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One Mistake Led to Another – Conflicting Instructions from Doctors

Chemo Mediport Selfie

The SNAFU that started with the cancellation of my Mediport insertion last Friday continued on Tuesday when I went for my first chemotherapy session.

Some things go well from the start, other things sputter along for a while until they get going, and my chemotherapy is a strong candidate to fall into that second category.

My daughter, Sarah, drove me to Unity Hospital in Greece where at 9:00 AM on Tuesday. At Unity, I underwent a procedure to insert the Mediport under the skin of my chest.

Having a Mediport means I won’t have to get a needle in my arm every time the doctors need to give me an IV of any sort including all kinds of medicines.

The Mediport insertion wasn’t bad at all; they gave me a sedative and the next thing I knew the procedure was over.

In a strange twist of fate, diet restrictions for the Mediport insertions were, “No food after midnight,” while the diet restrictions for the chemotherapy were, “Eat a full meal beforehand.”

So after we left the hospital Sarah and I grabbed a quick lunch at Burger King before she drove me out to the Interlakes Oncology offices in the old Lakeside Hospital in Brockport.

Burger King was definitely Plan B, we had planned to eat at restaurant where I could get a BLT, but the procedure took so long that we barely had time to grab a quick meal at Burger King.

It is not a place I eat at very often, but I enjoyed the burgher and the coffee was tasted good too.

We go to Brockport with a few minutes to spare and I started my chemotherapy at 1:30 PM.

But the nurse read me every last word on the list of possible complications and as a result, we didn’t get out of there until after 4:30 PM, and I was exhausted.

The oncologist even walked over to Sarah’s car in the parking lot to apologize for the procedure taking so long.

Then Sarah and I went out eat dinner at the Golden Eagle Family Restaurant in Sweden, just south of Brockport.

The nurse who administered the oncologist had told me me that the nausea usually caused by the chemo medicine - Fluorouracil (5-FU) will usually not hit until the next day or the day after.

I had no nausea Tuesday night, but my chest hurt like the devil where they put the Mediport in, especially since they used the Mediport during the chemo. When the nurse disconnected the needle for the Fluorouracil (5-FU) it hurt so much I thought I was going to faint.

I had no idea why until the visiting nurse came by yesterday afternoon to check the wound.

She said that it hurt so much when the nurse disconnected the needle for the Fluorouracil, because to disconnect the tube for the chemo, the nurse has to squeeze the Mediport to make sure it doesn’t move.


The pain was bad, really bad, but it was nothing compared to the chest pain I had felt that made me call 911 and started me down the road to learning I had Colon Cancer and not food poisoning.

On a scale of 1 to 10, the pain I felt when the nurse removed the chemo tube from the Mediport was definitely a 10.

But the pain I felt in my chest when I called 911 was at least a 15 or 20 on a scale of 1 to 10. It was a struggle just to take a breath because the pain was so bad.

Tuesday’s trip to the oncologist’s office was incredibly painful but it could have been worse.

I can still use my arms and my legs, and I am still able to use my hands to pick up small things and pound the keys on my keyboard to write these articles.

I can still use my mind to analyze situations and come up with possible solutions, even if some of my readers think I’ve lost my mind.

But I’ll keep a smile on my face and take whatever life gives me because my cancer treatment hasn’t triggered nightmares or flashbacks of the days when people really did make their living shooting at me.

I’m doing okay. I’m still breathing and nobody’s shooting at me.

No matter how bad it gets, anything is better than that.

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, and Mary Anna Towler published an article about The Great War in this week’s City Newspaper, Rochester’s Alternative Newsweekly.

No matter how bad the chemotherapy gets, the experience will never be as bad as the experience of the soldiers and civilians caught in World War I.

No insane charges through No Man’s Land; no tanks, no poison gas attacks; no endless artillery barrages, no fire bombings from Zeppelins I can’t see or hear.

Compared to that, chemotherapy is going to be a cake walk, no matter how bad it gets.

Look at it this way; I can always laugh at the SNAFU.

After jumping through hoops to get through two radically different medical procedures in two different towns yesterday, I’m laughing at myself because now I have to juggle dealing with two diametrically opposed sets of instructions from two doctors.

The instructions from surgeon who performed the laparoscopic right colectomy operation say to keep active and that walking is recommended. In fact, the surgeon has told me I should walk as much as possible every day.

So I’ve been taking a brisk walk every day and I have increased my activities gradually until I was walking a little more than two miles each day and feeling really good about it.

Then on Tuesday, the nurse who handled the chemotherapy at the oncologist’s office gave me instruction to avoid the sun, and to wear clothing and eyewear that protects me from the sun.

I guess that means that I’ll either have to do my walking either early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the sun; or I’ll have to wear long sleeves and long pants regardless of the temperature.

I’ll have to change some other habits too. Yesterday morning, I planned to sit on the front porch and read the newspaper as I drank my coffee. But then two things happened to change my mind.

As I put a small table on the porch next to the porch rocker, I was overcome with nausea. So I did exactly what the nurse who had administered my chemo had told me to do. I immediately took a prochlorperazine pill, which the oncologist had prescribed.

When I went to sit on the front porch to relax, I realized that I’d be sitting in the sun, so I turned around and went back inside. I realized that I’d be sitting in the sun, and during chemo that is a no-no.

The best laid schemes of mice and men gang have gone awry again.

But I’m going to smile about it because smiling beats the alternative.

To Be Continued.

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