Monday, January 19, 2009

In hospital, first day of chemo

The first day of my hospital stay is off to a good start. We got here at 8 am and I was started on IV fluids pretty quickly, since at least 4 hours of hydration are required before they can start the chemotherapy. Compared with my stay at Swedish hospital, I'm starting to like UW Medical Center better. For one, they have much newer IV equipment. The pumps are quieter, the IV poll itself has a handle for pulling it around and isn't squeaky like my other polls have been, and the interface is pretty fancy and even shows the name of the current drug or chemotherapy being infused. The TV in the room has full cable and even a movie channel and includes a separate remote, which is one of those things you take for granted until you try and use one of those dysfunctional hospital remotes affixed to the bed. The last remote I used like that had just one button for the TV - you could only increase the channel. To turn the TV off you had to go through *all* the channels to the end. So something as simple as a real TV remote is pretty nice.

I also get to wear my own clothes here! This rocks, since the hospital gowns aren't that comfortable and it's hard not to feel like a sick person when you're wearing them. So I've got comfortable sweat pants, t-shirts and hoodies, and feeling much more like a normal person. The other cool thing is that the nurses have a chart of my blood counts posted on my bulletin board, which they update every morning. This is great, since normally I have to bug the nurses to get a copy of my labs, and then I put them in my own spreadsheet. With my own clothes and these kinds of attention to detail, I feel a lot more taken care of and less like a sick person.

So far the only downside is that the internet connection is wired only. No wireless! It's much faster than Swedish, but I may have to smuggle in a small wireless router or hub so that Johanna and her mom and anyone else can share the internet connection.

We started chemotherapy an hour ago and the first session just finished. The regimen is Cytoxin first, which suppresses the immune system, then Busulfan, which suppresses the marrow and everything else. I'm on a clinical study where they've reversed the order of these chemotherapy drugs. Normally they do Busulfan first, then Cytoxin, or "Byoo-sigh" as they call it, but it's been shown that doing Cytoxin first is less toxic overall so they're experimenting with that. Apparently they've been wanting to do it in this order for years, but until recently the Busulfan had to be taken orally, so they had to do that one first, otherwise patients would have problems keeping the pills down. Since it's a clinical trial, the researcher has been in on a regular basis to draw blood to check the levels of Cytoxin in my system for their research.

Other than having to pee all day, the only side effect I've experienced so far is right after the Cytoxin chemotherapy drug started. The feeling was like being drunk, oddly enough. I'm still a bit groggy, and things going on in the room feel sort of far away. The drug also irritates your sinus passages, so I experienced a side-effect like sniffing some toxic fumes, which is pretty much what's happening :) The Cytoxin infusion was only for an hour, so I'll just be on hydration fluids and various medications until tomorrow. For example, they're giving me a drug called Mesna to help the bladder, since the chemotherapy can cause bleeding inside your bladder. Fun stuff :)

My daily blood count chart

Not a bad view, it's nice to see the trees.

My fancy IV pole.


George said...

I meant to call earlier today and then I forgot my phone at work...

I'll try later if you are up to it. What are you watching on the tele? I'm sure Obama tomorrow.

Noor-E-Gagan said...

Hope you have a successful chemo treatment.

Your blog has just been amazing so I didn't knew that you had such a huge sense of humor :-)

Let us know how we could be of help-

rachael said...

Looks like a nice suite there Steve! Let us know when you are up for visitors. I'll be there in ten minutes! Take care, and I hope you are feeling better after the chemo.