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Thursday, January 17, 2008

What the heck...

It started the way it always starts.

I walk into the office and sign in. A nice person in scrubs says hi and asks me to sit. I do. On infusion days, I rarely wait more than 5 minutes, so I don't bother to get interested in the TV. I'll have my own in a minute and a better choice of channels.

A---, one of my favorite people on the planet, calls me back. She weighs me. This time I asked for her to weigh me. I'd been in last week, so we didn't have to, but I've been losing weight and wanted to see where I was at. She walks me back to the room and lets me choose my chair. There's little choice, really. All three are green, somewhat comfortable and within good view of the TV--though I'm not happy that someone else is here and he's already chosen a TV channel. Poop. No choice for me.

I get over my silliness as soon as I see he's got something on I'd want to watch. I've got a few minutes before the nurse will come in, so I recline the chair and start chatting with D---. He's a nice guy. I've never seen him here before but it's 'cause he's on another type of biomed, so he only comes in every 6 months, not every 6 weeks, like me.

S---, my nurse, comes in. She starts getting the "equipment" ready.

She pulls the tray over and covers it with a blue pad. She tears open a bag of saline and hangs it on the hook near my chair. She puts the line on the tray and then goes to get the needles, tape, gauze, alcohol and other gear.

I make small talk. It works for me.

S--- talks small right back as she hooks me up, gives me my pre-infusion steroids and anti-migraine pills. She gets fluid from the bag and mixes it with the drug. I watch as she re-injects the now-fluid-drug back into the bag. She starts the line running, and turns to take notes, asking about my holiday.

And this is where this last infusion stops being like all the ones before. This is the point at which I start scratching at my very red and slightly bumpy arm.

"Oh, man, I'm itchy," I say.

S--- shoots some more steroids into the IV and slows the flow from the bag. She turns back to the charts.

When she turns back around, I am trying to remove my eardrums using only my short-clipped fingernails as tools.

We're not playing nice any more.

S--- moves quickly. Before I can really register what's happening, she has put more stuff in the lead, turned off the IV altogether and asked how I'm doing. I apologize slurrily, and announce that I think I'm falling asleep. I am. Mainlining Benadryl as a response to anaphylaxis will pretty much do that to a girl.

S--- says, "mmhmmm." and D-- laughs.

The way chemo works (whether for cancer or--as in my case--for arthritis) is that when the allergic reaction stops, the chemo starts back up. We do this as much as possible because truth is that chemo is poison, but when it goes in and slows that screamin' immune system down to a dull roar, my hands start working again and the pain level goes WAYYYYYY down.

So a few days later, I'm still tired, my body is still kind of messed up with whatever they put in me...but I managed to type all this up and my hands feel fine! :)

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