Thursday, August 18, 2005

Day One

curative cookies!
curative cookies!,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
My first full day in the hospital was a busy one. I slept fitfully the first night after Gail left, and only shortly after I fell deeply asleep at around 5:00 am an early-bird friend phoned me at 7:20. Ten minutes later I was wheeled out for my first test of the day, an MRI brain scan. The technician was friendly, and piped our local classic-rock station into my headphones as the machine is quite loud. (And quite small. I never knew if I was claustrophobic, but apparently I'm not, even with my head immobilized in a white plastic mask and inserted into a tube.)

Back in my room by shortly after 9:00, and to my chagrin no breakfast, but two pitchers of a chalky barium dye to infuse my system for the next test, a CAT scan. They gave me until 10:30 to put away two liters of the stuff - the second pitcher was the hard one - and then took me down for the scan. This one was easier, although the couch was uncomfortable for my sore back, as they only scanned my torso and hips.

Again back to the room at 12:05, where I began inquiring about LUNCH, since I was getting hungry; the many quarts of liquid running through my bod, from the various testing dyes and the constant saline drip, do nothing to keep the stomach from rumbling. (They do, however, keep me shuffling across the room lugging my IV stand to the bathroom.) Happily, I learned in short order that I was getting lunch, and my first run of chemotherapy, and a radioactive dye injection - all at once. A doc from my oncologist's office figured we could sneak in one bag before the bone scan, thus the isotope dye; which came with the cheery warning that my urine would become radioactive, and that I would have to handle it carefully! The chemo tick-tocked into my IV through a timed release over the next 90 minutes, with no noticeable effect; they said that the side-effects could be expected a few days later. Meanwhile I ate my lunch, every bit of it.

I was finally picked up for the bone scan about twenty minutes late, and made my third trip of the day to the basement (traveling everywhere in an escorted wheelchair, of course; the novelty is wearing off fast). Then I was left outside the imaging room door for a long spell, long enough that I fell asleep. Finally the tech brought me into the dim room and asked me her questions - EVERY separate testing department asks me the same questions, and requires that I sign releases. The series of images for my bone scan took the longest, since the table and me each had to be repositioned for each shot. The sequence required six frontal images to capture my skeleton from head to toe, including my skull from left and right; then two more for my arms; then four from under the table to get my back from shoulders to hips. For many of the plates I was able to watch the monitor to see my ol' bones in realtime; fascinating, especially my own skull, while I'm boggling away inside of it.

Dave blogging away at Mercy Hospital
It was nearly three hours until I made it back to the room, and when I got there my mom had been waiting over an hour. We visited for a while, then two of my close CAP friends came by (bearing cookies! Welcome, since dinner was lame) and eventually Gail came too with my radio and other goodies from home. Thankfully the nurses are lenient about visiting hours - and more - and didn't mind that we curled up together in bed to watch a movie on her Powerbook. Having done so, I am now using it to compose this entry, for her to post in my journal later.

Again, many thanks to the friends who have called and written. I can read my email and the comments to my journal on my cellphone, and I do appreciate them very much. My local friends are welcome to visit me too, although I've been warned that I mustn't be exposed to anyone with colds or communicable illnesses; my immune system is going to be severely depressed by the chemotherapy, and I'm getting two more treatments tomorrow.

(Email is still appreciated; I don't think computer viruses pose any threat!)