We had an early appointment today at the HCI. The normal routine has been that we arrive 45 minutes before the scheduled appointment with the oncologist in order to do have the lab results ready by the time Ford is seen by the doctor(s). Then we go right down the hall to the infusion room and get the chemo treatment.
Our schedule today had us arriving at the HCI at 7:45 am with the doctor's appointment at 8:20 am. Then, as usual, we were told to go on down to the infusion room. When we arrived at the check-in area, the woman there seem to have problems finding a chart for Ford. Then when she found his appointment, she told us we weren't on the schedule until 2:00pm. !! ?? It was currently a little past 9 am. No big deal, except for the fact that Ford is suppose to wait 24 hours from the end of his chemo treatment to receive his Neulasta injection. From beginning to end of a treatment, they figure 5 hours for Ford. That means that we wouldn't be able to get follow-up blood work and shot tomorrow until nearly 7 pm. Ouch. We overnight each treatment to be near the hospital in case something goes awry. The latest check out time they can give us is 1 pm. After that, we have to pay for another day.
The whole staff at the infusion area is awesome. If I have failed to say that in the past, please let me emphasize just how wonderful everyone is. The woman recognized our dilemma and went to see what could be done. They were in a pinch of their own. Because of the Memorial Day weekend and holiday, most all of the Monday schedule patients were scheduled for Tuesday along with the normal very busy Tuesday schedule of patients. Well, long story short, they came and got Ford within the hour. The nurse assigned to Ford was the same one he had last time. She remembered that he had been in the area where he could lay down and asked if he wanted to be there again this time. He readily took her up on the offer. It really is very nice for him to be able to be laying down and able to relax and sleep during the whole process. The only glitches in today's treatment were: (1) the IV had to be relocated almost immediately after the pre-meds began, and (2) the IV pump was very sensitive and every time the pump was set with a new drug and time, the nurse would get just far enough out of the area to be annoying when it would start to beep. It was one of the loudest beeps we have experienced on one of those pumps. Both glitches were very minor. Ford was done with his treatment and we were on our way just before 3:30 pm. Amazing! Again, let me repeat, please, the infusion room staff is absolutely wonderful!! The nurses are all professional, personable, caring, and engaging people. A big THANKS to them all.
The doctor reviewed with us the lab results (all were good) and also the report from the CT scans. The report is that there has been good progress in the lungs. There are visibly less lesions, however, scarring may be a problem to be dealt with later. Ford has two lymph nodules in the chest but because they are very small, the oncologist considers them benign. The thickening in the lining of the stomach is hard to determine by comparing scans, because the PET scan that they are comparing it to, didn't require using a contrast dye for the scan and it is hard to get a good comparison without the contrast. However, it seems that the two doctors that have been treating Ford (the Fellow and one of the head Oncologists) feel that Ford is making good progress. Scans will be redone about one month after the 6th treatment and they should be able to have good comparisons by then. At this point, it seems they feel that the next treatment will be the last one in this series.
Ford slept through most of the treatment, as I previously said. He was hungry after treatment, which is good. After eating, we checked in at the U of U Guest House and we both slept for several hours. Ford woke up hungry and was able to eat a very substantial dinner. He is tired, only slightly nauseated, but in very good spirits. He is currently listening to a show on TV with Brian Regan, a popular comedian and a favorite with some of our family and friends.
I will end with Ford's observation shared with his attending nurse today. A majority of patients receiving chemo treatment have a PORT installed for the duration of the treatment. This allows direct access for blood draws and infusions without the continual need for IV's or finding veins for needle "pokes" or "sticks" every time. Ford cannot have a port because of the increased risk of blood clots. Ford told the nurse today that observed that there are two types of patients. There are the Port-ables and then there are his type: he is in the IVy league. (-;