102 – Interleukin 2 – the Fight Against Kidney Cancer Continues


We really didn’t do a lot. I pretty much camped in front of the boob tube. Cari “caught the house up” with Bonnie and Allie. You ever notice how there’s nothing to watch on the
Interleukin 2

Greg's Sunglass/Readers

boob tube?  How did Pink Floyd put it? 13 channels of shit on the TV to choose from. Somehow, (can’t imagine Cari had any involvement, yeah right!) it was leaked that I was watching Millionaire Matchmaker all day. Never heard the end of it! I of course denied it and swore I was watching cage fighting.
Inleukin 2

Greg and Kristi Ulmer

Kristy was taking great care of the restaurant. Anyone lucky enough to know Kristy can tell you how awesome she is! She even helped organize fund raisers for us while we were gone. The outpouring of support from the Payson Area community and our families was amazing. It was truly bewildering to have all the communities support! Makes you feel really special and really humble at the same time. Amazing how fast a week goes by. We checked ourselves into ICU again, ready for the Interleukin 2 adventure. After a new pick line was installed of course. Same arm again. I was always worried it was too soon to go back to the same area. But they use that specialized ultrasound and can see where it was last time. So they can pick another vein, since there are several that come through that area, or a different entry point on the same vein. The ICU nurses were actually glad to see us again. They don’t often get patients that are a little younger, happy and positive. They had our room ready, we went in and I changed into the hospital garb. The nurse came in and got me all hooked up. Then they would wait until 2:00 pm to start the eight hour treatment cycle. We made it through the first several doses pretty well.

Then it got tougher.  Besides the Interleukin 2 IV drip line they have to give a number of other meds in pill form.

Greg and Woodside kids have the giggles

The Woodsides Visit

I was still joking around and being strong and determined (at least visibly). So whenever they needed to draw blood or check vitals or whatever, I would try to be really helpful and responsive. I had the fever chills during the earlier doses, but we were all getting to know the signs, so they could “keep in front of it” with medications.   I just accepted that we were doing this and tried to make the best of it – just tried to get through it. Cari was amazing! She never left my side and helped me through it. I hated the blood pressure cuff I had to wear 24/7. It would start every 15 minutes, squeezing my arm super tight. Then the nurse would check all my vitals. They did that every hour. Then the doctor would pop-in to check on me and give updates. Then the anti-clotting pressure cuffs they put on each leg would start, squeezing my legs super tight. Then the monitor alarm would go off because my pulse rate would go too low. Then the machine that delivers the drug through the pick line would be done and its alarm would go off and there would be a shift change and the new nurse would take all my vitals again. This never stopped day or night! I didn’t complain. I was determined to get this all behind me. You just do what ya gotta do, right?  Look for the silver lining – enjoy the great dreams! One week after first IL2 treatmentI didn’t get nausea until the later doses this time. That made us happy. Maybe it would ease up more each time? Cari and I were trying to learn Spanish. So we would try to read our lesson plans and listen to the audio tapes. They were good intentions unfulfilled. There are just too many distractions in ICU. So we just tried to pass the time as best we could.
You can only watch so much TV before you just want to shoot it. The commercials last longer than the programs! Time crept along like a tortoise on a break.
More monitoring, poking and prodding and it was finally Friday! After the mandatory post Interleukin 2 observation period, they were satisfied that I was good to go home. I felt better this time so I drove home. Probably wasn’t a wise choice considering how many meds there were running through my body? Oh well, we made it back to Phoenix and needed to run a few restaurant errands. So after going to Standard Restaurant Equipment, Smart-n-Final and Costco, it turned into a really long day. We probably shouldn’t have pushed it so much. I was weak. I “hit the wall” and needed to rest. 2011 10 Greg Cari IL 2The doctor said that one of the side effects was that my outer layer of skin would peel off & that I would get fatigued easily. We had a four week break this time to allow my body to recuperate. Over the next few weeks it was like I was molting. My skin was shedding. We peeled it like you would a bad sunburn. I was also very shaky. If I held my hands out in front of me I couldn’t keep them still. I definitely spent some time in the Lazy Boy. We weren’t sure I was going to make it to the wedding in Vegas. I was truly honored that Cari’s brother had asked me to be best man in his wedding. He was marrying a girl we have known for a long time. The ceremony was going to be in the Little “Elvis” chapel on the strip in two weeks, just before the third treatment was scheduled. We were preparing her brother Jeff and Angela that we may not make it. I was still shaky. We decided to go at the last minute. We stayed at the Holiday Inn which had a casino downstairs and a Denny’s restaurant attached. We spent a lot of our time downstairs, and it was a really good Denny’s thank God, because we needed it to “re-charge” in the mornings. weddingThere was a good sized wedding party with their kids and our kids and friends and family. I did pretty well at the Black-Jack tables – bonus! A limo picked us up & led the motorcade to the chapel. The ceremony was actually very well done! I just didn’t expect it to be so professional and at the same time so much fun. I had to pass on some of the “festivities” later. I just couldn’t hang with ‘em. I felt bad because I wasn’t the “most” in a best man. I’d just have to be a good friend later whenever I could.

I was having crazy vivid dreams, but I liked it. I know everyone has dreams, but I don’t normally remember them much. Strange that I was remembering now. First visit to California initial Consult with Dr. Figlan

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One Response to 102 – Interleukin 2 – the Fight Against Kidney Cancer Continues

  1. Darcy Greene August 2, 2013 at 5:49 am #

    You guys warm the hearts! Amazing strenghth in all that heat! Luv, Rick and Darcy