Wednesday, October 26, 2005

walking the halls of oncology

It’s the top of the 7th inning in the World Series. Honestly, I haven’t paid much attention to the Series nor this game tonight. I have been playing Medal of Honor on my labtop for the past hour or so while the TV plays in silence. Since the score is still tied 0-0, I feel like I have missed anything yet. So, while my TV plays in mute, I decided to type my blog entry for the day. If I don’t do it now, I fear that I won’t do it at all.

Today was my first complete day at the hospital and it has gone quite well. I had visitors, which was pleasant. I ate all three meals, which is of course good. The food was decent. The best parts, I think, are the tea, hot chocolate, and the Sara Lee pound cake. The mash potatoes, which I ate yesterday, surprisingly weren’t too bad either. When it comes to potatoes, I opt generally for bake potatoes, so the favorable taste of the mash potatoes came with delight.

After almost 11 hours of the necessary IV hydration, I was given the beginning of the DICE regimen around 1 pm. My mother and godmother, who visited me this afternoon, were here to witness the first infusion of the chemotherapy, which was an exciting moment I thought. Drama filled the air. A pair of nurses wearing blue protective aprons brought the drugs into my side of the room, where my mother and godmother sat watching and asking questions about the process. However, the nurse who actually hooked the chemotherapy drugs onto the IV machine wore a clear plastic mask, while her partner gave her the instructions. Within a few minutes, I was hooked up and the chemotherapy was entering my body via the catheter. I was pleased to see the catheter working finally. I remember staring intently at the infusion of chemotherapy as it traveled via the catheter into my chest. It’s remarkable. Indeed, after 11 hours or so, I was ready to finally to get this adventure going. It may seem strange, but I actually felt excited about the whole process. Perhaps my anxiety was manifesting itself finally. Now, ask me how I’m doing a few days or a week from now and I may not be so gallantly hearted.

Sitting in the hospital bed isn’t very good to do for too long. I really need to make a dedicated effort to get up away from the bed and try to stay as active as possible. So, I spent some time in the adjacent chair reading a book and looking at barges and tugboats snail up and down the East River in front of Roosevelt Island. This was particularly enjoyable in the early morning as the sun was rising in the east and shining brightly into my room. The warmth of the sun felt so revitalizing. And then, throughout the day I took several walks around the length of the oncology unit. I needed to get up and walk around even if it was not very far. Since I didn’t take the opportunity to explore the floor yesterday after I was admitted, I did it today. The oncology unit, which is where Nick and I are, is sandwiched between the geriatrics and stem-cell/bone marrow transplant units. I was told by the nursing staff to limit my activity to the zone marked for oncology. However, on my tours of the oncology unit near its far end, one finds the double doors that lead to the stem-cell/bone marrow transplantation unit. So, I figure that in about another 4-6 weeks, I’ll call that area home.

Walking around the unit in my pajamas felt a bit uncomfortable at first, but with each walk I felt more confident. The unit and its corridors are full of doctors, interns, physician assistants, nurses, and other staff members going about their business and there I am in my jammys and t-shirt pushing my IV pole. I felt like some kind of rodent in an enclosed environment with nowhere to go and being the object of so many strangers’ looks and stares. At first I remember feeling a bit uncomfortable to look directly at the doctors and staff who I walked pass. I felt quite strange. I had done something wrong, of course. I remembered quickly that all was well here and I began, thereafter, to walk around the unit with greater ease and confidence.

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