Friday, June 5, 2009

Of minor mishaps and mental lapses

If you're easily grossed out, maybe you should skip this post. I thought of not writing it, but with one day's worth of hindsight I think it's kind of funny, so here goes.

Yesterday Joe drove me to my clinic appointment. I put on a pair of nice black pants, a purple T-shirt, purple sweater and black jacket. I ate my breakfast of cereal and blueberries and then, in case I threw up, grabbed the blue bag in which the newspaper had been delivered. I've continued to vomit on and off, some days not at all and sometimes twice a day.

We were about halfway there, and on time, when I felt that I might be sick. I tried to stop it by taking deep breaths, but there was no way. I grabbed the bag and lost my breakfast in it. But I hadn't realized the bag had a couple of little holes in it. I didn't know what to do. It was coming out of the holes and going all over my clothes and onto the car. Luckily, Joe had a better bag in the back seat; he reached back and got it. So I got bag number 1 into bag number 2, and at least that was the end of the leaking.

I tried to mop up with napkins, but the car fared better than I did. Since we pass Diane's on the way to the clinic, I called to see if she could lend me some clothes. Of course she said yes. In my shrunken state I'm quite a bit smaller than she is, but I found a pair of pants that I could wear if I rolled the waistband over a few times. I found a shirt too.

I didn't match anymore – gold pants, white shirt and purple sweater. But I had learned a lesson: Always check a bag for holes before throwing up in it.

The clinic visit didn't exactly put a smile on my face. My platelets, which had climbed into the teens and twenties, were back down at 8. I was disappointed, because if they stay higher I can decrease visits to once a week, and I was also a little spooked. Could it be a sign of relapse? (Melissa said no, everything looked fine, and platelets can bounce around.)

I knew my hematocrit would be low, and at 25 it was. My white count was stable at 5.8, although it went down from 7.1, where it was a few weeks ago. It always makes me nervous when that particular number goes down at all, but both Melissa and Dr. Alyea assured me that it is fine where it is. Meanwhile, Dr. Alyea said I should have an endoscopy to try to figure out the cause of the nausea and vomiting, so that is in the works.

I went on to get two bags of platelets and two bags of blood, closing the place down after 7 p.m. Diane had said she'd drive me home, and I felt bad that it got so late, but she didn't seem to mind. 

The patient next to me in the infusion room was getting chemo for lymphoma. I couldn't see him, because the curtain between us was pulled, but I could hear him telling his story, loudly, to his nurse. He said he had had a tumor on his pancreas that was causing him to lose weight and have weakness in his legs. (I'm not sure how this works, but this is what he said.)

I immediately got "hijacked." "When they do the endoscopy, will they discover that pancreatic cancer his been causing my similar symptoms"? I asked myself. 

I told myself that I have been tested so much that such a thing would have been discovered. Then I talked to Emily on the phone. "He was probably eating and losing weight. You are not eating much and you are throwing up." Oh. I wanted to pull the curtain back and ask him, "Hey, were you eating when this happened?"

Then I talked to Jeanne. "Haven't you had enough problems without picking more up from other people? You don't have pancreatic cancer." Oh, right.

Today I did the more sensible thing, which is, instead of just asking around, I talked to my nurse. We were on the phone talking about scheduling the endoscopy, and I told her my thought pattern and asked if she thought I might have pancreatic or some other cancer.

No, she said. She told me what I had told myself, that I have been tested and scanned and nothing like that has shown up. 

It's hard when you're in that infusion room next to someone who talks loudly about his or her symptoms. Next time maybe I should bring an iPod. 


Anonymous said...

See the world does need plastic bags! Half kidding. How else wouldl I be able to pick up Kimo's poop on the trails?

You are amazingto MAKE yourself eat and knowing there is a good chacne you don't keep it all down. YOu do it because you have to. IT is like another medicine. It you don't eat- you can't take the meds on an empty stomach and you want the meds to keep moving forward and gather that strenght of yours.

You inspire, bring hope and many smiles to this world. Thanks for being real while brightening my days-

Mikha'el said...

I highly recommend an Ipod and add in some noise cancellation headphones...sometimes hearing someone else's tales can be too much. Hope things improve quickly for you. Take care

S. F. Heron said...

Ronni, I don't know if this will help you or if you're on anti-nausea meds. I do have a suggestion to help with the intermittent vomiting.

Try taking a hit of Maalox before every meal. My mom had a similar problem and we've discovered that the buildup of acid causes her to throw up.

Good luck sweetie. I hope you feel better soon.


Nelle said...

Oh Ronni. I am so sorry that you didn't think to check the bag. I learned that lesson the hard way myself. When I was being radiated I would throw up at least three times on the way home. No drug prevented it. I actually took one of those washbasins from the hospital and to this day there is always one in my house. I can also relate to the angst caused by hearing another patient's symptoms. I am certain with all the probing and images taken that this would have shown up. Many things can cause stomach upset. I would try something like Prevacid (of course after checking with your dr!). I just love that you keep it so real. Here's hoping you some easier days with outfits that stay clean! :)

pam said...

Runder-Woman, again, you never cease to amaze me -- your humour is sustaining and contagious -- although my bout with cancer was a chauffeur-driven ride in the park in comparison to everything you've been through, i remembered how important word-play/song is for me,
for example when two doctors were disagreeing: "he says anal, she says vulvar, anal, vulvar, let's call the whole thing off..."
and i thought when reading your piece, not pancreatic cancer, pamcreative answer!
Only you could turn a piece on being sick into something witty and entertaining, and moving! Kudos...and your cup will runneth over, soon, your counts will be better and better,

Dennis Pyritz, RN said...

Open invitation to you and your readers to participate in the Being Cancer Book Club. This month we are discussing “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch. “...the lecture he gave ... was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think”). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.”
Monday is Book Club day; Tuesday Guest Blog and Friday Cancer News Roundup.
Also check out Cancer Blog Links containing almost 200 blog links and Cancer Resources with 230 referenced sites, both divided into disease categories.
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Take care, Dennis

Marilyn said...

Thank you for the word "hijacking" to describe this type of situation. I'd been searching for a word.

Ever since a "car" event akin to yours, I keep an old Maxwell House coffee plastic jug (2 lb size?) on the floor in the back seat of my car, stuffed with plastic bags. The jug (with a single bag) makes a good base, catching anything that seeps out and easily rinsed later. (I don't want my passengers to feel bad about the need to be sick in my car. Go right ahead! I write this more for anyone else who might be in a position to transport people.)

It's always great to read your posts, Ronni.

sabrina hamilton said...

Just checking in on your blog, as both Dan and I often do. what a cute puppy!