Monday, October 29, 2007

Mystery unraveling

It happened again….

I went into the City to start the third treatment cycle after my aborted attempt last week. Everyone seemed a little nervous.

I talked first with the nurse program coordinator and with my oncologist, as I always do on infusion days. They were particularly interested in how I’ve felt this past week. My doctor was now leaning toward the theory that my freakish episode last Monday was the result of a bolus of Genasense getting pushed too fast into my system. She wanted to exercise caution and have me stay in the center for observation for about an hour after starting my IV pump. That was okay with me since I had my computer with me, as I always do in such situations.

I went to the treatment floor to start my infusion. Everything went smoothly. I ate my lunch (not pastrami) while waiting for the drugs to come up from the pharmacy. The infusion nurse drew blood from my arm rather than through the mediport. She started the IV and I sat in my cubicle for an hour or so while it pumped quietly. Several people poked their heads in to see how I was doing. Everything appeared fine.

I heard the nurse on the phone at her station telling someone that I looked good. She came in to tell me I could go home. I leaned forward to pack up my computer and…. “I don’t think so,” I said. All of a sudden I felt the heat rush, the nausea, the dizziness, the closed throat. “I think you should take my blood pressure.” And sure enough, it had suddenly fallen to 84/53.

Oh no, here we go again. In minutes I was throwing up and feeling faint.

“Once is a fluke. Twice is an allergy,” My doctor said as they pumped me with steroid, Benadryl, oxygen, and she made the decision to abort treatment again for another week.

I am so bummed!

“What are we going to do?! Can’t we just keep the pump going and I’ll live with the symptoms?” I asked.

She looked at me as if explaining to a child. “I’m not going to kill you with this treatment. We’ll come up with something.”

And she will. She has more experience with this drug than anyone else, and she hasn’t seen this kind of reaction before. But maybe the drug company has some information to share. She will come up with an altered plan by next week. Maybe we’ll continue Abraxane and Temodar, the killing drugs, without the Genasense. Maybe Genasense has done its work and the other two can continue to finish the job without it.

This is not going to be an easy week. I’ll try not to speculate and worry too much. The medical details are, after all, way beyond my expertise. But it sure was comforting to have a plan and simply be able to follow it. This business of being unsure about where I’m going is scary. The best part is that I know I’m in good hands and I trust my doctor to come up with something. Until I know more, I’m going to fight the urge to let it get me down.

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