Monday, December 14, 2009

Melphalan: Round One

After all the fuss I made over it, today's chemotherapy session is going to sound anti-climactic. We arrived at 10 A.M., and after getting blood drawn for the inevitable battery of tests, I was connected to the IV machine, and dosed with (you guessed it) dexamethasone and Zofran (ondansetron). Once these had gone in, the nurse once again donned the protective clothing and gloves, in order to handle the bag of melphalan. This took a mere twenty minutes to go in. Finally I was topped off with a bit of saline flush, and then turned loose. We returned home by about 12:30 P.M.

I think I forgot to mention that, for the IVs, the IPOP clinic uses the Hospira Omni-Flow 4000 Plus. This machine can multiplex up to four inputs (bags or syringes) onto a single output tube going to one of my catheter lumens. Each input can be independently controlled in terms of flow rate, the conditions on which it alarms, etc.

So far (knock wood) I don't seem to be feeling any negative effects; of course I expect this to change sooner or later. But this afternoon, the weather was so fine, and I felt so strong, that we undertook a major walking expedition. We walked about a mile south to the Fells Point neighborhood, in search of French bread. The walk was challenging for me, requiring navigation along broken concrete or cobblestone sidewalks, and to negotiate busy intersections. In addition, in one direction the route is fairly steep downhill, so of course the return is uphill. Our plan was that I would walk as far as I could, and then if I ran out of steam, we would resort to a cab. That didn't turn out to be necessary, though; I was able to make the entire journey on foot.

We have been conducting Internet-based research on such topics as the locations of Baltimore-area grocery stores (Asian markets in particular), and bakeries purporting to produce baguettes (the bread type, not the diamond type). Huong has pretty exacting standards for baguettes; common failures are crusts that are insufficiently crispy, or hearts that are too doughy. Chances are good that the "artisanal" baguettes found in the bakery section of your local upscale supermarket are failures on one or both counts. Today we were targeting an ersatz
patisserie in Fells Point said to have baguettes; it did, but the crusts were not quite crispy enough. We bought one anyway. We also took a break over coffees and croissants; I was thus sufficiently fortified for the return walk.

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