Yesterday and today is getting ready time. After a quiet weekend getting some rest and doing some everyday things, now its time to get prepared. Yesterday I got an echocardiogram as a baseline of heart function, so that we can monitor any potential heart damage from the chemo in the coming weeks.
Today its learning about ports and meeting with my oncologist. Ports are a relatively new thing at MD Anderson. When my wife got chemo 5 years ago, she had IVs and eventually a CVC, or central venous catheter, which sits atop the skin and needs careful maintenance. The port, by all accounts, is very easy to manage. It sits below the skin, is a metal pod with a membrane and is connected directly to a vein. To get chemo a needle which pierces the skin and the membrane is placed over the port. This beats looking for a new vein every time, and bound to be more comfortable than the average IV (even though the nurses are all superb at hitting those veins!). I’ll post a pic, by and by.
A few days ago, one of my colleagues sent me a list of good advice, which I thought I’d share:
1. Bring good warm socks and a sweater. Many of the clinical areas are cold, especially if you start getting chemo.
2. Bring a good book, iPad or work, as the waits are sometimes long.
3. Get a notebook with folders to hold all of the business cards, labs, reports, documents, etc.
4. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.
5. Get one of the little Wayfinding maps and learn how to use the kiosks (this is the system at MD Anderson which helps people get around. I know a lot of the buildings from working there, of course, but I am learning some new areas!)
6. The hardest, worst and most important- get your affairs in order. If you do not have a will, get one now. Get the powers of attorney. When you start taking chemo (if you do), you never know when they may bottom out your counts and you could get very sick, very quick.
Frank advice isn’t always easy to get. I appreciate it. I have got my affairs in order, and have readied a bag with socks, a tuque (my head gets cold sometimes…) and my iPad, note pad and headphones.