It’s Happening To You

At about 3 o’clock this morning, as I sat in the Emergency Room of St. Mary’s Hospital, waiting for a nurse to bring me my discharge paperwork, I put my iPod on and an old John Prine song called (take a guess) “It’s Happening To You” came on. The song, of course, is a general lost love song, but the simplicity of Prine singing “Oh yes, it’s true, it’s happening to you” struck me in that moment as something that applied to my life. That’s been the most trying part of the past few weeks: is this really happening? Didn’t I do my time, didn’t I pay my penance already?

But wait, you ask — what was I doing in the ER? Oh yeah, that’s a funny (not) story. You see, the first day of my treatments is supposed to be a 24-hour infusion of the drug Taxol. To do this they send me home with a fancy pump that slowly moves the chemo to my insides. So, everything was going just fine until about midnight, just as I was changing into my pajamas. The pump started alarming, indicating that there was air in the line. I tried to reset the alarm a few times, and then called the oncology clinic line and got the on-call doctor on the phone.

He was generally unhelpful, and basically told me that I would have to wait until the morning when my chemo nurses could purge the line and start the pump again. I listened to him as a dutiful patient should, and followed his advice for about a half hour. The problem with waiting until morning was that it would set back the infusion by at least 8 hours, meaning that my treatments would be more than likely bumped back another day — putting me in the hospital on Sunday for a treatment too. There are lot of reasons this was a bad idea, I thought as I lie in bed trying to decide if I should turn the pump off completely or try to get some sleep with a piercing alarm that went off about every three minutes. One of the biggest problems with setting my treatment back, or delaying the other two drugs starting, was the urgency that Dr. Arbaje conveyed to me about starting treatment right away. Aside from that, we are also taking blood work and having a CT scan very soon after my first week in order to assess my responsiveness to the TIP protocol. This assessment is critical to the decisions we will need to make about my treatment. It seemed like a risk to delay at all for such a relatively minor problem with a piece of equipment.

So, I got up, got dressed, packed the pump up in my clinic-issued fanny pack, and drove the two minutes to St. Mary’s. I got there at about one o’clock, and left about quarter after three. Most of that time was spent trying to sleep on a souped up gurney in a private room. The nurse had never seen the pump that I had, nor had the doctor. We simply reset the pump until it started working, while making sure there were not dangerous air bubbles in the line.

I went home and turned the light off at four o’clock. This morning, after the pump seemed to be empty, I headed for the chemo ward, arriving at about 10:30. I’ve been here now for four hours receiving my Cisplatin and Ifosfamide — the drugs I will receive daily for the next four days, as well as other supporting drugs. Fortunately, it does not look like I will be receiving steroids during this treatment, which is a relief, since the steroid side effects of my first chemo treatments last year were no fun.


Indiana here we come…

We have an appointment to see Dr. Stephen Williams at Indiana University in Indianapolis in about two weeks. We will meet with him the day after we meet with Dr. Arbaje to evaluate the efficacy of my first week of chemo. At this point, Dr. Williams now appears to be within our insurance companies network, which is better than what we originally thought/were told. Perhaps we won’t have to pay as much out-of-pocket to receive treatment from the leaders in testicular cancer research (would this be a good spot to remind those of you still on the fence why you should VOTE FOR BARACK OBAMA? Perhaps.).

Again, thank you all for your love, support, mojo, prayers, vibes, energy, thoughts, words, (lotsa) food, and all-around “being there.” It means the world to us.


5 Responses to “It’s Happening To You”

  1. glad the pump got back to working. you need to listen to some more up beat music. i know you know todd snider, but you need to hear his live album “near truths and hotel rooms.” it’s a classic, and he tells some hillarious stories on it. if you don’t have it, i can send it to you with some other stuff (hope you like bluegrass).

  2. think you did the right thing by going in to the hosital… going to be in your neck of the woods next week… Software conference in Lisle, Illinois.

    Been in the loop for everyone of your entries on this page (crappy of me that its the only way I keep up with your lives)

    Love to you both!


  3. You should have called a drummer. We never sleep.

  4. Greg (Cara's dad) Says:

    Cara told me about this link.
    I am a long way away but please know you are in our thoughts and prayers. Sure hope you continue to keep this information going. Seems I recall a saying an old friend of mine had during our latin phase – something like “non illegitemus carborundum” (we always thought that meant “don’t let the bastards get you down” )- might not be right but I like the message.
    I am a real luddite with respect to blogs etc, as Cara can attest, but with her assistance I think I can keep track.
    Not up on the music – most recent stuff that I have been listening to is Johnny Cash greatest hits, and Bruce Springsteen singing Pete Seeger (gift from my neice in London). I think this is great stuff (others may disagree) Told you I was a luddite.

    Will be in touch

  5. Yes, Jeff, send along the Snider. Like you, I’m an iPod shuffle man. Whatever song pops up, I try to embrace.

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