Settling into a routine of chemotherapy

Published5/19/2008 12:06 AM

I always look forward to Wednesdays. This past week, I took my usual turkey sandwich with me to Glenbrook Hospital, where I go for chemo each week -- just in case I'm delayed getting back to the facility where I'm staying in time for lunch.

The routine is pretty uncomplicated. Many patients settle into "lounge" chairs and fall asleep.


The first half of the visit is devoted to analyzing numbers. Before infusing cancer patients with chemo, staffers like to be sure they aren't going to create more problems than they solve. They must be sure the body can tolerate and benefit from the chemo.

I grabbed the blood test report while it was still hot off the printer. We were good to go.

Outbound and inbound substances go through the same port below the collar bone.

The IV nurses get the saline infusion going and then connect the mixture of chemicals custom blended to do their work, not make me sick, and keep other side effects to a minimum.

Each week seems busier than the one before. My personal analysis is that more people are being diagnosed earlier than in years past.

Those of us who are there at the same time often compare the effects of these brews.

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For me, dry and itchy skin are regular concerns. My legs and feet are peeling and, as I write, I notice that one knee looks like a commercial for a dandruff shampoo.

No moisturizers work well, but I'm still looking. Neither the extent of the dry skin, nor the itchiness is rated on the charts.

So, I make sure my nails are perfectly smooth, acknowledge that not even dagger-nails will satisfy the itching skin over my ribs and chuckle as nurses and aides cluck over scratches on my back.

I must admit I was pleased that I took my simple turkey and lettuce sandwich, that all went as scheduled and that I arrived back here in time to wonder what to do with a hot turkey lunch.

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