A matter of logic

Small shifts in outlook can make a big difference. And how logic saved my day.

When you consider yourself valuable you will take care of yourself in all ways that are necessary.

M Scott Peck

My oncologist met me in the cancer clinic hallway as I was being led to my little infusion room on Wednesday (…finally, after I’d been made to wait for an hour and a half).

Oh, I was just about to come out to talk with you,” he said, “I’m on my way out shortly.” And then we stood there in the hallway for the rest of our discussion. It was relative short, maybe only ten minutes; still I found it slightly unsettling he didn’t offer to go to the privacy of the room.

But I wasn’t going to let him go easily. I did have a few issues to raise, having learned I need to take the bull by the horns when it comes to my treatment plan.

Assertiveness is not what you do, it’s who you are!

Shakti Gawain

First, I reminded him that we had already agreed to slightly reduce the dose of herceptin so we wouldn’t waste hundreds of dollars on unused medicine. He again readily agreed. Yet when I soon after went to check at the pharma counter, it hadn’t already been done; the list I was given to sign had four instead of three vials. It was finally fixed in the end.

More to the point this day, I asked for the third time whether I could forego, or at least reduce, the amount of diphenhydramine (commonly known as Benadryl, although that’s not the brand this hospital uses). For the past three weeks, I’d observed that this antihistamine made me drowsy and ruined my whole day.

He explained again, “The Benadryl is to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction to the paclitaxel.”

I could be wrong, and you can correct me,” I answered, “but that’s not how I understand it. It seems to me that the drug will diminish the effects of an allergic reaction, IF there is one. It’s been six weeks and there’s no indication at all that I am allergic to any of the drugs. As I see it, either I am allergic or I’m not, and if I’m not, then the Benadryl is useless.

Maybe some of both,” he offered; maybe to save some face. “So, you want to try to go without it?

Yes. Unless you strongly advise against it. I’ve read that IF I respond with an allergy, a reaction will show up in the first ten minutes of the chemo infusion. I want to try with the proviso that I am monitored.

Okay, agreed.

Had my double session (paclitaxel, then herceptin), and, as I had deduced, no bad reaction. None at all.

But best of all, I didn’t get all drowsy and go home to crash in bed for the rest of the day.

Yay! Logic, along with paying close attention to my own body, saved my day! Maybe more!

No one can take better care of you than you yourself.

Lois P Frankel

The third subject I wanted to cover with my oncologist was the question of getting a port. That’s a small device that is implanted under the skin on one’s chest and connected to a major vein, making it easier to draw blood (for lab reports) and set up infusions. It’s an outpatient surgical procedure using a local anesthetic in an OR (operating room).

Since my little drama of collapsed veins last week (see PS here), I’d worked hard to keep myself hydrated (as advised by the oncology nurse and caring friends) to plump up the veins in my left hand. It didn’t look to me I’d succeeded much and I was getting more concerned about the 18 or so infusions plus blood tests left to do over the next 11 months or so. (This session 7, the nurse inserted the needle right in my wrist; not ideal, methinks.)

I can’t say I got a clear message from the doctor. We left it that he would write a letter for me to submit to our broker to see if my insurance would cover at least part of the (high) cost. It’s a few days later and despite my two “kind reminders” (as he had requested) I have yet to see the letter. Sigh.

Still going with the flow on this.

Can you think of a time when your body told you that you needed to do or stop doing something, even counter what you were being advised? Did you listen to your own wisdom?

I think one great tip is that you should always love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, take care of yourself, cater to yourself and that little inner voice, you will really not be very worthy of being with someone else, because you won’t be the best version of you.

Kimora Lee Simmons

PS. Know anyone who may have shared similar experiences? I invite you to share my online journal with them so I can benefit from their wisdom, too. Yours is always welcome, too.

9 comments

  • […] in this online journal about the time when I questioned the dosage of herceptin, when I insisted to remove Benadryl from the pre-infusion list of drugs, when I had to push to have him agree to my getting a portal […]

  • […] I first mentioned it in my journal here, and at that time, the nurses could see what was coming and already suggested I get the port. When I raised the issue with my oncologist, he simply said he chose “to believe I was having a bad day.” Wishful thinking, that. A week later he relented. […]

  • Good on you for thinking and being aware of your own meds and body. That is our job in this phase of our lives for sure. No matter how good the medical services we have, we should always learn as much as we can before making big decisions, as well as little ones. I admire your tenacity and ability to advocate for YOU.

  • I guess your doctor (like most of them) are just following “the protocol”.
    Good you have a doctor who listen to you and isn’t stubborn albeit it might also be a sign that he doesn’t really care that much. Looks like his mantra is… “it is your choice”.

    • Yes, Sidney, we’re back to that, aren’t we: It’s up to you. An automaton, rather than staying curious. What disturbs me most about this is the thought that there are lots of patients without my cognitive and intuitive facilities. How they must suffer. 🤔😪

  • Sometimes when we are so dependent on the technical expertise of others we lose sight of the only certain fact – that the journey belongs to us and we must choose the path. It’s inspiring to see you making use of their expertise but using your great reasoning power and intuitive connection to your body to chart your course. Brava!

By Francisca

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