The Gimpy Colon*

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The Turkey Box…

on April 5, 2011

Yesterday, I had my fourth Remicade infusion. Remicade is one of those drugs that can best be described as nuclear waste… or poison. It’s basically a bio-hazard, and I get to send it racing through my veins in hopes for a remission from Crohn’s disease. Here’s how it works:

(From The immune system protects the body by responding to “invaders” like bacteria, viruses, and other foreign matter that enter your body by producing antibodies and putting them into action to fight off the “invaders”. In Crohn’s disease, TNF can cause your immune system to attack healthy tissues in your body and cause inflammation and damage. If Crohn’s is left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the tissue in the digestive or gastrointestinal tract. Remicade helps put Crohn’s into remission by neutralizing TNF-alpha. Remicade is therefore called a TNF “antagonist” that works with your body’s immune system to block TNF-alpha, reducing inflammation. Remicade targets, binds to, and blocks TNF-alpha in the affected area to relieve painful symptoms of Crohn’s.

…or so that’s what’s supposed to happen…

I was put on Remicade pretty much right off the bat back in December. It’s a crazy expensive drug (about 4k per infusion) so I had to get permission from my insurance to get the infusions. They made with the permission pretty quickly, which always makes me wonder if I’m sicker than I actually feel. So every 8 weeks, this is what I do:

I go down to the local hospital (the one smack in the middle of the city) and go to their Medical Outpatient Unit or MOPU which they pronounce “MOP-YOU”… which I think is kind of cute. The MOPU looks like a big blood bank with those big comfy chairs. No cookie table in immediate view though which was always my blood giving incentive. Each room has four chairs in it (or beds, I think the beds are for the chemotherapy and the more poisony treatments). 1 hour before my appointment I have to call in my weight which is always SUCH A TREAT… you know, being on prednisone and everything… When I get to my appointment, my Remicade is all mixed up and ready for me. I get one of the chairs, which reclines, a remote control and tv that has more cable channels than I have at home, and of course, I always have my busy bag with a collection of readables. The nurse then checks my vitals, blood pressure, checks the lungs, all that good stuff.

After that, nurse starts an IV, flushes some nice saline through, and hooks me up to the Remicade bag. Then, and this is the best part, the nurse asks me if I need anything. That’s when I say “YES!!! I’d like the turkey box please”.

During my first infusion, the nurse asked me the same question, and I asked her what she had, and she went through this heavenly list of things… cookies, chips, sodas, and of course the turkey box. I don’t think the appeal of the turkey box has anything to do with actual taste. I think it’s a matter of someone actually bringing it to me. The turkey box is a turkey sandwich on a roll, with a little cup of applesauce, coleslaw (which I’m not allowed to have anyway) and two graham crackers… AND little condiments… and I’ll just point out right now, that I’m the type of person who likes airline food… and I think it’s also because someone brings it to me rather than me having to go and get it myself. I’m also a big fan of clever box lunch packaging.

So for two hours, every 8 weeks, I get to watch whatever I want on TV… eat my turkey box, and sit with my feet up. If there were spa treatments involved, we’d be on to something here. Yesterday, I watched an awful episode of Kate Plus 8. It’s the first, and hopefully the last time, I ever watch the show. Sometimes I have a person next to me, sometimes I’m all alone. My second infusion involved an elderly lady who REALLY liked to curse, and amused me for the entire time.. as in “I should have been dead years ago… now GET ME SOME SALT!!!!”. Most of all though, it’s two hours of absolutely nothing but sitting.. no one needs to be let out, no one needs dinner… if we’re out of whites… it’s really not my problem, not for two hours… that actually makes it worth it to be injected with poison.

One of the things they make you do your first time out is stay and make sure you don’t have any side effects. I didn’t have anything notable happen the first time out, except being tired afterward. The second and third I was tired and yesterday’s actually went OK. I didn’t feel horribly tired, and my pain decreased a bit.

Is it working? I have no idea. I hope so. I actually like the possibility of having something injected into me that is actually helping. I do feel better than I did a few days ago, so maybe it is working.

If the doctor takes me off of Remicade, I’m going to REALLY miss the turkey box. I suppose I can make up my own turkey box, but it won’t be the same.

My next spa.. er…um… Remicade treatment is in 8 weeks… woot!



One response to “The Turkey Box…

  1. Renee says:

    Maura, I like airplane food too. What’s the big deal that people make of it being so horrific?

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