I arrive at the facility at 8:30am to start the first session. Now during the chemo orientation, we were told the wife would be able to spend the day with me, to help while away the hours -- I'm told to expect 7~8 hours for the first session.
The first thing they present me with, is the waiver. I inform them that I have authorization... it came in at 3pm the other day. OK, no problem. I do, however, spy the dollar amount on the paperwork. $13,400.00. I ask if that is per session, or for all 6. Just the one. I used to think that my health insurance premiums were a little high, and complain about the $25 co-pay. Not any more. Not any more.
Then, we are informed that because this is a specially arranged session with limited space, she will not be able to stay. The wife does not like this, but she accepts it -- after a while. She is, however, permitted to stay while they prep me, and until the actual treatment begins.
They start you out with some Tylenol and a benadyrl drip -- helps with some of the minor pain, and to prevent some of the allergic reactions you may encounter because of the chemo.
So, off the wife goes. Shortly after she leaves, the real fun begins. The nurse comes at me carrying a large bag filled with clear liquid wearing something just short of a hazmat suit. This is not encouraging.
"Should I be concerned?"
"Well, this is the Rituximab. It is very caustic. If it gets on the skin it can burn and damage it."
"And you about to inject with with that?" (I'm not sure the dosage, but it's more than a quart.)
"It's the first of the four."
"OK. Let's go."
The first day went rather slowly. No adverse reactions, and at the end of the session, the nurse was a little surprised that my vein didn't show any signs of damage.
You see, the chemo drugs are toxic, and tend to damage what they come into contact with. Depending on the number of sessions, and combination of chemicals, the medical staff may talk to you about installing a port into your chest... This is basically a direct tap into your blood system, bypassing the veins in your arm. This can and will help lessen the damage done to your veins.
I didn't refuse the port -- in fact, I'd be OK with it, but the doctor thinks with just 6 sessions, and the fact that my veins are "good", I should be OK. The port requires outpatient surgery, and doctors are loath to do surgery if they don't have to.