02 June 2010
My standard chemo day is every other Tuesday. The routine is always the same. I arrive to UAMS somewhere between 8 and 9 am, and spend about 30 to 45 minutes having lab work done, primarily blood samples for their review. The lab work includes a vital sign check, temperature, and several blood samples taken from my port. The process is always the same . . . to look for reduced blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and a variety of other indicators that I can neither spell or pronounce. Here’s one – “polymorphonuclear as percent of blood leukocytes.” Because I intend to remain a public relations consultant and not grow up to be a doctor, I have decided that it is the job of my oncologist to understand all of this – NOT ME!!
Anyway, I then move from the lab into about a one-hour waiting period – waiting for the lab results to be completed and forwarded on to Dr. Makhoul. This usually means a cup of coffee, sometimes breakfast, at the UAMS café. The great thing for busy patients like me is that UAMS has a free, fast and easy to access Wi-Fi. So I usually spend this hour working.
I then move on to the Oncology Clinic and wait for my appointment with Dr. Makhoul. Most of the time the wait is not long. But when you are a patient of Dr. Makhoul’s it’s golden. He never is rushed, takes his time to review your lab work, always an examination, and tells you everything you need to know about your progress. But more importantly, he listens. What you have to remember about the doctors at UAMS is that they are “teaching doctors.” No question is trivial or unimportant and they spend all the time you need to tell you all that you want to know. Dr. Makhoul keeps all of his notes on a computer (I would imagine the others do too) so as I’m telling him about symptoms for the past two weeks he’s entering it into my patient record. It’s normal to have 30 minutes of face time with him. I LOVE MY DOCTOR!! I never leave not understanding where we are or where he’s going with my treatment. We’re a team and I always feel as though I’m leaving a strategic planning meeting clearly understanding my marching orders for my part of the treatment plan.
From the oncology clinic, we normally make a mad dash for the café to pick up a quick sandwich, then on to the Infusion Center. This is where they administer chemotherapy. The first four chemo treatments were Adriamycin (also called “red devil”), which only takes about one hour to administer. However, the final four treatments are a chemo drug called Taxol. This down side of this drug is that some patients experience various allergic reactions. So, they always administer a Benadryl injection (which makes me very sleepy) and the drug is administered very slowly, taking approximately three hours to complete. After a quick nap, I usually pull out my laptop and check emails and work on whatever writing project I have at the time.
As you can see, this is an all day adventure.
Up until this week, I’ve been able to manage quite well the chemo treatments around my responsibilities at the office - like I said, until this week. Yesterday was my standard chemo day, but yesterday afternoon I needed to be a part of an agency presentation. So, for the first time I split up the day. Yesterday I did my labs and had my appointment with Dr. Makhoul. Then I went to work. This morning I will report to the Infusion Center at 8 am for my chemo treatment. It worked out nicely.
So, I must close. On to the great and wonderful UAMS, the enchanted place for people like me searching for a cure. I like chemo treatment days. This is when my body receives the magic juju that will kill The Beast we call Cancer.
Posted by Stacy Sells at 7:27 AM