First Time at the Pump

This bell sits on the counter of the nurses’ station in the heart of the chemotherapy common clinic on the 11th floor of the Victoria Building in the Victoria General Hospital. Every patient sees it each time they enter the clinic and look forward to enthusiastically ringing it at some time in the future. To qualify for the privilege, one has to be at the end of their cancer treatment.

In an otherwise quiet facility, today the clang of the bell rang out loudly and enthusiastically by a patient leaving the clinic for the last time. The other 10-12 patients on the pumps in the chemotherapy clinic joined in her celebration with a round of applause. It was a joy to be present and witness this ceremony. It will be my turn a few months from now.

It was my first time in the clinic today. However, I wasn’t there for chemotherapy. Today I was there for an Iron Transfusion. This is the first of five weekly treatments. Each transfusion takes between 15 and 20 minutes, followed by a saline flush for about 5 minutes. After that I needed to remain for 30 minutes to ensure I didn’t have any adverse side effects.

For future treatments, I’ll drink more water before the session. It took 4 attempts to get the IV needle in my right wrist. I found that ironic as compared to the needle used when I donate plasma, this one was tiny.

Ah well, lesson learned.

I didn’t have any side effects although I had a deep-sleep nap when I got home. I didn’t feel particularly tired but I went out like a light in my new man chair. I was watching Live At 5 … perhaps that had something to do with it.

In case you missed my earlier post, a hemoglobin count for a man my age should fall between 120 and 140 (in the US between 12-14). Last week, mine dropped to 55 which is considered critically low. To correct, I needed a blood transfusion of 4 units to bring it up to 85. I haven’t had blood work since then but I’m feeling good and my colour is about what you’d expect for a pale Caucasian 66-year old male.

Iron is the building block of hemoglobin so increasing my iron will bring up my hemoglobin count. The next blood work should show that is the case but if not then it will be back to the drawing board.

Thanks again for reading my ramblings. It is gratifying to have so many at my side along for this challenging ride.

Peace, love and laughter – Phil

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