Today’s chemo session proceeded considerably more smoothly than last week’s. We already knew what to leave at home, where to park, and the smoothest route from the parking lot to the clinic, an important consideration since Earl was pulling a 100+ lb. cooler. Also, since we weren’t as concerned about allergic reactions (because there weren’t any last week), the Taxol and Herceptin were administered more rapidly and we left the clinic within 2.5 hours, compared to 4 hours last Wednesday. Together with the customary additional 4 hours of Cold Caps after the completion of the Taxol infusion, this meant we could use just 13 caps vs. last week’s 18.
In order to cut down on bulk, cool the caps faster, and simplify transportation, we pared down to one 75 quart cooler rather than two. Using a single cooler also reduced our dry ice order from 100 to 70 lbs. I had precut the moleskin to fit my forehead, so we weren’t as rushed to prepare my forehead and ears to prevent frostbite. The electric blanket really kept me comfortable with minimal fuss and maximal benefit. In fact, at one point, the next cap was reading too cold, around -40ºC rather than -32ºC, so Earl quickly warmed it up on my toasty throw.
Adjustment of the various velcro straps was more familiar and therefore more expeditious. I think we did a much better job of fitting the cap to my head this time which should improve the end result. Today I brought 12 popsicles and a smoothie and kept my mouth cold the entire Taxol hour. I hope this will keep mouth sores and taste changes at bay.
The nurses have all been commendably supportive. One other patient has used Cold Caps in the past and many staff members were already familiar with our space and logistical needs. However, I was the object of many odd looks on my way out of the clinic to the car. I looked like a head trauma patient but with an odd twist since my blue cap was covered with an unexpected layer of frost (which is visible in the picture below if you zoom in).
Or perhaps it was the maxi pad (with wings!), stuck to my neck to cushion the cap’s chin strap (also visible in the photo below), that potentially hinted at something a bit more nefarious. You can’t see it, but I was also sporting a coordinating panty liner cut in half to protect my ears. This is actually a fortuitous use of my stash of feminine products since there’s a good chance that Taxol will send me into chemopause, that is, chemo-induced early menopause. At any rate, I am afraid it’s obvious by now that no dignity has been spared in this somewhat sordid affair known as cancer.
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