Chemo In Louboutins (Pt. 2)


Gussied up and ready to take on my first chemotherapy treatment.

The dress is perfect — short sleeves for the IV, roomy for comfort and stylish, of course. The shoes divine — only the second time they’ve been out in public. Hopefully, they will help calm the fear of the unknown.

Had to be at the hospital early as I am taking part in two clinical trials* — one where they poke my chin and give me $20 and the other where they check my heart is still ticking and throw me a $10 credit for Potbelly Sandwich shop. The easiest money I ever made.

After that, one of the nurses took my blood as she has every other time I visited the doc BUT now it was all about the shoes. “Fabulous” was the consensus! Every blood-taking nurse had to have a look. Told them that they hadn’t seen anything yet!

The doctor was waiting for me when I went into the examining room. He was super enthusiastic as he geared me up for what was to come: the four IV drugs, Benadryl, saline after to flush everything away and various other oral medications to prevent uric acid build up, nausea and fever. I signed the waiver that allowed them to start the process and back to the waiting room until my name was called.

I came to realize that it was all theoretical until that moment that your name is called. Until then you can only guess how it’s going to be and how you’re going to feel. Now there was no going back.

My folks had joined me for my debut session and the chemo nurse led us down a semicircular corridor with room after room full of people getting chemo. At least that answered my first question — we all had our own separate rooms…thank the lord.

My very chirpy nurse, Julie, came in and started going through the whole procedure with me: IV, four drugs, three by syringe, one by drip, first they would test to see if I were allergic to one — that would take a half hour, then a Benadryl drip, then Tylenol and anti-nausea drugs by mouth, then all topped off by the saline drip — like a waiter listing the specials for the night.

She found the biggest vein in my arm and in went the IV. While the test drug was dripping away, Julie proceeded to give me all the advice she thought I would need for the months ahead. Thank goodness my parents were with me because it was a load of info to deal with: eat smaller meals more frequently; always have small packets of food with you; if you don’t do exercise already, don’t start; don’t start flossing your teeth now; and MOST importantly, if you are tired, rest. She told me that the one thing that gets people down the most is not feeling 100% like themselves — not the chemo, not the hair loss, but the fatigue. Be nice to yourself, she said, it’s so important.

Very quickly it became apparent that it’s not easy to do much while you’re sitting there — forget needlepoint. If the IV is in your arm, you can’t turn a page, so forget reading. The adriamycin, bleomycin, and vinblastine all went in without a hitch but as soon as the dacarbazine started, I knew the fun had begun. Dacarbazine is a curious drug. It is quite harmful if it leaks out of your vein and it hurts like a bitch going into your vein. They need to drip it very slowly and with a load of saline to accompany it. Also, your vein goes into spasm, so, at the same time, it feels as if someone is slowly tightening a tourniquet around your upper arm and squeezing it to buggery.

This is where the importance of the Louboutins comes into play. Looking down at those lovely black and white striped pieces-de-resistance made me remember why I was here and what I was fighting for. When the nurse came in to tell me that they would have to make the drip faster (faster=pain) because all the nurses left at 7pm. I didn’t let loose with “WTF!…I’m suffering here and you want to get leave on time.”

I breathed and gazed down at my feet.

*The two trials are:

1. Biochemical Control of Tumor Bioenergetics and X-ray Response

2. A Multicenter Study in Patients Undergoing anthRacycline-Based Chemotherapy to Assess the Effectiveness of Using Biomarkers to Detect and Identify Cardiotoxicity and Describe Treatment (PREDICT):

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