And so it came to pass. I took the last Tarceva pill on Friday, 19 April, 2014 to make way for the trials. That means if Tarceva were to be re-challenged, l have enough leftover Tarceva pills in the medicine cabinet to last me until I reach ripe old age, which is pretty shortly.
On April 21st, while my husband was paying attention to the happenings on northbound I-25, I was reviewing the photos texted to me on Easter Sunday. The picture of the colored eggs with faces and feather beards grabbed my attention. My only grandchild, the seven-year-old son of my only child, had made them. And then, as I was chuckling, something happened. The Easter eggs reminded me of my retirement nest egg. The cost of these trips to Denver and back are posing a serious threat to my casino funds. I immediately emailed my trial coordinator and expressed exactly my concern and asked her if by chance, my trial-related travel expenses are reimbursable. She laughed at my worries, but yes, she confirmed, I will be reimbursed. At the next gas stop, I bought a couple of lottery crossword puzzles. Why not, I was on a roll!
Dinner that night marked the end of my food intake for the day. I had to fast prior to the blood draw the following morning.
Early the next day, April 22nd, I checked in for the blood draw. The receptionist asked me to choose one of three options: an IV (intravenous), an arm draw, or a third one that I missed entirely because the arm draw got me so excited. I chose “arm.”
A pretty young slim thing with a Cleopatra hairdo greeted me. I raised my hand and told her “High five!” She obliged and laughed, then frowned. Clearly, she had never met a patient in such a celebratory mood just before bloodshed. In the curtained cubicle, she placed ten, yes ten, as in two times five equals ten, small color-coded tubes on the tray. The drawing went much faster than the one a week ago, which was through an IV stub-out.
“Your blood flows real good,” she commented.
“I probably was a bride of Dracula in a previous life,” I explained.”
After the bloodletting, my caregiver rushed me to the hospital cafeteria to get me something to eat and end the 18-hour fast. The Colorado burrito never had a chance to be analyzed by the New Mexico fiery food aficionado.
Next I checked in for the meeting with my Onc’s Onc. The intake nurse measured my blood pressure, weight, and body temperature. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, he escorted my husband and me unceremoniously to the examination room. In a few minutes, the world renowned good doctor strode in. We kidded about the Tarceva Diva and talked about family, trial issues and stories, etc. Throughout the conversation, I could not help but admire the harmonizing of our diametrically opposed foreign accents – his of the cold Atlantic sort and mine of the warm rice-paddy variety. Then he went through the motions that physicians do with the stethoscope, listening to my heart and lungs. He reviewed the latest blood readings, took notes, and announced gladly that I may now start taking my CO-1686 pills, and turned me over to my trial coordinator.
My trial coordinator did an EKG on me and when it was done, she gave me a white paper sack that had 12 sealed plastic medicine bottles containing a total of 252 round pills. She told me to take six pills in the morning and another six at night with food. I had to confess to her an overture for approval to cut the pills in half. When it comes to taking pills, I have always been a drama queen. I am not a taker. I only take pain pills when absolutely necessary. When I was a little girl, my mother used to crush a pill and hide the resulting little grains in a piece of an overripe banana, which I could swallow. Or she would smash a pill into powder form, put it in a spoon with water, which I could swallow. To assure me that the CO-1686 pills were not as large as horse pills, the trial coordinator opened a bottle, counted six pills, and handed me a glass of water. She and my husband watched me take one pill, one gulp, six times. At the end of the last one, we all broke into laughter. The Diva survived her clinical trial’s first dose! Two hours later, I went through another EKG to make sure my heart was still beating after 750mg of CO-1686 bombarded my system. It was.
And so another day at the on-site clinical trial ended. As my husband and I walked to the car in the sprawling parking lot, the day’s events so stoked and energized me that I felt like doing cartwheels all the way home to Albuquerque. But then it dawned on me: that can only be fun if I were wearing a mini-skirt!