For those who just want the short version, I am alive and I have a pint of real live iron in me, woohoo (: I’m sure you’ve never heard someone say that before, and I hope you never hear it again.
(Except from me every friday from now until the end of February, haha)
If you are one of my strange or curious friends who have asked to hear the whole second part of the story, here you are:
Getting prepped for the second infusion is much like last week’s, except this time they have a nice line-up of steroid/Benadryl cocktails beside the bed ready to go, and a big sign on my forehead.
While getting my BP monitor hooked-up, the nurse gets a kick out of the look on my face while I stare in horror at the needles on the tray. Apparently it isn’t the most enthusiastic expression in the world. She urges me look away from the needles and do something else, so we decide to capture the excited expression on my face instead.
After she’s done laughing at me, the nurse says “Oh come on girl, you can do better than that, smile!”
Just for her, I give it a try:
Nurse: “Hmm. Maybe we’ll just give that another try after we get this done. That’s just sad.”
Yes, yes it is.
Once the IV is in my arm, she slowly begins administering the new form of iron, staring at me like I’m some small explosive device thats about to blow. The doctor has decided to do the test dose without pre-medicating me to see how I’ll react first this time. The nurse asks me to let her know if I start to feel funky so she’ll know if I’m going into anaphylactic shock again. I tell her not to worry, that the last time that happened everyone in room knew my body was going berserk in it’s own charming way. No words necessary
The amount she’s giving me is incredibly small, and it’s going in incredibly slowly.
She’s halfway through and I think we’re good to go when I feel a sharp pain in my lower back. Thinking it’s unrelated, I begin to shift in the bed/seat I’m resting in, trying to adjust how I’m sitting. Suddenly I begin to feel woozy and light-headed and like I’ve just downed several very strong drinks.
Without a word she pulls the test dose out, glances at the BP monitor and numbers dropping, pulls a bottle off the tray and shoots me up.
“Um, please don’t tell me..”
Nurse: ” Yes, you’re allergic to this one too honey, your blood pressure is dropping. I don’t know what we’re going to do with you but don’t worry, I just gave you a good amount of steroids that will counteract it, and we caught it after such a small amount, you won’t go anywhere near where you went last time.”
She’s right, and soon enough my blood pressure begins to normalize and I start to feel better.
Internally I’m beginning to feel more than a little discouraged and wonder how I’m ever going to get a foothold on this if everything I put in my body is treated like it’s poison.
My nurse goes to talk things over with the oncologist and returns with not-so-favorable news. He says there is only one other form of iron to try, and it’s considered the ‘big dog’, even more potent than the two they’ve already attempted. So we can either take that risk with a new scary iron, or drug me up now and go ahead with something we know I’m allergic to but might go in ok if I’m protected by steroids and Benadryl. Then we’re left with blood transfusions.
She just said the magic word. Blood transfusions? Heeeeeeeeeck no.
I tell the nurse it would be a shame to waste a good dose of steroids already in my body, so lets go ahead and drug me up with the rest of it. They go over the risks with me, making sure I understand that they just confirmed I am allergic to what they’re about to administer, but in best case scenario the steroids should keep me from going into anaphylactic shock.
“Well that IS encouraging, now isn’t it? Look, I really cannot do blood transfusions, it’s just beyond the realm of possibility for me. Ever. So if this stuff is the end of me, so be it. I’ve got better places to be anyway. The truth is we all know now I’m going to allergic to anything we try here, right?”
“Well, then it’s now or never”
I take a deep breath, say a prayer, and close my eyes while she hangs the stuff. It looks sort of like a coffee drip, and my nurse says it smells like a good cup of joe too. To keep myself from being afraid I tell myself that is all it is. I’ve always said I need a coffee drip.
Dun dun dun. Yes,that tiny little bag of espresso-looking stuff is whats causing all the hubbub. Well, it’s my body fighting the tiny little bag, but whatever, I want to get the happy part of the story.
It goes in. Nothing happens. It’s like hearing the sound of quiet for the first time. Beautiful.
Yes, it’s true, I make it through an entire infusion! The good little steroids do their job well and I am able to complete everything without experiencing much of a reaction at all. The only adverse effect hits about 15 minutes prior to the end of the drip and I start having pretty intense back pain. As long as it’s not putting me at any risk, I tell the nurse I can deal with pain.
About ten minutes of feeling this I begin trying to lie down in a chair that does not recline to try to relieve the level of pain. I look ridiculous and the nurse suggests a dose of morphine to give me some relief, but I tell her sincerely that with the luck I have with medication, I will more than likely have a reaction to that as well.
And then we’d be in DEEP do-do.
Plus, she says there is a good chance the doctor won’t let me continue with this form of iron next week if he learns of the pain I’m in, and may want to start the blood transfusions instead.
Let me tell you something, my friend. It takes some amount of crazy to turn down morphine when you’re exhausted and starving and in that sort of pain. But, that is how badly I want to get this done and over with and avoid blood transfusions at all cost.
Boy did I want that morphine.
But c’est la vie. I push through it by telling myself that the pain means it worked and the iron is in me. They want to monitor me for any other post-IV reactions for a while as they run saline to clean the drugs out. Four hours later we take a ‘thumbs up’ shot (which the nurse thinks is much better than my fake/sad smile picture earlier) and I’m outta there.
Oh. Where are my thumbs? I guess we didn’t get them in the shot, they were tired too.
I pick up a beautiful meatball sub on the way home and find myself more grateful than I can say. One down, only 3 more to go. I will sleep well tonight.
If these steroids ever wear off.