The second stage of my cancer treatments have begun. I am calling it the ‘harvest’ stage. Over the course of ten days, I will take medications that will prepare my body for the ‘harvest’. Having a harvest requires a crop, and in my case, the crop are the stem-cells that my body creates. I’m not a doctor so I am only able to give my layman’s understanding of what is happening to me.
Day One was the first of March. On that day I received a very large dose of chemo meds. It is meant to kill off all my white blood cells, both the healthy ones and the cancerous ones. It is also a heavy enough dose to cause hair loss, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, bladder failure and the chance of a few other side-effects. That’s right, I am now living one of those pharmaceutical commercials you see on television, where there are more side-effects then benefits. I used to make fun of them, now I am one of them!
The process on Day One started at 7:30am and I was finally released just before 2pm, just over six-hours. Over that time, I received five different infusions of multiple medications, one being the base saline drip to help me stay hydrated during the procedure. This was the first thing that was hung on my IV tree and the last thing removed. It was replaced twice over the 6-hours and for the first 2-hours was the only thing happening. That didn’t last though, and it wasn’t long before my tree started to get more IV bag decorations.
The IV that I had affixed to the back of my hand was a long plastic line that had multiple access points along the tube. Different medications are inserted into access points and into my body along the main line. The whole thing reminded me of the way I had done my early DIY electrical work. One main power line with junctions cut in where I wanted them, wires attached with coloured caps. My IV line looked more professional, but as more medications were added, it did start taking on the same look. It’s funny what you think of when you’re held captive by medical treatments.
With about an hour left in my treatment the nurse appeared with a large syringe. She told me it was told make me urinate because they had given me so much fluids. What?? You wanted me hydrated and now you don’t?? Isn’t there a happy medium here?? Five minutes after it was inserted in my IV line and administered my bladder started to tell me that I needed to do something or I would wet myself. I had to empty my bladder every ten minutes after that!! Every time the urge hit me, I would have to get up, unplug my IV tree from the wall sockets that powered it and wheel the cumbersome unit to the washroom. I kept running over the line that was so long it dragged on the floor, and continually jammed the tree’s free movement. It would teeter and the IV bags would sway, as I bumped my way to the facilities. I swear, I hit every obstacle there was in the room that was in my path!! It’s hard enough to move these IV trees around normally, but when your body is telling you to hurry or risk an uncontrolled voiding of your bladder, it is damn stressful!!
When the time came to unplug my IV, I felt a little light-headed. Why wouldn’t I? I was now dehydrated! I was given all the medications that I required for home treatment over the next nine days until the actual ‘harvest’. This included another large syringe filled with a cloudy liquid that I had to take at precisely 3:20pm. I was told to mix it with juice or soda to mask its taste. That was motivating! It was everything that the nurse had advertised. I mixed it with lemonade and it tasted like I imagined lemon flavoured floor cleaner would taste. What was this liquid for? To help my bladder function and make me pee more!! I now understood why I had been instructed to drink 12 cups of liquid a day for the next few days. I was going to need it!!
Even though I had been awake since 4am, I didn’t find sleep until 11pm. I should have been exhausted and I was, but having to pee every 20 minutes was making it hard to consider bed! And its not like sleep helped! The urges kept waking me up and made me have to get up and go potty! The night went on forever!!
After Day One of the ‘harvest’, my body had been prepared. The field was cleared, and was now ready for new growth. To be truthful, I really shouldn’t be complaining about all the urinating, because the vomiting began on Day Two. Sitting on the toilet had been a whole lot better than sticking my head in it.
This is going to be a tough ten days.