No. 5 is in the History Books

9 Dec

I’m finished with the 5th round of chemo and my last round for 2011!  We’ll start again the first week of January with round 6, which will be my final chemo treatment of this initial phase.  THAT will be cause for celebration!!  After that, I’ll begin maintenance chemo of Rituxan every two months for two years.

My veins were very, very stubborn yesterday morning.  The further we’ve gotten in the chemo process, the worse the veins have become.  It’s like they know what’s coming and they go hide the minute I walk into the treatment room!  I don’t blame them.  I would hide too if I could.  :)

It took three very painful attempts and almost an hour of trying this morning before they got the IV inserted on the fourth try.  I almost cried a couple of times it was so painful.  That’s unusual because these nurses are so good at getting the IVs in without much pain.  They would get the needle in and the vein would blow meaning it couldn’t be used and they would need to try another spot.  My hands were cold, so they wrapped my arm in a heating pad and had me sit there for while.  After my veins were nice and toasty, they tried again.  No luck.  Sat there longer wrapped in the heating pad, and tried one more time.  April had success!!  Woohoo!!

This experience makes me glad that I asked the nurses yesterday about getting a port – whether it would be worth the time and effort to do so.  I only have one more regular round of chemo, but I have two years of maintenance chemo, so I will need to be stuck numerous times in the next couple of years.  They thought it was a good idea, and after yesterday’s frustrating attempts at accessing a vein, they agreed it was a superb idea.

I am scheduled to have what is called a portacath inserted next Thursday.  It’s a quick outpatient procedure under managed sedation and should greatly improve the quality of my treatment experiences.  The port will be placed in my upper chest area under the skin and a small tube will be placed inside a vein that takes blood directly to my heart.  Whenever I go for treatment or have to have blood drawn, they can access the port instead of sticking me fourteen million times.  :)

The port will look something like this, but will be under the skin so it won’t be too noticeable other than the bump where it is located.

Source: BARD Access Systems

You may wonder why we didn’t do this sooner?  First, we didn’t realize my veins would react the way they have and thought I could make it through six rounds without much trouble.  I’ve always had great veins with no difficulty in accessing them, but chemo can make a chicken out of even the best veins, huh?  :)  Second, we didn’t know maintenance chemo was a possibility until two weeks ago, so once that became a reality combined with the difficulty we had this week accessing my veins, a port seemed like a good option.

I guess that’s enough of a lesson in portacaths for you today.  :)

At noon today, I am going to get an injection of Neulasta to prompt my bone marrow to generate more white cells to help me fight infection.  I thought I was getting Neupogen, but today they confirmed it is actually Neulasta.  Very similar drugs, just with Neulasta I think only one injection is needed versus multiple injections with Neupogen.

Now, it’s time to turn my attention to Christmas.  Can you believe Christmas is only two weeks away??  Wow.  I’ve got to get busy addressing some Christmas cards!  Oh, yeah, and buying a few presents, too.  Christmas waits for no one – not even cancer patients!  ha ha!  :)

I hope you all have a great weekend and stay warm.

♥ Rachel

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3 Responses to “No. 5 is in the History Books”

  1. Becky Robinson December 9, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    The port will make it so much easier for you. With mine, they access it the first day of treatment, leave the catheter in for the 4 treatments and take it out the last day. It makes it so much easier when you don’t have to get stuck every day. Anything that makes it easier for you is great.

    One of my nurses is also named April. She is fantastic and I hope yours is, too.

    Hope you have a great weekend.

    Love,
    Becky

  2. Kathy December 9, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    It makes me cringe thinking of it hurting you that much. I’m so, so sorry and glad this one is behind you. You know Jenn and I would take the pain for you in a heartbeat if we could.

    Have you noticed that the portacath looks like a tiny heart? That’s a good sign. Silly, but good none the less. We can all use extra heart now and then.

    Reckon you can to choose your portacath color, haha! I love you sooo much!

  3. Jim Fugate December 9, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    Good morning, Rachael:

    Glad you’re getting a port. You’ve certainly been tortured with efforts of those trying to find veins Reminds me of my Susie (she passed away this past April 23): It’s as though she had no veins and nurses/doctors thought she was a pin cushion.

    Enjoy the Christmas Season: the music, the happy greetings and all!

    Jim Fugate in West Virginia

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