Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blogging from the (Infusion) Chair

 A funny (or at least to me) story about infusion. When I first started at Dana-Farber, I remember people talking about infusion all the time and it took me a couple of weeks before I realized that chemo equals infusion. Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer, while infusion is the way in which the drugs are delivered. There is something called oral chemotherapy which involves taking pills versus having the meds infused.



 


Anyway, cycle 2, day 1 has started and as you see from the pic above, we had a room (or chair) with a view. Here are some general observations.

  • Dana-Farber is a world-class cancer center. Some of the best doctors, nurses, researchers all together in one place to focus on cancer. I love that. It's why I work here and why I chose Dana-Farber for my treatment.  What I love more is how everyone makes you feel when you come here. It's not just that they smile and greet you by name, at every step of your journey. It's not just the warmth and compassion that you can hear in their voice and see in their eyes. It's the way they treat you. In a world where healthy is the normal and you are the odd-man out; they treat you like you're normal -- as a patient, sure, but as a normal human first. 
  • I just got a Get Out of Dentist free card. No dental work for the entire six months. Awww. Probably should still brush my teeth and floss though.
  • Last month, infusion started at 10:30 and we left after 6 pm. Today, we should be done by 2. Woohoo!
  • I have two Dana-Farber identities - patient and employee. Today they met. Barbara, my nurse practitioner who I saw this morning just came back from Rwanda where DFCI just opened a clinic with the Rwanda Health Ministry. We spent a good part of my visit with her this am to talk about her writing guest blogs for our Dana-Farber Insight blog.
  • The infusion regimen begins with just plain old fluids and then we know we're onto the real stuff when Sara (my infusion nurse) comes in with the gloves and gown. That protects her from the chemicals that are going into my body. Ironic. 

  •  Oncology is a tough career -- and when you ask doctors and nurses about why they pursue the career, they often talk about the close relationships they form with their patients. As I go through round 2, I get it, more than I ever could before.  It's not just a closeness, but almost a possessiveness that I feel. Sara is my infusion nurse. Dr. LaCasce is my oncologist. I don't know the nurse who took my vitals, but it's the same woman all the time. Barbara is my nurse practitioner. The phlebotomist is mine too. 
  • So it's no surprise that I was very glad to see Dr. LaCasce when she  stopped by a few minutes ago to check up on me. There was no clinical need to do that, but since I saw Barbara instead of her this morning, she just wanted to see how I was doing.
It's likely round 2 will follow the round 1 routine which means by Saturday night/Sunday am, I'll be starting to enter fogland, which occasional excursions into nauseaville. I plan to take it easier this go round. If the fog lifts enough, i hope to post something again this weekend.  
--Michael