Thursday, May 21, 2015

Anaphylaxis Reaction to Chemo

From my journal May 20th.

Nurse Jackie recieved the new Chemo 'cocktail' to give to Rich and began to prepare to give it to him.

She explained that he would need to tell her right away if he felt funny in any way shape or form.

He agreed.  Rich was in a great mood, he'd eaten a good breakfast and a good lunch.  

In our meeting with Dr. R the day before the Oncologist Team had suggested a change in Chemo drugs because of the hearing loss experienced with Cisplatin.

The new 'cocktail' was called Erbitux.  All chemo has side effects and we read about them and discussed them at length with Dr. R and signed the paperwork to go ahead with the treatment.

Jackie laughed and Rich made jokes about having to be stuck in the chair for hours on end.  
I was busy creating a fractal called 'Cure Cancer' with my Mandelbulb 3D program on my laptop.

The Infusion clinic was busy with nurses attending other patients.  I started working on the color scheme when Jackie asked Rich again if he felt funny.

I looked over.  Rich nodded, his eyes had narrowed and looked far off. Jackie asked if he could hear her.  He nodded.  
Was he experiencing tunnel vision?
He nodded.
Could he answer her?
His head dropped to his chest.

Mr. Ewing, Richard, Richard!  Jackie's voice became concerned.

Jackie must have sent out some sort of alert or maybe even shouted for help, because in the next instant he was surrounded by nurses.  Blood pressure numbers were being read off, O2 levels.

I slammed my lid on the laptop and grabbed my stuff.  I backed out of the way and into a corner.  
Over the PA system came a call for the 'Crash Team' or whatever it was called.  The announcement was for our little room.  
I turned and watched as more people rushed in, a doctor ran in from a clinic across the hall.

Several people with giant orange bags entered and I shrunk back to stay out of the way.
I saw Rich's chest heaving, I could see he was grey and sweating.  His legs began to jerk and twitch. 
They were trying to get a response and none was coming.

I looked up.  The VA police had arrived and I was curious at first, then saw that they were making sure that the doorways were open so that the medical teams could come and go without using them.  And they were keeping anyone curious at bay.

Nurse Ronnie came up to me and asked me if I was okay.  I simply replied, "Yes."  She squeezed my arm.
She started to say something and I stared over at the mass of medical people and quietly said, "Anaphylactic shock?"

She hugged me, I hugged her back but watched.

On TV, everything happens so that you the viewer can understand what is going on.  Conversations are clear and concise.  Not so here.  I caught parts of sentences being uttered and someone repeating them.  Another voice. And another all jumbled together.

For a moment the staff backed off and I stepped forward to touch Rich. 

I glanced down at his arm where the chemo concoction had gone in.  It was bright red with huge welts on it.  
I'd never seen hives like that before.

I backed away.
The Team stabilized him and then we moved to the ED where they put him on a bed.

Dr. R appeared and I walked with him back to the Infusion clinic to pick up the rest of my things.  Both he and Jackie looked a bit distraught.  I touched Dr. R's arm and told him it would be okay.
According to the literature there is a less than .001% chance of a severe reaction like this to the drug.

He couldn't have known.  Funny thought, me trying to comfort a doctor?

Ronnie and Jackie asked me again if I was okay.

Was I okay?  I didn't know.  I had gone into my mode of emotional distancing or was it withdrawal?  I would have done no good by breaking down and causing a scene.

End result.  Rich is home today [Thursday], he feels fine.  He doesn't recall most of the incident and he did very well today.  He even ate like a champ.  We made our radiation appointment and headed home.

As soon as we dropped our stuff off in the house, we both headed upstairs to take nice long restful naps.

1 comment:

  1. OMG...........I could feel your pain in this writing............