F U, 5 times

I get to my 7:30 AM appointment to see JC. She needs to attach a catheter to my port. What’s a port you ask?

“A port is a small medical appliance that is installed beneath the skin. A catheter connects the port to a vein. Under the skin, the port has an area through which drugs can be injected and blood samples can be drawn many times, usually with less discomfort for the patient than a more typical “needle stick.” (Thanks Wikipedia) This picture shows what and where it is, but it is under the skin. The circular part in the middle is where the needle goes, it is just under the skin.

With a four inch catheter hanging from the port, I go to my 8:00 with the oncologist.

I am rather upset that the original oncologist, the one I met at the “Cerberus” meeting, is out on unexpected maternity leave. Well, unexpectedly early. I really liked her and she made a difference, but she is now replaced by another doctor. Multiple people assure me I will like him. And so I meet him …

Really nice guy, on the young side (aren’t they all), fantastic pedigree and education. He will do.

The chemo drug I will be getting is called Fluorouracil. Because there is a fluorine atom on the 5th carbon of a uracil ring, the drug is often referred to as “5-FU” … my favorite fun-fact about 5-FU is this:

There is very little difference between the minimum effective dose and maximum tolerated dose of 5-FU, and the drug exhibits marked individual pharmacokinetic variability.

Yeah, that sucks. The amount of the drug needed to work is very close to the maximum you can tolerate AND it is almost impossible to figure out what that dose is.

I will be getting this for about 6 weeks, 24/7. It is 10% of the strength of “regular” chemo (I will get that later). For now the goal is to sensitize the cancer cells as much as possible to the radiation so the radiation is more effective. They only do this with certain cancers, and mine qualifies.

Meet my new friend, “Effyou” 

To give you some perspective, it is just a tad bigger than my iPhone 5 (yeah, I know, but it works) and significantly thicker. It is attached to a mini IV bag, about the same size as the unit, that has a full week of poison medication in it. Everyone needs to name their pump, so the Internet tells me, hence “Effyou.”

There are two primary ways to keep the pump with you; in a “fanny pack” / purse, or in a “PoppyPocket” (an elastic band with pockets, shown here on Mr. Poppy I presume). Because I often need to get up in the middle of night to deal with Pearlsky, I worry about putting the pump on the nightstand and just walking away (ouch). I will sleep with it in a PoppyPocket on my stomach, I do not sleep on my stomach, it should work. I have ordered a Spongebob patch for my black fanny pack that I will be using during the day. Why not?

You may be wondering how I shower with the port being attached to an electronic device that is attached to me. Yeah, I wonder about that as well. The tubing is six feet long and they say to hang the pump outside the shower. I also need to cover the area around the port and keep it all dry. People use Saran Wrap and tape, Press ‘N’ Seal, etc.

Personally, I think I just won’t shower for the next 6 weeks. F U

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2 thoughts on “F U, 5 times

  1. I remember when I first heard 5Fu. I thought it was a fantastic name for a chemo drug.

    You guys have fancy pumps. I live and work in Canada and our pumps are low tech but just as effective. It’s an elastomeric pump which looks like a baby bottle with a balloon inside of it. The heat of your body forces the drug up the tubing into your port.

    Take care.

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