My first immunotherapy infusion! Hot fucking damn!
Definite mad dash of a day! I want all of you goddesses (and men can be goddesses, too!) thatI took screenshots of all of your good wishes and your oh-so-helpful phone calls that you sent to me today! Molly, your timing was IMPECCABLE! It all went into my Day One journal, which I also keep.
It was a funny day yesterday.
My brother Tom called and texted me. I said I had survived my drive to MD Anderson. He texted back that Houston is “one of the more exciting places I have driven race-car style.”
I had to wait three hours to get my CT scan—they are short staffed and busy. Hmm, wonder why? So that meant that I was missing appointments with my radiology doc and my endocrinologist. Who were calling me, but didn’t call me until I was in the scanner, so ….
And that is why MD Anderson is definitely honing my sprinting skills. I pulled on my clothes as quickly as possible after I jumped off the scanner bed and went sprinting down to radiology. I came screeching to a halt at the check-in desk at radiology just as they called to see where I was. Dr. Spiotto, the radiology doc, came sprinting into my exam room himself and basically said I was doing great. Multiple times. I am wrapping those words in a fuzzy blanket and holding them close to me. Forever.
“Just go get your pembro,” he said, apparently the generic nickname for the Keytruda that I get infused with.
And then, the nurse came in, and Molly, we HAVE to do the fake eyelash thing, they look SO GREAT and weighed me and took my blood pressure as fast as possible. It was the third time a nurse took my blood pressure and it kept steadily climbing as the afternoon went on!
So then I went sprinting through the hallways again, slowing to a power walk whenever I was near anyone because I didn’t want them to worry that I might knock them over and came screeching to a halt in endocrinology.
Only to find that the doc had left—those were all the calls that I had missed when I was getting scanned.
Just then her PA , Ms Khoja, came out. She was leaving for the day but recognized me—and she had not seen me since, y’know October!
One reason it’s good to have spiked platinum blonde hair. It goes both ways. If I were a bank robber, it would be a definite disadvantage.
Okay, quick backtrack to when Sarah and I first met Ms. Khoja, way back in early October
“Hmm,” she had said, looking at my neck and the surgery scar, which then was gross as hell.
“Yep, that swelling is necrosis, typical ,” she said, as Sarah and I both gasped in horror. “And the incision looks inflamed.”
Sharp intake of breath on Sarah’ and my part.
Then her gaze shifted.
“Did you lose an earring?” she said.
Yup, I had. I’d left it back in radiology or something.
So, fast forward back to yesterday.
“Dr. Radu had to leave,” she said apologetically.
“But,” she said, and quickly looked around the waiting room, which was completely empty, clearly keenly aware of HIPAA concerns.
“Oh, don’t worry,” I said, “I don’t care about that…” I almost said “that shit,” but cut my sentence short because they don’t seem to swear much here at MD Anderson.
“Okay,” she said. “Dr. Radu said your blood work looks fine, you should get your infusion.”
Her gaze shifted.
“Did you lose an earring?”
She must have wondered why I howled.
“I don’t think so,” I said through my laughter.
“Oh, I see it,” she said. I was wearing hoop earrings that Eliana had given me for Christmas and one was caught under my mask.
So off I went, this time just walking quickly, to get my infusion.
And guess what?? I had met my nurse, Jennie, on an earlier visit to get chemo! That’s when I had learned that she had been born in Korea but raised in Houston. And she remembered me because she is a fan of the the Korean boy band Big Bang, and remembered that Maddie, my rock star niece, had toured with Taeyang, the star of that group who also has his own solo career!
And then she and another nurse went through protocol for the Keytruda, triple checking that I was actually me and the Keytruda was actually Keytruda and that it had been prescribed for me. And then she started the infusion.
When I was getting radiation, I would throw myself on that table and after they’d strapped me down, I’d imagine gilded golden gates to my body opening and my cells running, giggling and laughing, up to the rays and grabbing their hands and them running off together to find cancer cells to oxidize.
I just did that instinctively. But I subsequently read that attitudes like that make a difference.
So as I sat in that bed and the Keytruda started running through my veins I just went deep into my immune system, which was a different kind of place, it feels way deep inside me and just envisoined the Keytruda and my immune system bonding. Forever.
“That’s great,” said Jennie, nodding in approval when I told her.
It took 30 minutes.
And then, I was done and I took the elevator down to the first floor to head toward my car. I was really, really happy, but also somewhat exhausted, not for physical reasons but for emotional reasons.
So I called my brother John to talk to him as I picked up my car from the valet parking at MD Anderson, and drove to Sarah’s. Taking NO freeways.
And I got to pet Sarah's dogs, Argos and Ajax, and then we went to dinner.
And now, here we go, me managing a chronic condition.
Phew. Wow. And am I thanking God, Universe, friends and family, for getting me here.