My chemo crew consisted of my Mom and Dad, a great team to have for my final chemo infusion. After we arrived, I had labs as usual and met with the oncologist PA. There was a bit of drama when the lab paged the PA to discuss some lab results with her. I immediately thought my counts would be too low to receive my final infusion. Luckily I was wrong, the Neulasta did a fantastic job, my white blood counts were up significantly from the previous two rounds. In fact, there were a bit higher than the normal range, which is why the lab paged my PA. Given the elevated WBC count, the lab was worried I had an infection; apparently, they didn’t get the memo that I was taking Neulasta. After that initial scare, I was cleared for my final poisoning session.
We had some time to kill, so I had a lovely cafeteria lunch with my Mom and Dad. Then we headed to what was hopefully going to be my last visit to a chemo suite. I made sure to bring all the hard-working nurses a well-deserved gift of chocolate, as they were all so friendly and helpful!
The chemo infusion went really smoothly, except for the cumulative neuropathy of the Oxaliplatin. About 45 minutes into the infusion, I had a lot of numbness and tingling in my toes. A hot pack took the edge off, but I’ve reached the point where my fingers and toes are continually numb and tingly these days. If its the price I have to pay to kick cancer’s ass, so be it. Hopefully, the neuropathy should fade over the months to come.
Once the infusions finished and I was hooked up to my chemo grenade, I did something that I never guessed I would do. I asked my chemo nurse if I could give her a hug. Granted, I’m a hugger, but I’ve never wanted to hug a medical professional before, but this time it was different. Chemo is rough, and I can’t imagine how difficult it has to be to administer it dozens of patients of varying degrees of cancer each week. Especially when not every patient takes a relaxed approach to things like me, so nurses have to put up with a lot. These nurses work to help patients like me beat something that is trying to kill us, all the while doing it with extreme passion and kindness… that’s awesome. So after accepting my invitation for a hug, I thanked my nurse for everything she did for every other patient and me. I think we both needed that hug, it was the end of one bumpy road for me, and a well-deserved thank you for a profession that often goes unthanked.
After I got home, I took it easy for most of the weekend, knowing that I would have 6 straight hours of scans on Monday. I knew this was going to take a lot out of me, so I wanted to conserve energy. My final disconnect on Sunday was also straight forward. A few flushes of saline and a bag of fluids later, I was almost done with part of my adventure.
I’m going to skip ahead a bit to close out the round 8 chemo chapter before jumping into the scans and scan results. Like last time, I was prescribed Neulasta to bring up my white blood cell counts. Unfortunately, since I had an MRI on Monday, I could not have a metallic patch stuck on my belly. MRI machines and metallic objects do not mix. Instead, they shipped us a self-injection kit, which was basically a fancy pre-filled syringe that you (or your stabby spouse) get to inject at home.
Fast forward to Monday. They scheduled an injection appointment at the university medical center after my scans, but when I got done with 6 hours of scans, there was no way I could wait around for an injection. I was completely wiped out physically and mentally from all the walking. So I ended up canceling that appointment and surrendered to the fact that I was going to be stabbed in the comfort of my own home.
The nurse at the clinic warned me that the self-injection could be more painful than the OnPro (the option I had last time) since it was injected over 45 minutes. I had the option of stabbing myself either in the leg, arm, or gut, but I wasn’t enthused by that idea. Plus, I have a stab happy wife, that could use some stress relief for the last four months. After allowing the Neulasta to warm up for 30 minutes (it needs to be refrigerated), it was showtime. Grasping the $8,000 syringe in her hands, she (easily) grabbed some belly flab and jabbed the needle in. So far, so good, it didn’t hurt too much. Then Elaine started pushing down the plunger on the syringe; apparently, it was a little to fast because I felt the fires of hell entering my belly. After yelping at her to slow down, the fires cooled to a warm tingle. During this process, Elaine informed me that I have a very unique talent, that makes holding the needle in place difficult. Apparently, I can create waves in my belly fat when I’m breathing deeply to calm the “tingle” from the Neulasta. After Elaine, removed the needled, that marked the official end of my chemo infusions.
Up next, we’d find out the scan results and plans for the next course of treatment.