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Live Blogging from the Chemo Chair: Cycle 5.1, Better Late Than Never

When I started my visits to the Chemo Cafe, I made a commitment to myself to blog each visit while it was happening. As the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, says (and to slightly paraphrase) “The best laid plans of mice and (wo)men, often go awry.” Real life has gotten in the way, making this post late. Ah! Tragedy! (Not.)

Chemo Vacation Recap

Half-way through my Chemo Vacation last week, a new issue popped up (remember the part about “best laid plans?”) My blood pressure is up. In fact, it’s up enough that my weekly Visiting Nurse called the Oncology Hotline to arrange for me to see the doctor (something I could have done myself, but she insisted). I ended up going to the “after hours” clinic, seeing the doctor on duty — who is not my usual Oncologist. He did not seem to be as concerned as Visiting Nurse with this upswing in my BP — which was both reassuring and scary.

Who do I believe? Visiting Nurse, who I see every week, who knows about all the side-effect issues I’ve had, and who seems very concerned over my rise in BP?

Or the one-time-visit-Oncologist, who is not totally familiar with my history/prescriptions/tribulations? But who is a doctor.

This is not the first time I’ve faced the conundrum of who is giving me the best advice.

Nurses often spend more time with the patient, and often have more patient facts top-of-mind than the doctor does simply because of the way our medical system works.

But the doctor has a larger overview of the entire disease. This is why I think it’s the responsibility of the patient to ask questions, lots of questions. You need a strong understanding of the issue and what needs to be done to clear it. And if you’re not comfortable with what you’re hearing, seek another opinion.

You may remember that back in January, during our first surgery attempt, (another “best laid plans”I had a blip on my EKG and the Cardiologist on duty at the hospital put me on a beta blocker, which helps with blood pressure. The one-time-visit-Oncologist recommended that I increase the beta blocker if my BP continued to be high. When I saw my usual Oncologist on Chemo Day, he confirmed this course of action. I also connected with my family doctor, who also agreed.

Have your best laid plans gone awry? Ask questions until you understand the course of action.

Chemo Day Thursday

We started with a fabulous lunch at an old favorite of mine, Meadowlark Restaurant. The wonderful Shelley was my driver today, and our pal (and former boss), Marti met us there. Good friends + good food = Heaven!

As per the usual, I forgot to take photos! (When will the best laid plans going awry thing end?)  I’m going to blame this on the excitement of lunch with two of my best pals.

Marti, Bev, and Shelley at a different restaurant on another occasion, but just as happy to be together.

Marti, Bev, and Shelley at a different restaurant on another occasion, but just as happy to be together.

One of my favorite things about the Meadowlark is that they make their own ketchup. Now, that may seem like a very small thing on a restaurant’s menu, but it’s an incredible compliment to their Garlic Frites (French fries with garlic) and a good example of their dedication to yummy food. I had a beautiful grilled cheese and bacon sandwich — because everything is better with bacon!

After lunch, Shelley and I headed over to the Chemo Cafe for dessert.

8-7-15 Bev-Shelley

My last visit to the Chemo Cafe was July 21, which gave me 16 days between treatments. And remember that I had an extra week off in early July due to the “Ham Feet Incident.” So even though my red blood cell and hemoglobin counts are still low, and I had a moment of doubt on Wednesday night, I am back in battle mode and feeling good!

Improved protocol: my Chemo Nurse is now double-gloved, masked, and wearing protective glasses. Is this so I can't identify the person pumping me full of poison?

Improved protocol: my Chemo Nurse is now double-gloved, masked, and wearing protective glasses. Is this so I can’t identify the person pumping me full of poison? (I’m loving the photo-bomber!)

Seriously, it's disconcerting to see my gentle Chemo Nurse dressed up in this unrecognizable fashion!

Seriously, it’s disconcerting to see my gentle Chemo Nurse dressed up in this unrecognizable fashion!

Before chemo, I saw my doctor and discovered that there had been a mis-communication regarding my future chemo dates. The scheduled dates were Thursday for 5.1, with 5.2 (next week) on Wednesday, and 5.3 (the following week) on Tuesday. This was to ease me back to my usual Tuesday dates for Cycle 6. Turns out, the doctor wants all my chemo dates to be Thursday (instead of Tuesday) because that’s the day he’s at the clinic and if I have any more issues he’s there to see me instead of relying on the Doctor-on-Duty.

Best laid plans: my wonderful friends have committed to taking me to chemo several weeks in advance. When the dates changed to Thursday/Wednesday/Tuesday with an extra week off (due to ham feet), we had to reschedule. Now, with the dates changed to Thursday/Thursday/Thursday, we had to do another reschedule.

Plus, my little man Tyler was scheduled for a teeth-cleaning which I had to reschedule. For the second time.

Tyler is not sure what a "dental" is, but he's certain he won't like it.

Tyler is not sure what a “dental” is, but he’s certain he won’t like it.

Luckily, I have incredible friends and Tyler goes to an amazing veterinary clinic. It took just a few text messages and a phone call to adjust things. And I snapped my fingers in the face of the Best Laid Plans Curse!

Steroid Friday/Saturday

I’ve been busy. Between the steroids mixed in with my chemo cocktail, and the steroid pills I take for the two days after my treatment, I had amazing energy on Friday and Saturday. What I accomplished on Friday:

  • Called my former employer’s benefits line to straighten out an issue.
  • Called a very dear friend I haven’t had a chance to talk to in months.
  • Picked up more drugs from the pharmacy.
  • Took my mom to her manicure appointment.
  • Cleaned out our refrigerator.
  • Updated my chemo book (where I keep track of diet, health issues, prescriptions, questions).
  • Washed out 8 pairs of support stockings, by hand.
  • And, most importantly, I spent the majority of the day outside weeding and dead-heading my flower beds. (Those of you who are sick of reading my Facebook complaints about not being able to care for my flower beds can breath a sigh of relief. At least for now. Until the weeds come back.)

8-7-15 flowers

 

8-7-15 flowers2

I’ve slowed down a little for Saturday.

  • Did our weekly grocery shopping.
  • Ordered some necessaries from Amazon.
  • Watered the potted plants on the front porch and patio.
  • Did maintenance work on my big jade plant and the pieces of it that I’ve repotted this summer.
  • And realized that I had not published my “Live Blogging from the Chemo Chair” this week, and it was only partially written.
Robert Burns painted by Alexander Naysmith in 1787 and located in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (Thanks Wikipedia!)

Robert Burns painted by Alexander Naysmith in 1787 and located in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (Thanks Wikipedia!)

Robbie Burns had it mostly right — except for the gender exclusion “The best laid plans of mice and men AND women, often go awry.” High BP? Rescheduling my life? Forgetting to take photos? These are minor things, easily fixed. And though I made the commitment to myself to publish my chemo report on the same day as my treatment, there is no tragedy in being late. Just a really long blog post!

I can live with that.