Friday, April 11, 2014

out damned pump

Mark just had his pumped removed.

He's feeling a bit lighter for not having to carry it around but his arm is pretty sore.  We stopped off (I say "we" but I actually vegged out in the car, this cold is not getting any better) on the way home so he could have the community nursing folks take it out and flush his PICC line. 

It was a busy spot but I'm sure it's easier to stop off there than it is to wait around at the house for someone to show up and do it for us there.

So far, so good, as far as chemo side-effects go.  If he starts to feel rotten over the weekend, we don't have much planned so he can just rest up.

I know that is what I'd like to do because I will be a much happier camper when I can talk, without choking again.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

one down, eleven-ish to go

@taxichef has officially started chemo #KGH #cancer #cancersucks
Sometimes, the anticipation of something is far worse than the actual event.

If you are the type of person who always goes to the "worst case scenerio" when preparing for something you really don't want to do, that thing will often seem easy to deal with when the time comes.  If not "easy," perhaps tolerable is a better description.  Mark's first chemo session was definitely tolerable.  The day on the whole though, was exhausting.

Due to some miscommunication between departments at the clinic, poor Mark had to have his CT Scan and his PICC line installation done yesterday morning and then chemo in the afternoon.  He came through it all really well though and we were both pretty impressed by how smoothly the whole thing went.

The KGH Regional Cancer Centre is housed in a brand new facility.  Very spacious, bright and lovely.  From the windows you can see a stunning view of Lake Ontario and the Wolfe Island wind farm.  It was pretty quiet when we were in there.  I think that there were maybe only 2 or 3 other patients receiving their chemo during Mark's visit.  Because it was so quiet, I felt really bad whenever either of us coughed or blew our noses - yes, we both have horrible head colds right now.  First time all winter.  We've both had the flu this year but not a standard-issue cold, until now.  It's annoying, and frankly, gross, but it's not debilitating like the flu was.  We were advised that as long as we didn't have fever, it was okay to be there. 

Upon arrival at the clinic, Mark was given some anti-nausea meds and then he started to receive his chemo drugs and some fluids via IV into the PICC.  It took about 2.5 hours for the first half of his chemo meds to be delivered.  When the bags were empty, the nurse hooked up his pump.  He was given a little belt and a pouch (looks a lot like a pencil case) to wear.  The pump holds the second half of his chemo meds and they will be delivered slowly over a 46 hour period.  He was a little concerned about sleeping with it on but it was actually okay. I mean, our colds kept both of us up for most of last night but the pump was fine.  Last night before bed and again this morning, he had to take more of the anti-nausea medication but so far, he's not experiencing any side effects. 

His pump will come off tomorrow afternoon and in two weeks, we'll repeat this whole process again.  It's hard to know if he will have any side effects from his medication.  Apparently this particular drug is well tolerated by most folks so we're hoping that Mark will find that as well.

I guess when you've been through surgeries and all of the stuff that comes with it, sitting in a recliner for a few hours, hooked up to an IV isn't so bad.  Keeping our fingers crossed that the rest of the sessions will be as easy.  

Monday, April 07, 2014


Mark's first chemo day is Wednesday.  Less than 2 days from now.

He's scheduled to get his PICC line put in tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. and is supposed to have a CT Scan tomorrow as well.  That will be a lot of poking and prodding.

Wednesday afternoon he'll be receiving his first dose of chemo and we'll learn more about this pump thing that he'll have to "wear" for 2 days.  We have a lot more questions than we do answers right now but hopefully, it'll all go smoothly and we will be well on our way to figuring this stuff out.


Friday, April 04, 2014


Our sump pump is getting a workout right now.  We're under a heavy rain advisory and I cannot get over how much water is pouring out of our downspout right now.  Crazy.  The dogs won't go out, it's bananas.  The upside of this is that the snow seems to finally be melting on our front lawn.  Thank goodness, that's all I can say.

Hoping that the pump doesn't give out on us.  We've decided to watch The Commitments again, as we wait for the storm to let up, because Mark got "can't stand the rain" into his head and now it's my head so...yanno, movie time.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

my poor brain

My head is literally swimming right now.  I can't speak for Mark but I think he's feeling the same way right now.  Overwhelmed and drained.

We visited the cancer clinic this morning for his consultation about chemo.  Prior to the appointment, we'd not been advised about the nature of the appointment...we had no idea how long we'd be there or what would happen.

In the end, we were there over 3 hours.  Of that, very little time was spent waiting (which was good and not what we're used to when dealing with clinics in general).  An entire hour was spent with an oncology resident (Dr S), probably 30 minutes with the actual oncologist (Dr B) and a good sized chunk of time with Mark's primary nurse.  Her name is Lou and we've decided that we love her already.

The entire time we were there, we were bombarded with information.  SO much information.  It was a lot to process and I'm really glad that I went with Mark.  The plan is for him to start chemo next week. He'll have it once every two weeks for six months.  A PICC line will be put in next week and he'll get his first dose in the clinic and then will go home with a "baby bottle" pump for the rest of the dose.  The pump will be worn for 46 hours and then a nurse (either in a clinic or at home) will take it off and flush his line.  He can work while he's wearing the pump, as long as he feels up to it.  Apparently the big side effect is fatigue. Of course, there is a scary long list of creepy side effects but we know that not everyone gets every side effects and certainly they don't usually get them in an extreme way.  Most of the time, anyway.

So yeah, head is swimming and we're waiting for the appointments to come rolling in: CT Scan, PICC line installation, first Chemo dose.... his prognosis is good so we're trying to remain upbeat about things but six months is a long time and at this moment in time, it's kind of hard to see the forest for all of those trees.