MSKCC 835 Prepares to Dive
Main Event – Days 2-5
As you might have guesses, Day 2 started back in Day 1 with a 6AM wake up call for vital signs and to hop on the scale followed by a visit by nurse practitioner and the physician team. I knew from firsts light that it was going to be a long day but there wasn’t much I could do about it other than suck it up and get through the day. I wasn’t driving and heavy equipment and my bed was never far away so how hard could it be.
A quick glance out the window at the wall, helped me focus on my personal mission of the day… getting my room moved. Everyone who entered the room got my sales pitch. The “team” pointed out that my blood pressure was still elevated. Of course it’s elevated, I’m sitting in a submarine waiting for the hatch to close. I guess that idea fell more into “alternative medicine” because while everyone smiled…. a change in my blood pressure medicine trumped my natural solution. It wouldn’t be the last time something like this would happen so I had a choice… drive myself nuts or make it a game. I opted for the game option. I reset my goal for the room change for the weeks I was growing cells, not the one where I was killing them. I’ll keep you posted on that one
The first week is a lot about routine and numbers.. Nothing goes unchecked, and double checked. I remember getting a C in Chemistry, and that was only because the teacher liked me, because an experimental error of about 20% was just fine with me. Guys like me didn’t end up in Med School. I am really starting to appreciate those kids who hit the 99.9’s and were upset they didn’t hit 100. These are the types of people on the team taking care of me… and I’m quite thankful for that.
Everything that goes into you is measured…. as well as everything that goes out… everything. If there is anything out of balance, it gets analyzed, and treated. Its like I’m a giant chemistry experiment, which of course, I am.
Everyone on the unit has more or less the same goal…. getting home in better shape then they were before the transplant, but but there is no one-size-fits-all magic formula to get there. The course I am on is day one was one dose of chemo, days 2-5 is 2 different chemos twice a day, a 4th chem on the 6th day… a day of rest followed by the stem cells. I hear that the actual stem cell part is fairly anti-climatic but I’ll let you know soon enough..
All (Normal) days start the same way…
- 6am Vital Signs and weigh-in
- 8AM Visit by the Nurse Practitioner.- The NP asks some general questions, listens to lungs and heart and gives you a good hint of anything unusual and a possible course of action.
- 8ish – RN who is in charge for the shift comes in and does another exam, checks lines, dressings and answers any questions. While everyone is important, the RN is your main contact. and caregiver. I love nurses… been married to one for 25 years. I’ll do a whole chapter on them later on.
- 830 ish – The medical “Team” , consisting of a Doctor, a Resident and the Nurse Practitioner. Your lungs and heart get listened to again and any medical issues of the day are discussed. As long as everything is OK, you don’t see this group again until the next day
- Housekeeping comes in right around this time and cleans the floors, bathroom and empties the trash.
- 9Am – First bag of chemo is hung. There are always 2 nurses at the beginning of this part. The one spells out the patients name, from the patients armband as well as the patient ID. As long as the 2 match, the bag is hung. The rate of drip is entered by one and confirmed by the other and you’re “Off to the races”. Once bag one is complete, the same procedure is repeated with the 2nd chemo. I’m looking at the clock this moment and its a little after 1. This same procedure is repeated 12 hours later so my day ends around 1AM.
There is no set schedule for the rest of the time. Meds all seem to come in a bag and are easily administered. Some of the drugs are to help manage the side effects of the Chemo. Some are ordered by the “Team” and others are to manage the side effects of the side effects. It’s pretty much a numbers game and all part of that chemistry project… me.
My white count was 1.5 this morning. The mission is to get it to 0 before the Transplant on Tuesday. That’s the medical part. On the psychological end, then the count gets to 1, you are not allowed out of your room until it gets back up on the other end of the process. I am told that day will be tomorrow. The hatches close and submarine will officially dive under the waves.