MCL - As Seen on TV

MCL - As Seen on TV
Neulasta port fail.

(Originally published March 27, 2022)

As part of my last treatment - I received a Neulasta (Pegfilgrastim) injector.  The Neulasta mitigates issues with my white blood cells and infections during chemotherapy.   This device is a tool in my mission to stay out of the hospital during this treatment cycle.

For this to work, there is a narrow window when the oncologist and I have to inject this medication - 24 to 72 hours after the last treatment.

He decided to experiment with this injector. First, with my spleen still being very enlarged, I was very nervous about having shots in my stomach; second, because my last treatment was on a Saturday and neither of us wanted to be in an office on Sunday; third, I made the mistake of "doing research" while I was at the end of my second day of chair time and focused on all of the bad things that can happen.

I was trying to see whether I could push the medication back to the next treatment.  In 2022, I essentially went from a multi-vitamin and a mental health med to NO mental health med and a litany of other chemicals and other people's blood and anesthesia and foreign objects.  Thankfully, I am willing to admit that I was knee-jerking my reaction to yet another medication and, once he patiently explained to me why this was important, I was better with having this new device installed.

The way I thought this was going to go... The doctor installed the device around 12:45pm on Saturday. I was expecting a beep, a poke, and everything going smoothly so that I didn't need a belly shot.  My partner had a tee time in the afternoon, so I was hoping that if anything went awry, he would be around to help.

What actually happened... 1pm Sunday came and went, then I decided to open up the book to see whether something broke. Turns out, the device was supposed to go off 27 hours later, not 24.  Thankfully, I had already arranged to have Mom come over for company.

Reading is hard when bad blood is going through your brain. Note to self - I highlight things when I read.

The Neulasta pamphlet - Lesson learned, bring a highlighter

I'm glad Mom was around for the injection time.  The warnings still had me a bit scared and I wanted someone around in case I had an allergic reaction.  Since I am still grappling with a dose of the itchies from the transfusion and all the stuff in my body, a reaction was a real possibility.  I also found it was nice to have a second set of eyes. Left to my own devices, I would have gone into the land of denial so that I could avoid the stomach shot.  Mom, of course, wouldn't let me away with that.

The device beeped. Then, nothing.  Then, the dreaded medication leak.

My injector. Note the wet spot in the upper right.
The picture in the guide telling me that I was going to need a stomach shot. Boo.

I had tried hard to stay real still...but the flimsy plastic needle in the device couldn't get past the skin.

Thankfully, my spleen had gone way down overnight and I was feeling pretty good the next day when I saw the oncologist. Since the device wasn't bothering me, and I could shower, I left it on.  Besides, any new device with the possibility of needles in me and not knowing how to remove it and risk tearing myself up isn't going anywhere without professional supervision.

The needle was super-bent when he pulled off the device.  From the looks of it, the needle seems to be made of incredibly flimsy plastic.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture.  It was pretty impressive - especially since my "abs of steel" days are a few years behind me.

The stomach shot was no big deal. I had images of the doctor poking a long needle in my side. Turns out it was a subcutaneous shot that he kept very shallow.  It also helped that I was having a really good day.  When I'm feeling good, it's a lot easier to be poked with needles and I am less likely to spin myself up dreading the next whatever the medical establishment needs to do.

I am grateful that this has been an uneventful week. The spleen is way down (yay!).  My appetite is currently good (yay!). I seem to be holding on to my hemoglobin and the transfusions (yay!).  I'm doing well enough that I managed to avoid getting another bag of blood this week.

I have been suffering from everything smelling and tasting a bit like burnt hair this week - not fun, but easily masked.  My diet is still really basic and high school. Crackers, canned ravioli, cup o' noodles, wintergreen life savers (helps with the taste, smell, and a bit of the nausea), and - oddly - pepperoni.  I think the re-addition of a little bit of "meat" may be helping. However, the pepperoni needs to be eaten in small doses, I am currently finding that too much fat doesn't help with the nausea.

The next 2 weeks are the more challenging ones, and I've noticed that symptoms have been increasing since Friday afternoon. I find myself looking forward to the next anti-nausea med vs. staying ahead of the nausea. Snacking every couple of hours helps. And LOTS of ginger and mint things.

Still, feeling pretty optimistic as of this writing. And very grateful.