I started round two this morning and Mike said, "Round Two - Ding Ding" like I'm Rocky Balboa off to fight Clubber "Cancer" Lang. Maybe I'll just be Laila Ali, since she is Muhammed Ali's daughter and a good fighter (as well as an excellent dancer on, "Dancing with the Stars).
We arrived at NIH about 9am for my appointment to put in a PICC line and the guys who work in that lab are comedians. When we arrived, they glanced hungrily at Mike's coffee and muffin from Au Bon Pain and told him that he had to pay either a $5 co-pay or hand over his goodies Mike smiled and calmly ate his muffin and then told him that the $5 was pro-rated since he had already eaten most of his muffin. They were all giving each other a hard time and making jokes, which made me a little calmer. I hadn't been able to eat breakfast because of the procedure so I pointed out to the guys that Mike was also making me jealous with his food. I also mentioned that I used to stop at Starbucks every morning for my Grande Skim Chai, but now I have to limit my caffeine so I haven't had any chai in a long time. One of the techs suggested a nice Persian decaf tea that they get from this deli in Gaithersburg (Zam Zam's). I pressed them to find out where it is and found out it's in the same strip mall as Zio's Pizza (which they had never eaten at). I love me some Zio's Pizza and just ate dinner there with Mom and Mike tonight thanks to my reminder this morning. Yum, margherita pizza with lots of tomato, basil, and garlic!
I mentioned to the tech that the reason I couldn't have a PICC line in last time was because of a blood clot above my superior vena cava leading into my heart and asked what made it different this time. He immediately said he didn't feel comfortable and wanted to talk to my team about this. The outcome was that he really didn't feel comfortable with the procedure so he and my team sent me down to special procedures so they could put in another IJ line like last time. This one is a little more uncomfortable because I developed a rash on my chest and they had to go slightly above the rash. I had taken my Adavan (anti-anxiety drug) already so by the time I got down to special procedures, I was definitely a little loopy (Mike enjoyed that).
This time I knew what to expect and they had my records from last time so they knew what to do. I also asked for a mild sedative during the procedure. As a result, I was awake during the procedure but kept dozing off and on throughout. One serious side effect of being home more often in the afternoon is I watch such classic TV shows as "The Golden Girls". This came back to haunt me today because while I was dozing during the procedure, I kept dreaming of recasting "The Golden Girls" with today's starlets, but I couldn't get past Lindsay Lohan playing Blanche Devereaux! I could not think of a single young star to play Rose or Dorothy and it was making me crazy! One thing for sure is that one of the Olsen twins can play Dorothy's mom because those girls are so tiny.
Once the procedure was over, they wheeled me upstairs to the Day Hospital so I could receive chemo. Mike thoughtfully carried all of my stuff for me and stayed with me throughout the day. He was there to fetch the telephone so I could order breakfast and he moved the TV so I could watch more "Golden Girls" episodes. After I finally ate breakfast (more Froot Loops in case you were wondering), I took the benadryl and tylenol PM that they gave me prior to starting chemo. I knew that I would fall asleep pretty quickly so I wanted to eat something first. Sure enough, they started chemo and I tried to read my book for a few minutes, but I soon fell fast asleep. I slept the entire four hours, and woke up right before the bag of rituxin was empty.
We came home and then my high school friend, Mary and her husband, Steve came to visit. I've known Mary since I was either 15 or 16, so about 10 years now ;-). They are in town because Mary's mom has been really sick and is currently in the hospital. Mary is pregnant and due in July (yay, Mary!!) and she has a lot on her mind with the baby and her mom. Please say a prayer for Mary and her family, especially as she heads home to Colorado tomorrow. I'm really glad I got to see her with her baby "bump" and before her life becomes a little more hectic. She's going to make such a wonderful mom, I just know it.
Mom came over to see me since she didn't make it to NIH before I was done and we decided to have dinner at Zio's while I still feel well. Dad stayed home because he's still a little sore from his fall last week. At dinner, we planned the menu for dinner on Sunday with my family since my brother's birthday is May 8th. I have one evil idea for a gift for Michael, but I'll need to borrow some accessories from NIH tomorrow to pull it off. I'll tell you about it here later if it works out, but my cousin, Gina gave me this genius idea for Michael's birthday that I simply must do.
Mike and I plan to do some shopping tomorrow. We need some groceries for next week when I become neutropenic again and I'm going to stock up on some Froot Loops, milk, yogurt, jell-o, pudding, and Gatorade so I have something to eat when I don't feel well. We also plan to go clothes shopping because he needs some new clothes for work and I need some track pants or something with a drawstring so I can hold up my pants. I've lost so much weight that I have to wear a belt with some pants and other pants I can't wear at all. Before I was sick, I weighed myself in January or February and I weighed 152. Today, I weigh 135. I am truly thankful that I did weigh 152 because I'd probably have lost even more weight. I plan to buy a couple of new t-shirts and track pants, but I'm not going crazy because I hope to gain my weight back.
I am adapting to my new hair-less look, but I still haven't looked full-on in the mirror without my glasses off. It is a lot quicker for me to shower now and I don't have to use a gob of shampoo or conditioner anymore, which I do appreciate. I have worn headscarves, but I haven't played with my wig yet. I may do that tomorrow when we're shopping just to see how it looks. While I was at the Silver Diner yesterday afternoon with my aunt, I did encounter a lady who stared at me when I walked by her table. I seriously wanted to yell, "Yes, I have CANCER lady, what's your problem?" I refrained of course, but I did notice the stare. Mike says she was staring because I have a shaved head, but I look healthy otherwise.
I have some good news. I finally looked at my chemo schedule for the next four cycles to completion and with any luck, I could finish my last round of chemo by the end of July! When I think about it that way, it doesn't seem nearly so bad. That thought alone gives me so much hope and a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks. My high school friend, Tara is getting married in October in NYC and now I feel a lot more confident that I can attend and celebrate her milestone AND my own milestone. These next few months are going to be hard and filled with some difficult days, but as long as I see that light at the end of the tunnel, I know I will be okay. I will also plan on massage days during the small "window" of opportunity when I feel really well to help me survive the worst of it all. I feel really good about it right now.