Radiation Day 1: Chemo Day 1

I’m sitting in a big La-Z-Boy right now, an IV in my left hand and my chemotherapy in mid-session. It’s been a long day and I’m a little tired emotionally. Let me start from the beginning.

At 7:50am this morning I had my first official radiation treatment. It was pretty much as I described it in my earlier blog posts. I was strapped down, face mask was clamped to the table, handcuffs and leg restraints were put in place.

I had nothing to do while lying there, so I timed the blasts of radiation. In all, I received 13 separate doses of radiation. They were all 25-30 seconds in duration save two – which were 5-7 seconds in length. Apparently there is only loose correlation between the time it takes to give the dose and the actual dose itself. Still, I received a healthy dose of radiation. As my brother told me on the phone a few minutes ago, “You’re all Hulk now, aren’t you muthafukker?”

After my Hulk treatment, I had to see the doctor who promptly informed me that the medicine necessary for my throat to handle and heal this radiation was NOT approved by my insurance company. I have great insurance through United Health Care, provided by my company 100%. I pay very little out of pocket during my visits and nothing, not one penny, is deducted from my paycheck. My company covers the entire thing. How awesome is that?

Still, to find out that my oral medication, Caphosol, was not covered is a huge inconvenience. I need to take 4 doses a day for 7 weeks. A week dosage will cost me over $200.00. My radiologist is providing me with sample while we go through the appeal process with my insurance company. I will not go without, but it still annoys me.

I was told that since radiation is cumulative that I will probably be able to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner but definitely not Christmas dinner. I just shrugged. What will be will be. This is temporary.

So I went over to my medical oncologist after radiation. I was scheduled for 9:00am chemo – a 4-6 hour process. (note: I have been here 4 hours 45 minutes so far and it appears I will be here another 45 minutes).

I have another insurance issue here as well. Remember in my last blog I said that Cisplatin will make me EXTREMELY nauseous for day as after treatment? The primary medicine to counteract that was denied by my insurance company! The drug, called EMEND, is authorized only once every 31 days by my insurance company. Why? I have no idea.

Since my chemo is once every 21 days, the insurance company denied the script for EMEND. I was supposed to have it filled before coming here today. The staff had to give me my first dose through IV while they got on the phone and fought with the insurance company.

I am also the only person they have ever seen who has a “reaction” to EMEND given intravenously. It says there “may” be entry site reaction, but they had never seen it before. Until me. Once they started the EMEND, my arm caught fire where the IV was going up 6 inches. The pain was severe but I had to wait it out.

So the good news is that I got my EMEND scripts approved. I can go get it filled now. I need to take 2 more doses this week to give me continual coverage. I had been afraid that I would not be able to get it. This drug costs over $500.00 for 3 pills!

It’s been pretty uneventful beyond that. I did learn that my dose of Cisplatin is so high that I will almost certainly lose my hair. I am upset by this – but what can you do? It will grow back – but I really like my long hair. Still, I may get temporary membership in the club John and Eric are in – the bald man’s club. How exciting – we can meet twice a month and discuss how to best shine out scalps!

I can also expect to be VERY fatigued in the next couple of days. The nadir of the treatment, between days 10-14, is when I will be VERY susceptible to getting sick. I need to be very careful.

That’s it. Day 1. Seems pretty tame – I think my chemo side effects may be significant in the next day or so. I will blog about them when it happens.

I’d like to take a moment to say thanks to all of you who are rooting for me. All of you who call, write me, or otherwise give me your support. Carey is, of course, my angel. I couldn’t do this without her. I can’t put into words how much I love her.

Thank you all. I am tying this up quickly because they gave me a diuretic and I have to pee so badly my eyes are floating!

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2 Responses to “Radiation Day 1: Chemo Day 1”

  1. I’m really impressed that you’re able to write and share so much of something that seems like such a personal process. Thanks. Just for being you. 🙂

  2. Hang on there.

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