In case you missed it, yesterday was the big move to solid isolation. I knew it had to happen. I knew it would be soon, and I knew exactly what to expect. Or, did I? Of course, I completely understood the idea of my door always being shut, and that brushing of teeth was prohibited, etc. Easy stuff. Here came the difficult stuff, or was it? Enter the nurse who speaks a little English. Little enough and broken enough that I had no idea what she was saying today when she was describing to me all of the apothecary-looking bottles filled with clear and golden-colored liquids that I was to use to wash my body. Normally, we have a relatively good understanding of the point that we’re trying to get across to each other. Not today! Why was I not understanding that you use the same type of solution to wash your face and neck as you do your private parts? Why was I not understanding that it was a two-step process? Why didn’t I, nor don’t I, know for certain if you’re supposed to rinse off with water first, then use the cleansers, or use the cleansers and then rinse off? Why? Why? Why? I was able to glean that she wanted me to wash my face and neck with the solution. After that, it all went down hill. First, I thought she told me that I didn’t have to do it until the evening, so I sat there in the bathroom, out of her way, so she could clean the rest of my room. The next thing you know, she comes in pointing to my back and saying…I have no idea. I’m like “Do you want me to wash my back?”. She points to herself and I deduce that she is going to clean my back. Ah-ha. I do remember Dr. Fedorenko telling me that she would show me how to do that the first time. I take the shirt off. She loads up a gauze pad with some type of alcohol and says “Vodka!”, “Da, Vodka” and holds the gauze to my nose, giggling. Sure enough, it smelled exactly like Vodka. I made a motion as if I was drinking out of the bottle and we laughed. She finishes my back cleansing and walked away. I grab a towel to cover up, and I wait. Now, what am I supposed to do? I sit back down on the toilet seat while she continues cleaning. She comes back and says…I have no idea, and points to my legs. I suppose I was psychically supposed to know that I was supposed to be cleaning those next…and my private parts? I close the door and get to my business, (young ones and macho men look away) and YIIIIIKES!! I start yelling “No!”, “No!”, “No!” Here’s the deal. I’ll be 49 in September. I’ve never had a hot flash in my life and my period has been on time every month for 37 years. You would think, after the crazy week of physical manipulation and stress that I’ve been through, that I might have been spared that perfectly-timed feminine monthly reminder. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!?? Ok, Brooke, reel it in. You’ve had nothing less than a stellar track record during this entire treatment. Get your head on straight and be glad that you’re not experiencing menopause mania, yet. I knew that I had to immediately report my discovery to Dr. Fedorenko, because he specifically asked me to tell him if it happened during the neutropenic stage of the treatment. Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner. So, what are the ramifications of this happening during this phase? I wanted to know if I would be forced to used pads, which I haven’t used since I was 12, or if it was okay to use tampons. Or, would there be a risk of toxic shock syndrome. Yes, it’s been about 30 years since the first big toxic shock scare and it still haunts me. Luckily, he said that “yes”, I could use tampons, but, I am to keep a very close watch on any abnormal bleeding or clotting. Fair enough. Breakdown over.
The nurse sets up what is now my sterile dish washing area, wherein, dishes that I use never leave the room, and before they are washed and put away, they are placed for 15 minutes in a holding tank of special water (I’m going to imagine it’s that far out “diamond water”). ha ha They are then removed and dried. Even though the staff would wash your dishes for you, it has become a tradition for us ladies to do it for them. It’s like a game where we try to get them washed and dried before they come back to do it. Both Tammy and I brought our own little bottles of dishwashing liquid with us. It’s fun, and it brings a sense of “down home” normalcy to a not so normal situation. These nurses do so much for us. It’s nice to see the look of gratitude when they see we’ve returned the favor.
I’m in the home stretch with this body cleansing debacle, and I decide to wash my hair in the sink as the evening winds down. Brilliant. Why didn’t I think of that, before? Now that I’m feeling as fresh as a Vodka Gimlet, I’m ready to settle down in front of my laptop, listen to some tunes and chill. Flying through the outer corridor door is the nurse/bartender motioning for me to take my temperature. I do, and hold it up to the glass so she can record it. She then starts pointing to my bedside table. Once again, a look of bewilderment on my part. There’s my pillbox, some alcohol spray and a blood pressure monitor on the table. She motions to the crook of her arm and through the glass I say do you want to take my blood pressure? She points to me. I say “You want me to do it?” She says “Da (yes)”. I’m thinking, okay, I can do this. I wrap the cuff around my arm. I think it looks perfect and she keeps shaking head no. I’m all ready to push the automatic button and I see her start gowning up to come in. What the hell did I do now? I’m no nurse! She turns the cuff. Apparently I didn’t have it turned to the correct spot where you catch the pulse. She then asks me if I’m a doctor. WHAT!?? I laughed. She said “I am Medical Assistant, are you?” I shook my head no, looked over at my computer and mimed typing on the computer. THEN, she got it and said “Ohhhhh”. We both laughed…hard.
So I’ll end this evening by asking all of you from this point forward to look at me with the respect of a “Medical Assistant” (nurse in Russia). I have serious cramps, and a blood pressure cuff, and I’m not afraid to use it!
NEW ADDITION…I’m going to start posting a pic of myself each day (if I can get a decent “selfie”) and call it “Wisp Watch”. As of this morning, after I was done washing my hair, I did begin to see a few wisps fall into the sink. This is a new development. My hair never falls out. This should get interesting…
I leave you with a few pics of from new cleanliness regimen and a brand new Wave pic hot off the presses.
My body cleansers. Notice the pink duct tape labels?
Sterile gauze pads that you soak and wash with.
The anti-microbial light that is now always on in the bathroom.
Mouth gargle, that is used after each meal and in lieu of brushing teeth.
This is the dishwashing station, where the dishes must be soaked in a treated water for 15 minutes. My “diamond water”. 🙂
Me in my fresh, floral hospital gown. Fabulous! This is where I will begin my “Wisp Watch” pics of the day.
My nemesis. The Cuff!
Here’s my NBC crew waving my stem cells along to their homes. Keep it up!!
NUMBERS JUST IN!!! MY LEUKOCYTE LEVEL HAS APPROPRIATELY DROPPED TO 0.2!!