Monday, September 21, 2009

Rituxan Day for R.A.

I strolled in at 11AM, plunked down my 20% ($1,128.00) and headed to the back of the oncologists' office to prep for my first run of Rituxan for rheumatoid arthritis.  The bulging vein in back of right hand looked good.  The Thing 1 (phlebotomist) placed the IV perfectly, popped the vein and slipped right in, but it hurt like the dickens.  "Owie-owie-owie," and I was sooo ashamed to be such a baby, especially since they use a baby-sized butterfly to stick..  Shoot, I've had so many vien punctures, I could do my own, but this one was something.  Much more uncomfortable than if had she hit a valve.  Thing 1 had to work to get a stream and partially fill three tubes, but by the time she had wiggled and moved the IV tube in and out of my vein, back and forth, stretched the vein, anything to coax my vein to cooperate, the first tube coagulated.  It was incredibly uncomfortable.  When she tried to rinse the tube with saline, it wouldn't budge and it was clear that the vein had blown out and a big bruise was growing.  Left hand, not uncomfortable at all to start, but the blood just wouldn't come.  Another blow out, complete with bruise.  I drank a second bottle of water, said a prayer, and the head nurse (Thing 2) came in, smacked me around a bit (okay, so she struck my arm with two fingers to surface a good enough vein) and chose one slap-dab inside my elbow.  "Do you mind having it here? You will have to keep this arm straight."  "Do I have a choice.  And will you be my official page turner today?" This vein held.  Blood volunteered itself like it was off in the races, three full vials were drawn, then off to the recliner room with my book and blankie. My doctor popped in, sat in the recliner next to me and we chatted for a minute.  She was happy to get her feet up for a minute and we did our appointment while Thing 3 strung me up.

The first bag that went in my IV was a small bag of steroid: solu-medrol, which was followed by an IV bag of Benedryl. It felt warm going in and made me feel warm from the inside and groggy, like drinking a few shots of rum.  Next was a mongo-sized bag of the Rituxan, like the last two IVs, was nice and clear like glacial water.  I was glad it wasn't flourescent green or any other disgusting bug-guts color.  The drip was ultra-slow (one drip per four seconds) on purpose, as they were watching for rejection.  I was doing fine, listening to music on my iPhone, but too groggy to read the pages of a book.  The back of my throat felt really dry and almost sore and I reached for my water.  Moving made me realize my entire torso was itching/burning, like I had just had a mass attack of fire ants.  How fast do you think I can move the little line pincher?  You got it, and I did!  Thing 3 and Thing 4 examined my face, neck, and torso, stopped the IV, and sommoned Thing 2.  I was allowed to go to the bathroom and remove my bra that was making the hives feel much worse and examine my situation in the mirror.  Entire torso, starting at the face, ears, neck, and going down to my thighs was a giant red and white welt. 

A new mini-bag of steroids was started, this time Dexadron, followed by another bag of Benedryl, and another timid attempt at the Rituxana.  This time, it was a success.  The bag of medication that was supposed to go in over a 4 hour period had only 1.5 hours before closing time.  God was with me and I didn't have a moment's trouble.  I do know how to demand attention though, just become a giant hive!!  I took a picture, but it was after the second bag of Benedryl, however some red blotches still remained.

I left the office at 5:30, a little wobbly from a double-dose of Benedryl and very very tired.  Mark stopped on the way home at a Chinese takey-outey,  and a chicken from Publix.  I wanted a Rita's mango frozen Italian ice, but Mark didn't want to eat anything sweet before dinner.  Next time I'll have to insist, as I am still Jonesing for a mango ice thing.   The big question is, when did I get that giant rooster-goozle that hangs between chin and neck??? (blame it on hives!)

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