Maintenance Period 1; Weeks 2 and 3

17 Aug

Hello again everyone. I apologize for not posting last week. I was feeling pretty beat after chemo and never got around to posting. I decided I’d just give a brief overview of the previous week in this posting.

July 8th, Round 2

Everything started normal for week two. I arrived at the day hospital and the place was almost deserted. I don’t know if I’ve even seen it that quite. My dad and I have discovered that if you arrive a half an hour early, you have a much stronger chance of being one of the first people treated. As soon as we checked in I took my registration over to triage where they immediately took my vitals. As soon as they finished taken my vitals I was called into a neighboring room to have my port accessed. I was nervous because it was my first time having the port accessed.

It’s a much different process having a port accessed than getting an IV. When you get an IV, they simply clean the sight where the incision will be and then insert the IV. When having a port accessed I had to wear a face mask and the nurse had to clean the area of the port for thirty seconds before she inserted the needle. Apparently needles for ports come in three different sizes: three-fourths of an inch, an inch, and an inch and a half. Because it was my very first time having a port accessed, they used the three-fourths inch needle. There was still quite a bit of swelling around the port because it was still just a week old. It took the nurse a minute or so to pierce the port. Once she did access the port she took blood for my weekly tests. The line was pretty sluggish getting blood return but it worked just fine.

Almost immediately after the nurse finished accessing my port we were called back to meet with my oncologist. It was definitely looking as though arriving just a half hour early makes a huge difference. The meeting went very smoothly. All my medications and chemotherapies were going to be the same a the week before. After a quick and easy exam from my oncologist we headed back to the day hospital to start my chemo. We were making record time!

Back in the day hospital I quickly began my regiment of medications. Like the previous week I had to take Benadryl. Unfortunately it had a similar effect as the previous week and I was all jumpy. Once again I felt as though I wanted to crawl out of my skin. Once the reaction finally wore off I fell asleep. Because the line was so groggy it took my chemo regiment four hours to finish! Normally my regiment only takes around two hours. Still the four hours passed and I was finished my regiment for the week.  In the grand scheme of things, it was a pretty normal week of treatment.

July 15th, Round 3

Like the previous week we decided to arrive at the hospital a half hour early hoping to beat the rush. When we arrived the hospital was packed! It was one of the busiest mornings I think I’ve ever seen. I turned in my papers to triage, but the place was overflowing with people! After waiting for about twenty minutes (longer then we’d normally wait to go back to triage) one of the nurses came out into the waiting area to get me. She told me that because triage was so packed, she was going to access my port before triage. We went back to a different part of the hospital where I went though the same port accessing routine that I described in the previous week. It was a little less painful this week because the swelling had come down a considerable amount. However, this time the nurse used an inch long needle. You could tell as soon as she used the longer needle that everything was flowing much more easily and that the chemo would be much less difficult going through the line.

After my port was accessed I went back to the waiting room. However, it was then only a few minutes before I was called back to triage. It look as though things had lightened up. As I was going though triage one of the nurses told me to grab my dad as soon as I was done and to go back and meet with my oncologist. This was really surprising because the hospital was packed! Regardless, we weren’t complaining.

When we met with my oncologist things were very routine. My oncologist had a visiting medical student from Austria with her who was extremely nice and interesting to meet. There was one big item on our agenda though: Benadryl. The stuff had made me kinda crazy the previous two weeks and I was really hoping we’d be able to come up with a solution. As soon as we brought it up with my oncologist, she decided that it was unnecessary. I couldn’t have been any happier about this. In my mind no Benadryl is good Benadryl.

After a quick exam I was taken back to the day hospital where I began my treatment. The one inch needle was obviously the way to go because the chemo was moving at it’s regular speed. While I was in the day hospital we met a family with a little four month old baby who has a tumor right behind is eye. I had met them once before. However, this time they gave us the news that the tumor had almost totally calcified! This was amazing news. The family is from Utah and it really put how lucky I am to be living in Philadelphia into perspective. I live near one of the best children’s hospitals in the world and people travel from all around the world to be treated at CHOP. The whole experience has made me feel so blessed.

Thank you for following my journey. I’ll do a better job posting after each week’s treatment.

-Josh

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