the month, with a week off from treatment. If things don't go as planned, we will have to adjust that schedule, maybe to a two on and one off rotation. So for the next six months, I will be hanging out at the cancer center twice per week three weeks out of each month.
     I went in this morning bright and early for an 8 am lab. This was my first. They stuck the needle in my port. The tech tells me to turn my head to the left. Then she had me stand up and raise my arm. Then she has me go into another room and lie down on the bed. Nothing will come out of my port. First time trying to access it and it is being stubborn. So, I got a shot of heparin (blood thinner) to try to clean things out. After about 20 minutes, it was flowing enough to get the vials she needed. 

Here is what it looks like. I am wearing my lucky Vermont 100 shirt :)

Here is Steve waiting for me. Photo taken from my lying down position :) I just love that guy! He puts up with my nonsense. I have no idea why :)

We had a visit with my doctor who explained the schedule. Then we talked running for a couple of minutes, because we always do. I like doctors who are runners. They get me. I won't see the doc again for another month unless I have problems. 
     After seeing the doctor, we went out to the scheduler. It took us about 30 minutes to get the next two months of appointments set up. The entire staff is so nice and pleasant. I think it takes a special person to work in oncology day in and day out. I don't know that many people would be able to put aside their own daily problems to be a constant comfort to others. It really is a unique place. I noticed in the waiting room this morning that everyone knew each other a la Cheers. I guess after six months, I will be regular, too. 


  1. Hi Tonia:
    just getting caught up with your blog and especially about how saying "tI am sorry ,hat really sucks" is better than saying nothing. You know I am sorry and it really sucks that you have pancreatic cancer - and I would say it in person if I could. But I am at home with my terminally ill husband who is now on hospice - and that sucks as well. We have no idea how much longer he has - but he will not get well - he will only decline as there is no cure for his idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis - and no treatment either - just comfort care. We have the hospice nurse who turns up once a week - I want to call her the "bowel" nurse as she always inquires about his bowels! As a friend of mine said - well it gives her something to ask about other than - on a scale of 0-10 how is your breathing today!
    He has lost a great deal of weight but put back on quite a bit when he was first diagnosed last spring and put on a mega dose of prednisone. That stuff makes you want to move into the refrigerator and eat everything. In August he changed doctors to go to a center of excellence for his illness and the new doctor took him off the prednisone saying it does nothing for his lungs and it can lead to many other problems. After that he had no appetite and started losing weight again.
    Thanks to hospice he is now on marinol - a drug given to cancer patients who have trouble eating. So far it works -and not doubt something will be offered if you start to lose weight and lose your appetite. It is important to keep up your weight and your strength - as like my husband - you do not need to lose weight. I will be thinking about you every day - and indeed it sucks - and I am as sorry as hell.

  2. Aw, Mary, I really do think of you and your husband often. I know this has to be so very hard for you to care for your husband, and see him so sick. Caregivers and family are not given nearly enough attention. I know I have asked many people to check in on my husband and kids. I worry more about them than I do about myself. I hope you have a lot of support close by to hug you, talk to you and give you a break.