Friday, September 26, 2008

The tools of chemo...

I want to show you some of the things that have become such a natural part of our lives since starting chemo. Some you may recognize - some you may not.

This is a toothette. It is a small sponge on a lollipop stick. Remember how I said that Michael's mouth has gotten sore and it is difficult for him to brush his teeth with a tooth brush? Well, I spoke to our nurse case manager from our insurance company and she suggested I try these toothettes. So I was on a mission to find some. It didn't take long.

Michael's godfather, Uncle Jeff, has a brother, John, that owns a medical supply company locally. I asked Jeff to ask John if he knew where I could find these toothettes. He did better than that - he had a box in his warehouse and gave them to us (and refused to let us pay for them). But, before he gave them to Michael, John and one of his managers tried them out to make sure they would be comfortable for Michael.

Jeff is also a salesman for the trucking company I work for. Some of his "accounts" are medical supply companies we haul freight for so he asked one of his contacts about the toothettes and they forwarded a huge bag to Michael.

We now have enough toothettes to last Michael a long, long time. So, we took some of them to chemo today and gave them to Britney (the child life specialist) to hand out to any other children that may be experiencing pain while brushing with a tooth brush. It is my understanding that this is even more common in children receiving drugs for Leukemia. And, I told her that if she runs out to let me know - I am sure we could spare some more.

BTW - this is an example of what I spoke about some time back when I said that whenever we need something, there always seems to be some kind and generous person or people to help us out with what we need.

Now I am sure you will recognize this next item but I bet you can't figure out what it has to do with chemotherapy treatments.

Give up?

You know how Michael has a port-a-cath implanted under his skin in which he receives his chemo medicines? Well, before we leave home, we place a dab of "magic cream" over his port that numbs the skin and makes him more comfortable while they access his port with a needle. And that would make an awful mess if we didn't do something so...

... we cover the cream with Glad Press 'n Seal. This idea came from one of Michael's nurses. We had been using an adhesive patch that was really sticky and uncomfortable for Michael. So she suggested Glad Press 'n Seal. It sticks to Michael's skin but comes off easily when the time comes.

When we get into the treatment room at the hospital, Michael unbuttons his shirt and removes the Press 'n Seal. (He always wears a button up shirt on chemo days as it is easier with all of the IV tubing.)

Next, we get the access site "squeaky clean". Hey - who is that masked woman?

Now it is time for the needle. Michael is not afraid of needles at all (good thing) and always watches.

The next step is to make sure the port is working correctly. This is done by "finding red worm" (blood in the tubing). The nurses use a syringe to flush the port with saline and then to get a "blood return".

Once they are sure the needle placement is perfect, the needle gets a couple of "pillows" to make it comfortable.

Then the needle is covered with a bandage to keep it in place and blood is drawn to be tested to see if we are a go for chemo or not. Everything was great today and chemo went very smoothly.

We get Michael settled into the infusion room because as soon as he starts getting his pre-meds for nausea ...

... this is what happens!

Oh - and that masked woman is none other than Michael's best buddy, Jen.

Please keep Michael in your thoughts and prayers, JoAnne.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Michael is my hero! What a brave and wonderful child he is! You should be so proud of him. Tricks of the trade are priceless as well, glad to see you found what you needed to help him thru this time.