I have spent untold hours over the past 3.5 years in the infusion suite at the John B. Amos Cancer Center. While all the rest of the crowd has had destruction cloaked in sheep’s clothing dripping into their veins, I was always the pussy over in the corner with water coming down my drip line. I watched them wretch, release their bowels and sometimes be knocked flat by those cancer poisons releasing one drop at a time into their various ports, PICCs and IVs. You see, chemotherapy doesn’t work for renal cell carcinoma. I always felt like some kind of fake when I was in there being hydrated. That was an important procedure for me, but in the overall scheme of things, I felt like a bit fat pussy.
About 11 p.m. last night, I put on my big boy pants and joined the real infusion crowd. The first bag of aldesleukin (HD-IL2) was started about 6:30 yesterday evening. At exactly 11 p.m. Last night I jerked myself from a deep, REM sleep. My muscles were firing from my jawbone all the way through to the bottom of my feet. The rigors (for some reason here, pronounced Ryegers) hit me with a vengeance. I looked like a 240-pound marionette being controlled by one of Jerry’s kids. I couldn’t stop shaking until one of these nurse angels came in the door with a syringe filled with 2 mg of morphine. Two of those later, the shakes were gone and I drifted off to a great sleep in spite of the regular vital signs checks, but not before I was stricken with a bout of bodacious nausea. They came and dealt with that, too, and I managed to go to sleep without soiling myself or throwing up. Mike 1 — HD-IL2 0!
They’re about to come and hang dose number three. They tell me these symptoms are cumulative and that I’ll be getting sicker and maybe quickly. My blood pressure is now about 95 over 50, so it has exhibited its expected slide. We’re going to get me into the shower as soon as Jill comes back from breakfast and get the wound changed where my PICC line went in.
I woke up this morning feeling really well. Wide awake, talkative and happy to be in the care of the beautiful Janet from Baltimore. These nurses here are truly incredible, just like the nurses in other institutions where I’ve had care. They are the ones on the line putting up with the patients and the doctors. A reluctant nurse sandwich. I have brought a load of my dad’s semi-world famous peanut brittle. That planned bag of sweet currency is helping to pay the bills around here.
So, with the third of dose of up to 14 in sight, we’re soldering on, one drip at a time. By the way, I found out the real reason to use a PICC line instead of a normal IV. Last night, I posted that the PICC goes in the antecubital (in the crook of your elbow) vein. It doesn’t. Mine went into the Basilic vein. Even though the wire tried to make an unscheduled side trip up my jugular vein into my neck, the nurse fished it back and had me contort my neck to force it over toward my heart at the superior vena cava. The reason a PICC line is used it to get the end of that catheter in the center of one of the largest veins in the body, the superior vena cava. That is done to properly dilute the medications in that big pipeline to better disperse them throughout the body.
I try to always learn something new each day. That is easy to do in a hospital.