Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mouse Day Two


Well. I'm back. I think.

My first rituximab infusion was an interesting experience. On arrival to the infusion center, I was whisked out of the waiting room, plunked into a hospital bed, and an IV was dripping away into my vein before I knew it.

I put my lucky shoes right next to me on the floor so that their luckiness sphere included me and my infusion pump.

The unit had a blanket warmer thingie. Mmmmmm. Cozy.

So my nurse Kathy, a woman about my age and wearing fabulous red patent leather nursing clogs, bustled into my room. We exchanged pleasantries, then, she asked me what I knew already about rituximab. When I told her that I knew that it was a chimeric monoclonal antibody, she looked at me steadily for a few seconds. "Nurse?"

I nodded. "Retired."

We bonded immediately. "Where?"

"Mostly dialysis but a whole bunch of other areas." We smiled at each other.

I gestured at the silver Nordstrom gift box that I had placed on my bedside table. "So -- since rituximab is part mouse......"

Here she interrupted me. "It IS?"

"Um. Yup."

"Well, girl. You should be giving ME this speech."

"Hardly. I know what all the literature says about this drug but I haven't the faintest clue what it's like to actually administer it or what it's going to feel like to me."

"Well, I've given plenty of rituximab, so in that respect you're right. So what's in the box?"

"I thought I'd bring you and the staff some cookies for putting up with me today. And since I'm getting mouse medicine, I thought I'd bring you all mouse cookies."

She peeked into the box and squealed. "Cuuuuutttteeee!"

I was glad that we actually transported two dozen mice without breaking off their brittle almond sliver ears.

We moved on to the pre-treatment medications: oral Tylenol, IV benadryl (Whoa. After that syringe was emptied into my IV line the rest got fuzzy pretty quickly) and then a dose of IV steroids.

As I dozed, I could feel my blood pressure and other vital signs being measured every fifteen minutes, so I roused occasionally to smile as I shamelessly eavesdropped on the comments coming from the nursing station just outside my cubicle door.

"Hm. She's right. It IS made of human and mouse proteins! I knew it was a biologic monoclonal, but hmm..."

"So how do you eat one of those things? I'm not going to start at the BUTT end!"

"Well. I couldn't possibly just bite his head off.....I'm going to start in on his belly."

"Snort. Oh please. Like that's a BETTER place to start?"

"Can you eat the tail?....Chew chew chew.....Sure enough. It's black licorice."

"Oooooo! Mine is so cute that I don't think I can eat it! I'm just going to put him on my desk and look at him all day!"

Munch...munch....munch...."She said that you should hold the chocolate ones by the tail and dunk them into your coffee mug."

"So WHERE did these cookies come from?"

"The mouse lady. Er.....Julia in room 10."

"Wow. Must be shortbread. Tastes good."

This was REAL entertainment. By the time I had rituximab actually flowing into my veins, I was completely distracted by the parade of staff poking their heads into my room and chatting about the cookies.

I recommend distraction highly when receiving this drug. It felt......weird. Not terrible, but though I was slowly being encased in a lead suit so that every motion was slooooooow. At one point I felt a bit flushed and sweaty, and Kathy gave me a quick appraisal.

"A little flushed -- or a lot? Come on quickly? Or slowly?" She had her hand on my infusion pump, ready to change the settings based on my answer.

"A little. Came on kind of slowly."

Hm. She frowned at me and tapped her foot. "I think I'll let the infusion continue for now, but if you feel as though you're getting more warm -- even a teensy bit -- call me and we'll give you a break from the meds."

I nodded my assent.

The rest of the infusion progressed without incident, and six hours after it had begun, it was over. Kathy discussed my doctor's instructions to me for the next two weeks as she pulled off tape and removed my IV catheter. "You have a nickname now, you know. Mouse lady," and grinned.


"AND you realize that we'll all be fighting with each other to see who gets to be assigned to you in two weeks..."

Bwahaha. My evil plan has WORKED! I thought. I sighed contentedly. I have met every person on this staff, provided myself with six hours of entertainment, and got through this in one piece, I thought. Success. I stuck my feet back into my lucky shoes, John poured me into Goldie, and we headed home.

I climbed into bed and basically stayed there for the rest of the day, nursing a headache, a metallic taste in my mouth, and that strange lead-suit sensation.

This morning, I feel a bit better, although still a bit achey and slow. I popped my 60 mg. of prednisone with my morning pills as directed. It will be interesting to see how I react to that much pred.

So. That's all from the Mouse Lady today. See y'all tomorrow.



Anita Rowe Stafford said...

Thanks for going to the effort to give an update even though you so need your rest. Your desciption was great, makes me feel that I was there with you too! Take care!

Missy said...

Glad to hear you feel a little better. I couldn't wait to get home from work today to check on you. I'm glad your mice cookies worked! It's always a good idea to make a good impression! Hoping you feel even better tomorrow, Missy

Miki said...

Glad you're doing well! Get some more rest and take care of yourself!

ShEiLa said...

The mouse cookies... perfect idea! You will be the center attraction every time you are there.

I hope the treatment is successful and that you don't have too many prednisone side effects.