31 August 2011

Red is the new green

Apparently Herceptin can cause heart problems, so Dr. Oncologist declared that it was time for another MUGA scan. Having not been injected with chemicals in nearly three weeks, I suppose I was due for an IV. Not that I wanted one, but they have become a normal part of life.

Sadly, beating the odds to have something go wrong has also become a normal part of life. That is why I have trouble believing the doctor when she says things like, "You are young, so you're heart is fine. It's usually only seniors that have heart problems from chemotherapy." And I'm so young that it's probably just a benign cyst.

With all that in mind, I flat out refuse to go to the doctor alone. Even for a simple scan. So Matt drove me to doctor's office, via Starbucks, this morning. Things immediately went downhill.

"Your appointment is for September second, not today."

"Excuse me?"

The receptionist pulled up the doctor's order to show me. Lo and behold, I was right! Huzzah! Except that because the date had magically mutated between the order and the computer, they didn't have the radioactive goop ready. Could I wait a an hour and half? Sure, that sounds delightful!

Matt and I decided to be more useful than the receptionist and headed over to the tailor shop to have Matt's new suit tailored. Not the epitome of excitement, but better than waiting in the reception area.

Upon our return to the doctor's office, everything was ready. The technician plunged and IV into my right arm and prepared to draw 3mL of blood. Except blood refused to come out. I was already nervous that something horrible was wrong with my heart, and now he couldn't get any blood out of that nice, thick vein? AGGHHHH! Panic!

He explained that this occasionally happens due to valves in veins. He could keep trying to get blood out of the current hole, or he could poke a new one in another vein. I opted for door number two, if only so I wouldn't have to see my vein, and therefore my heart, keep failing.

Hole number two was a success, and I happily escaped to the reception area to wait for them to attach radioactive markers to the extracted red blood cells.

When the blood mixture was ready, the technician came for me, lead medical box in hand. It's always fun to get an injection from one of those. Glass syringes in lead sheathes always make me feel safe.

I started feeling yucky while in the scanner, but that's nothing new. By the time we were in the car and heading towards my office, my face was burning and was noticeably red. Just once, I'd like turn to into a green super villain, but, alas, the nuclear medicine injections are always benign.

Matt pointed out that if I walked into the office looking like I did, it would be "suggested" that I go home. He also had this crazy idea about calling the doctor. Both sounded like excellent ideas. The doctor said that reactions aren't unheard of and I should take a Claritin and call back if I didn't return to normal in an hour or two. More excellent ideas.

The Claritin returned my face to its normal color, but it didn't completely alleviate the general yuckiness. Clearly things were getting boring again, as I discovered an itchy rash while typing this post. An itchy rash right next to the injection site, inside my right elbow.


I left a message for Dr. Oncologist, and as of right now, I am still waiting for her to call back. Further updates as this story develops.

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