Phase Three... Ready? Go.

I think I've officially entered Phase Three of this leg of the journey. That is, if you consider Phase One to be chemo, Phase Two to be surgery, and Phase Three to be post-surgery treatment. Who knows, anyhow. I think perhaps I'm safer calling it the "next" phase... potentially of many.

In any case, I believe that my entrance through the doors of the Sonora Quest Lab may have marked my entrance into the next phase. I tried to stifle the feeling of 'ugh', as I'm well aware that this weekly blood draw will be a regular event for quite some time to come. Small price to pay. I signed in, and waited. Waited. And waited some more. This place usually has me in and out of there in about 15-20 minutes, but today? Not so much. On top of the waiting, my favorite phlebotomist (flee-bow?) Paul was headed out the door. Finally, after telling me that my standing order was going to expire on February 1, they called me back. I had a new (to me) phlebo who seemed pleasant enough. She may not have been new to the job itself, but after going in there weekly for the past six-plus months, I've seen every phlebo in there multiple times. This one? New to me. After verifying the necessary information (two N's? 1971? 3305?) she took a look at her canvas.

"Oh. Just this arm, huh?" (nodding) "Did you have lymph nodes taken from the other?" (more nodding) "OK, then. What's usually a good place?" (Oh boy...)

She went through a couple different needles before choosing a good one and wrapped the tourniquet around. Poked my veins with her finger. Looked. Poked. Looked. Then, went in for the stick. It rolled, she got nervous, and instead of fishing around, decided to take out the needle and look around some more. Sigh. She then left the room a couple of times, rummaged around in the drawers, and finally came back with a butterfly and syringe. "I am going to go with the syringe, I don't want to blow out any of your veins." OK, fine by me. Tourniquet on. Poking. Looking. Poking. Looking. "You know what? I'm going to get Barb. She might have better luck than me trying to stick you again." Oh boy. Good thing she was pleasant, because this was taking for-effing-ever.

I hear some mumble-mumble in the hall, to include the other phlebo telling her that she can stick twice before having to get someone else... long story short (too late), Barb comes in, says, "Oh, I've drawn you before." (Yeah lady, everyone in town has drawn me before) Thankfully, she tourniquets, pokes, looks, finds, draws, and sends me on my way. 45 minutes after I signed in. OK, such is life - I'm not any worse for the wear.

However, each incidence of them trying more than once to find a cooperative vein brings up one of my phobias. THE PORT. Oh man, I know I'm going to fight that one kicking and screaming all the way to the OR if that's the course I eventually have to take. Yeah, yeah, I know. Suck it up. Small price to pay. All these small prices seem to add up after a while, don't they?

Anyhow, the return to Sonora signified a return to reality (or something of the sort). I suppose I need to allow myself to get back to this routine of blood draws and infusions. It's been such a welcome respite, being out of doctor's offices and labs and scanners for a while. Alas, I knew it was fleeting. However, sometime along the course of an otherwise pleasant night, I had a moment.

A moment of, "Oh god, I don't want to go back there. Please, please don't make me go back there." Which was immediately followed by a string of ridiculous "what-ifs" running through my crowded mind. What if the side effects weren't all from the Taxotere? What if I need a port? What if I start to swell up again? What if it's too much on my heart? What if I don't want to talk to anyone back there? Meanwhile my inner voice was exclaiming, "But I'm feeling GOOD. I'M FINALLY FEELING GOOD! I don't WANT more drugs in my veins!!!" What I unfortunately forgot is all too simple. THIS is what I wanted. This option is victory! Thing is, it's STILL what I want. I guess, for a moment, I forgot.

The strangest part of all that is that it was the first time in a very long time that I found myself a little sad. However, realization of the fact that it was so long since I had been sad was actually quite enlightening. Also, it's amazing how therapeutic it can be to pet a grey dog's soft ears for a little while. I've still got this thing beat, in the long run - chronic or not. I just had to get past the fact that I still had work to do, and that the break was just that. A break. Now? I have to lace up, show up, and after today, realize that this is the easy part. It's a small price. Yes, another. But I'm determined to ride this wave as long and as loudly as I can. The truth is that this is the easy part. Big deal. Herceptin. No debilitating side effects, no fatigue, no hair loss. I think perhaps, I just got temporarily spooked.

Today, I'm going to show up with a smile, like I always do. I get to tell Dr. Cav that I'm going to ride this wave, and go with the Herceptin, until I am forced to make another decision. Then, I will walk back to that chemo suite (after the mandatory waiting, of course), stick out my arm, and expect that they will find a vein (and most likely will have taken my precautionary Ativan). Half an hour or so later, I'm going to walk out of there, still strong and fuzzy-headed, knowing that this truly is a small price.

After that, I'll head off to tackle more important things, like the business of growing hair. I hear it's even dark in the dark these days...



    love you jen. thoughts are with you.

    On January 30, 2008 at 10:40 AM alyson said...

    ready? Set? GO! I will lace up with you.

    I soooo get the port-phobia-reluctance whatever and I remember all too well the "I don't want to go in there - don't make me go in there" feeling, but the reality is that the going in there is what will keep you alive....but you know about this. Next time you get the "I don't want to go in there's", give me a call and I'll go in with you.....cuz you got this thing beat!