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January 23, 1999 - The journey begins

Karen's High Dose Chemo Diary

The journey begins

To: "wellness" < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Subject: The journey begins
From: "Karen Patterson" < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date: Sat, 23 Jan 1999 16:06:59 -0500

Thank you all for your kind words and wishes while I was at Duke.  I read them all while I was there but I can't communicate feelings until I have dealt with them myself.  You will notice that Harry posts almost daily and I only weekly.  I am very thankful for the incredible time my husband, Harry  puts into my website.  He really puts in more time than me.  He writes beautifully and is an objective observer.  Where I myself am a participant and see things from a more biased angle.  That is why I try to think carefully over my week and experiences and try to impart what can be both insightful and honest.  My site makes me feel good.  I have met some wonderful caring people through my site.  It is Friday night and we arrived home from Duke around 3:30 this afternoon.  At 9:15 last evening we found out I had produced enough cells to go home.  My first day had been difficult.  I was very bruised and swollen all over my left chest from the surgery the day before.  My blood flowed well for three hours and then became very sensitive.  I was not able to move, talk or laugh.  I had to stare straight ahead and keep my hands and arms still.  Time passed very slowly.  I kept trying to think of ways to get my book and read without the machine catching me.  I asked a young woman next to me to try to drop it in my hands so I could try to fool the machine, but it caught me.  When Drew arrived he read aloud to me and it was wonderful.  It got me through my afternoon.

The next morning we were determined to get there early enough to get done early.  All four couples who received pheresis the previous day showed up by 7:30 AM.  One poor woman had to lie at a head down incline for the whole six hours the previous day.  Another had to lie but could not move at all.  We shared horror stories.  I felt an upswing.  Why did I suddenly feel better sharing horror stories with four other couples?  Because we were all in the exact same place in life.  No matter where we came from, how old we were, whatever, we were all in the same place.  No one had hair, eyebrows, or eyelashes.  We were all swollen from treatment facing the scariest choice in our lives, but all equal.  It was a wonderful hour.  We bonded and meld so quickly and silently it was amazing. 

On Thursday my circulation was still sensitive.  It allowed me to recline a bit more since we found the right foot position.  But I could not turn my head, talk or laugh too much.  If I moved my arms too much to either side it set off the low pressure alarm.  It was best for me to stay alone and listen to audio books.  My husband went to take care of business and our son.  I listened to books.  I quickly learned that if the machine went to alarm to take a deep breath and I could return it to normal.  I worked hard all day keeping my blood pumping.  That evening when the doc called in I had pumped 1.6 that day and could go home.  I was ecstatic but my thoughts went right to Debbie. Linda, and Sharon and wondered how they had done.  It is not easy for anyone.


I am home now feeling pretty well.  It was 75 degrees today so Drew, my sister who will be my caregiver, and my dog Midas and I went to the beach.  I soaked up vitamin D au naturale and had a great time.  I ache a bit and I'm pretty swollen from something, but its good to be home.  I am scheduled to be admitted on Wednesday.  I have been told that I will be sedated the whole time and there will be an amnesia effect.  They have done this before and I feel that I am in good hands.  You will not hear from me for awhile, but my man will be ever vigilant.  My love to all, 



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