Friday, June 9, 2017

Pembro report: so far, so good!

My first pembro infusion was a non-event, as I more or less expected. I hope it continues to be uneventful!

Both of my previous Nurse Practicioners have moved on to other jobs, including alas Sarah the opera fan. The new one, Lisa, is not an opera fan (which surprised me because I thought this was a prerequisite for working in the urology clinic). Lisa has experience with pembro, although mostly with melanoma and lung cancer. She was very positive about pembro being a low-impact treatment. According to her, the most common side-effects in order of frequency are (1) fatigue, (2) dry, itchy skin, and (3) diarrhea. Many patients, she says, continue whatever they were doing before with no problems. Excellent! I can return to my plan of one-upping Alex Honnold, who's gotten a lot of press for his recent free-solo of the ``Freerider'' route on El Capitan. Oh come on, he rehearsed the route with a rope multiple times before going ropeless, and took four hours to do it. And it's only 5.12D, what's the big deal? My plan is to do it on-sight, at night, in under forty minutes.

The immunotherapy infusions are shorter and simpler than the chemo. First I go to the urology clinic where Deanna ``accesses'' my chestport and takes out a couple of gallons of blood for testing. Or maybe it was three teaspoons, something like that. At the first withdrawal she remarked ``oh, this is old blood''. Excuse me? Whose blood are you calling old! It's an hour 30 min. appointment, and although it doesn't take quite that long, it has to be done as a sterile procedure and that drags it out a bit.

Up in 8th floor southeast, I was disappointed not to see any of the old gang besides Rose. Tom, Dana, Glen, et. al. were all off travelling or otherwise enjoying themselves, the nerve! My infusion nurse was a new one (new to me, I mean) named Alyson. She's about my age, I think, and just got back from a bicycle vacation in Italy, in the region around Torino that we visited last September. She even speaks a little Italian, so that was fun. Like me, her first foreign language was French. After college she worked as a nanny in Paris for a while, and told me this story: In the US she often donated blood. Afterwards they give you a few crackers and a cup of orange juice. She thought ``why not donate blood in France as well''? So she did, and afterwards got a complete lunch with choice of red or white wine, followed by a sugar cube dipped in cognac.

The infusion part of the appointment was under two hours. They start you with a half-dose, then in three weeks decide if you can tolerate a full dose. So far, so good...

Had a great time at the Mariners' game last Sunday. Of course, it's always fun to be with the Brown family, but also we had great seats and it was a good game (2-run homer by Cruz, spectacular catch in left field by Powell...). It amazes me what a long attention span Kaia and Finley have for these games. For some time now they've both known how to read the scoreboard, and Finley keeps up a running commentary: ``It's looking good, guys! Runners on the corners, only one out, two balls and no strikes!''

In any case, there really isn't that much to report. No news is good news!

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