Saturday, August 05, 2006

Chemotherapy 1

Anne-Marie's first chemotherapy treatment was on Friday.

The day started by a quick trip to Dr. Burgess' office in Tualatin. After our short appointment with her, we drove up the freeway to see Dr. Smith at Providence Portland Medical Center.

Traffic was unusually light so we arrived at 12:15, which was 45 minutes early for our appointment. This gave us enough time to sit in the car and eat a snack.

What we didn't know is that the clinic was running an hour late. After blood work and a consult with the doctor, we found ourselves in the treatment room at 2:15.

The treatment room is a big, open room with recliners and I. V. poles all around the exterior. Chemo veterans sit in their chairs and talk about their families, nurses that used to work at the clinic, the weather. Some listen to their iPod or enjoy a snack. Blankets, candy, coffee, puzzles, and books are available. Food, laptops, knitting, and, yes, spouses are allowed.

After getting all the necessary pre-treatment medication, Anne-Marie's treatment, which was set to take two hours, began. It was 3:00.

The chemo is a series of precisely-timed injections. Some are manual; some are slow-drip. In the middle of this process, the nurse administers a dose of Adriamycin, also known as "the red devil." It's called this because it looks like cherry Kool-Aid but is toxic enough to burn the skin if it escapes the syringe. The dose takes about ten minutes.

The slow start left us unprepared for the quick finish. The last I. V. stopped dripping and they sent us on our way. It was 5:15.

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