Today was another big day – I had my Busulfan (type of Chemotherapy) test dose administered first thing. It wasn’t a full dose, mind you; I was given about 10% of what I’ll start next Wednesday. Today’s goal was to see how my body metabolized the drug, in order for my doctors to determine the appropriate dose.
Honestly, there were no issues, and I tolerated it very well. I was given anti-nausea medication as a prophylactic, which just made me feel a little sleepy, especially when combined with a light narcotic pain med (minus the Tylenol) for residual Line Placement and biopsy discomfort.
The day, though, actually started with a trip to the coffee bar on the atrium level. I’m a sucker for cappuccino, and NIH-level caps are actually really good. Then my nurse surprised me with another COVID test. I would have preferred a pop quiz on chemo drugs, but whatever.
Then it was onto the Busulfan. I wasn’t sure what I expected – but basically a second nurse needed to verify that I was being given the correct drug and sign off on it. Then it was hooked up to a pup, and to the drug and voila. I listened to the machine administer the medicine over a 2-hour period. It was over before I knew it, and the empty bag was disposed of in a special chemo bucket (which originally I thought would be a throw up bucket for me, but thankfully wasn’t).
And then I had a blood draw. And then waiting.
And another blood draw. And more waiting.
And this went on for four hours, but it was OK because I read Harry Potter, tried to find the 100+ point word on Words With Friends (yes, I’m competitive there as well), met with multiple doctors, talked more about the Jackson Hole WY airport (only airport in a National Park!), found out that I had skin cancer on my ear (likely accelerated due to my GATA2) but determined that it would not affect my transplant and that in a few weeks, it will be removed at Walter Reed (the NIH doesn’t have a skin surgery department, interestingly. Nor do they have an ER), and had my first ever round of acupuncture. And boy, that was a long sentence.
Anyway, the acupuncture was great – the lady who gave it to me was very kind and reassuring about all medicines. And I like alternative medicine – am completely into a total body approach. The problem was that she left the room with me stuck full of needles, showing a lot of skin. And then a new doctor, one whom I had not yet had the pleasure of meeting, walked in.
He stared at me. I stared back at him. Except that I couldn’t move because I was stuck full of pins.
He introduced himself, but maybe it’s the chemo, or anti-nausea meds, or the fact that I felt very embarrassed and never wanted to remember this moment EVER – but I couldn’t even recall his name. At one point I stopped him mid sentence and just apologized, “this is so awkward for me,” I stammered. He looked at me and said, “yes, wearing masks is awkward.”
Um, okay. I still don’t know what to think – but guess he was trying to make me feel less embarrassed, but there’s just no way of doing that when you’re flat on your back stuck full of pins. I wanted to crawl under my bed and into a hole, but the needles prevented any movement whatsoever. Well, fuck. One day I’ll laugh about this, but today was not that day.
By 3:30 I was getting my final instructions from the nurses on 3NE, and by 4, I had made it back to the family lodge. My backpack felt heavy and pulled a bit at my central line – but overall, it could have been worse. And if you speak Minnesotan, you’ll understand it was actually unpleasant. I had a not-so fully balanced meal of crab sticks, chili-lime chips and cottage cheese for dinner. Yeah – that total body approach to health? Yeah, that went out the window pretty quick. Driving was out of the question for me, as I had already taken pain meds.
So that’s it! I’ve got a round of Dental appointments tomorrow morning, and then an empty day after that. Andy gets into Baltimore late, and I’m looking forward to spending the weekend with him – even if it’s a boring, socially distanced one from mostly everything else. It will be with someone that I love very much, and that makes me happy.