Sunday, March 01, 2009

Hospital City, USA


I suck.

Don't rub it in.

First, I blame Facebook for my recent slacking off in posting. On Facebook, I just post these quick little blurbs regarding my current status and feel like I've done my duty updating everyone. Except that not everyone is in my Facebook clique, and those status updates are anemic.

Second, life was pretty uneventful for a few weeks going there. I had my usual schedule of clinic visits and transfusions. Little A turned three, and we had a nice small gathering in his honor, more adults than kids, but the birthday boy didn't seem to mind. He had a buddy to play monster trucks with and that made him happy as clams.

I got a nasty cold (that still hasn't quite unhooked its claws) that turned from a snot factory to laryngitis and a hacking cough. My voice still retains a hoarse, gravely quality that I'm not sure if I want permanently. But hey, some of the professors in the theatre department in college always liked to comment on the irritating, nasally tone of my voice (not to mention my Virginia accent), so now maybe I've got some sonic depth when I speak.

The big news of late, of course, has been my sojourn here to Houston for treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center. My RVA oncologist made the initial appointment to see the folks out here a couple of weeks ago. I came down for a few days, accompanied by my dad, for some tests and such.

Holy smack, what a difference from Dr. Dickweed in Baltimore. The oncologist here right off the bat presents me with a clinical trial, as well as making the point to tell me there are other treatment options should I not choose the trial or the trial not work. Yeah, that's more like it.

Where does that bring me? I'm back in Houston, for a minimum of thirty days, to participate in a clinical trial for a brand-spanking new chemo drug. And I am the first leukemia patient in the world to take this drug. Whoo! Guinea pig! But the drug's just a boring orange pill, about the size of an aspirin. So no glowing liquid or ginormous pill. But it is pretty cool to think I am participating in medical history. Patient Zero, that's me. Or something like that.

But it's not all glamour being a medical pioneer. The first and seventh day of each cycle of pills (A cycle is a week. I take the pill for one week and then am off for two.) I have to fast for ten hours prior to taking the pill and can't eat or drink anything for two hours afterwards. Damn, that's fun. Especially when you expect to be able to take your first pill at 8 AM, but the typical medical skulduggery mucks everything up and you don't swallow that bad boy until 11 AM. Which of course means you don't get to eat or drink until 1 PM. Good times. My poor little stomach was so distressed that at about 12:30 PM I retched. Whoop! Whoop! Then of course I had these hourly blood draws until 11 PM that night.

I get to go through all that torture again tomorrow. Sheesh, the things I do for the furtherment of science.

Then yesterday, instead of checking out the Houston Rodeo which is setting up shop at the Reliant Center up the road, I spent quality time in the bathroom, drinking Gatoraide, slugging Pepto, and becoming sucked into the ANTM marathon on Bravo. Not sure if the new drug or the two antibiotics that the docs got me started on tore up my intestines, but that sure was not how I thought I'd spend my Saturday. If my body cooperates, then I might strike out and do some exploring today.

My temporary home here in Houston is a hotel owned by the hospital right across the street from the main buildings. MD Anderson is huge, probably close in square footage to VCU/MCV in Richmond, and all these folks do is cancer. The area where Anderson is located is like this community of medical facilities here in Houston. There are all flavors of hospitals here: heart, orthopedics, children's, trauma, research. Not to mention various schools for medical training. I guess if you're going to get sick or injured, this would be the place to do it. The staff at Anderson has been nothing short of wonderful. Learning the new system after months of treatment back home has been a wee challenge, especially navigating the labyrinthine buildings. But I am gradually easing into life here.

My digs here a nice-a mini kitchen, living area, bedroom, cable TV. Everyone staying here is a patient at MD Anderson which means there is a pretty high geriatric content (I've seen younger folks getting treatment at the hospital; I guess they just aren't staying here.), giving the hotel the feel of a retirement home. But it's quiet, and they have some nice amenities considering most guests stay here for weeks at a time. I'm within walking distance (or METRORail ride) away from a big park, museums, and the Houston zoo. The weather here has been like RVA in April or May.

Can't complain really. Just wait and see if someone here can whip this stupid disease into submission.

My dad has been with me most of the week (Third reason why I haven't blogged yet is my father's commandeering the Pink Machine to do work down here.), but he left yesterday. Adrian's set to come on Wednesday for a visit, and if everything works out, my mom and Little A will pop down for a few days as well.

Sigh. Sniff. Sniff. I miss my boy.

Maybe I should stop listening to Johnny Cash.

Is there more ANTM on Bravo...?


TK said...

It's great to see your spirits lifted a bit, Manda. Glad to hear you're doing well, all things considered. We're all thinking of you, of course.

It is kind of a bummer that the new super Mutant-X meds are so lame. I was hoping for some kind of Incredible Hulk stuff. Alas.

Jeremy Feist said...

Oooo, congrats on being a medical pioneer, Manda! Venturing out into the great unknown of meds that may or may not make you shoot lasers out of your eyes...But in all seriousness, best of luck with the new treatment, and I hope that it sees you getting better soon. Best wishes!

Maria said...

I am in Killeen Texas - posted before that a dinner would be on me if you are up for meeting a new fan. If not, I will gladly make arrangements for you and the mister to have dinner out when he visits.

Screw Dr doom and gloom - so happy you have a doc with a better bedside manner!

Steph said...

Hey! Thanks so much for posting. Sorry yesterday was so crappy for you but hopefully those events will be few and far between. We're praying for you and the family. We're in RVA this week on break so I might give you a call to catch up. Love you!

Nicole said...

Welcome to Houston! So glad to hear that your experience at MD Anderson has been a good one.

rockygrace said...

Thanks for posting - I've been wondering how you've been doing! It's good to hear that you're in capable hands.

JamieSmitten said...

Well if ANYTHING could get me to go to the dark side (facebook), it would be to keep up with you. Glad you aren't making me do that yet. Go buy yourself some kick ass cowboy boots and get stomping on the bad blood cells!

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