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A long day of lung tests, chemotherapy and blood collection (from my foot!)

1:49pm. October 1st 2014. 

How I’m feeling: Still pretty rough from Monday’s chemo session. Appetite is gone. This morning I had to smoothie it to get something in me so that I could take my slew of medications. Slowly feeling better! I have some scheduled plans tomorrow – so I’m really hoping that today, another day of rest will do me good.

Monday, September 29th was an interesting day. It was an early start as usual – and I got out of there late- again as usual. The day kicked off with a lung test – to assess my breathing situation. The first thing I thought was “Wha? Can I finally get back to sweating it out in the dance studio yet?!” THAT’s what I really want to know. The series of lung tests were held at Toronto General Hospital in the Thoracic’s clinic. As the elevator doors opened to the 10th floor – a wave of emotions came over me.

The last time I was there was when I sat down with my thoracic’s doctor – before I had been diagnosed with cancer to discuss the dreaded chest biopsy back in March 2014. It was the day when I was told that I would be admitted in the hospital for the first time. My reaction to my mother who was with me at the time (who is with me all the time throughout this – thankfully) was “What? Really? Like, right now? What about my stuff? I don’t even know what I need” As if she knew the answers to any of my questions. She was just as shocked and worried as I was – perhaps even more so. I’m sure it isn’t easy to experience your second daughter going through all of this. I glanced at the pair of chairs that my mother and I sat for hours on back in March – but only a glance. I instead focused my thoughts and energy on the progression that has happened since then and signing in to get my lung tests done.

I had three different series of lung tests to do. A lot of breathing in to tubes, trying to control my breath, deep breathes, sharp exhales, panting.

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…and nose plugs. Speaking of nose plugs, I made them dance:

What?! Doesn’t it look like a musician playing the symbols? Yes?! Just say yes.

One of the tests was kind of funny to me – but definitely not for the claustrophobic. I pretty much had to sit in an enclosed sound-proof glass telephone booth-like thing and breathe in to a mouth piece with different breathing patterns. I received instructions from the technician via a microphone whom sat outside of the booth monitoring my breathing pattern graphs. As I breathed in to the tube, I noticed that I sounded like freakin’ Darth Vadar.

And then I glanced down and realized that I was wearing my newest R2-D2 shirt. I laughed to myself – and then messed up the test because I broke the breathing pattern. Whoops. No worries, I just had to do it again. Sorry Mr. Lung Test Technician 🙂

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A photo from last week, when I received this surprise tank top in the mail!

Once I was done, I had to rush on over across the street to PMH for my last cycle of chemotherapy that would prep me for the stem cell transplant blood collection (happening the week of the 13th). After hours of waiting after signing in, taking my pre-chemo meds, downing more water to try to plump up my veins for the dreaded and now expected difficult time to get an IV in me – I was assigned my room/chemotherapy section. Once I sat down, I looked over beside me and was a little overwhelmed with how many baggies of meds I was about to have dripped in to me.

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I lost count as to how many tries it took to get an IV in – but what I can say was that the wiggling around of the IV needle in me was more painful than usual. After a bunch of failed attempts, I was eventually bandaged up from my elbows to my fists on both arms. I started to look like a mummy – or a UFC fighter:

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I forgot to snap a photo when both my arms were covered in these bandages.

They called in the top dog – a specialized IV nurse to give it a try and she got it on her first shot. What a pro. The chemotherapy session was a long one – they had to drip one of the meds in me slower than usual – that particular med was irritating my veins more and  more each time and therefore was a little more painful than usual. I dozed off for most of the duration of my treatment – other then when I was awake every 20 minutes to go to the washroom. All those damn fluids.

Once I was done, I was so excited to leave and to pass out at home. But then I quickly remembered that I had another thing left to do. I had to have 12 vials of blood collected from me. The reason this had to be done is to test for things like West Nile – and all sorts of fun stuff before they go through the stem cell transplant blood collection. I had assumed that they could use the same IV that was put in me for chemotherapy to draw the blood – but oh, I was wrong. However, the nurse decided to give it a shot anyways since she knew that my veins were terrible – and she wanted to spare me some more poke-age.

No success. This was what was able to be collected before my blood stopped flowing. So sad! The needle they use for blood collection is usually bigger.

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Pathetic! Sometimes you just have to laugh it off.

After a few more attempts (again, I lost count after a bunch of pokes) and a whole lot of “HOLY COW – are you ok? You’re so mentally strong” followed by a whole lot of me looking away saying “Mmmhmm…don’t get me wrong, I feel that. All of it – but what else are we going to do?” the nurse said, can I see your foot? I thought “Uh oh – why?” (even though I knew why). I showed it to her and I could see her spot a sexy virgin juicy vein.

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Uh oh. I saw the way she was looking at my foot!

She explained to me that collecting from the foot is the next resort – but that she would have to have the procedure approved by my oncologist. I gave her the “OK” to give him a ring. After a few minutes, she came back and said “It’s a go!” And so, this happened:

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And then this:

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But then this!

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Success! 12 vials filled up one after another.

My nurse was so determined to make it happen. And that she did. The other nurses came around and said “Aw man, I’ve never done the foot! No fair” I laughed.

What a long and interesting day. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m still feeling uneasy right now – but wish me luck! I’m hoping to be feeling much better by tomorrow morning after a whole lot of resting up today. At least my spirits are high. Still some of this happening -> 😀

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The ceiling of my bedroom – with my bandaged up foot in the air.

P.S. I have some really exciting news! As briefly mentioned in my last post,  I’ve been trying to find even just 3 consecutive days when I’m medical appointment/treatment-free or not in the thick of recovering – for me to escape on a MUCH NEEDED mini-adventure and time to decompress. After speaking with my treatment team, we managed to find a few days for me to go for it! The only condition, I have to learn to give myself my own Neupogen injections. I’ve already had a few lessons but have been too nervous to do it myself. I’m going to have to figure it out – because there is no way I’m letting my nerves get in the way of treating myself to this break – especially before my stem cell blood collection, high dose chemo treatment and stem cell transplant. I’ve decided on NYC because it’s close by (incase I need to head home for any reason), it’s an easy stress-free trip for me (because I’ve been to the city plenty of times, even though it’s been years!), I miss NYC, I’ve never been in the Fall season – and I think Fall is such a stunning and romantic season and I have a plenty of people I can visit for when I want some company! I leave mid-next week and I’m back at the end of the weekend. I’m so excited :D. I just need to get away for a bit, you know?

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