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Nikki Luongo

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A Day in the Life of the Infused

Posted: 08/18/11 03:28 PM ET

When I get my infusion or White Cell Transfer, the Doctors call it "The Good People's blood" because it's white cells from Mormons -- I'd imagine if they knew the sinner that the cells would be transplanted, they'd probably quit while they're ahead. It's a day-long process and it's exhausting.

The day before infusion, I hit the grocery store for snacks and my lunch. I don't usually get a lot of things because certain things turn my stomach but I get enough snacks to last through the day. I'm chained to an IV all day... I need sustenance.

I usually hit two stores depending on what I feel like. The first stop is Roach Brothers, where i pick up grapes, carrots and cheese cubes and the occasional coffee muffin...

The second stop on the Chuck Wagon express is Market Basket, where I grab one small container of tuna sandwiches, a box of Cheez Its, small Goldfish bag and maybe some cookies.

Then I go back home, and organize my food... I put the grapes, carrots and cheese cubes along with a little ranch dressing into one container, then organize the Goldfish and Cheez Its into a trail mix and finally put the little sandwiches into another one... throw it in my lunch box and anticipate the next day.

Because it's such a long day, I wear comfy clothes.. usually PJ bottoms and an oversized Dane Cook shirt plus a cheap pair of flip-flops. No earrings, jewelry, nothing because I'm not impressing anyone and I don't want to wear anything that might be cut off just in case I have a freaky reaction.

Infusion starts at 7:30am so my behind is up at 6:15 am ...

After I get dressed and put my lunch box together, I grab my favorite water bottle and put nearly half a gallon of lemonade into... this will backfire later when I drink it and can't go to the bathroom because I'm hooked to an IV.

Then I put my bag together... my favorite blanket that has a picture of a girl with pig-tails and 'Miss Bitch' written across the bottom, a Betty Boop travel pillow, my portable DVD player and of my course my DVD case which I agonize over what to watch ....

All in my PINK! Victoria Secret Bag... that has been abused more times than I can think.

Before I leave home, I also grab my cell and iPod because I'm lost without my tunes. I also have to take three pre-meds to avoid headaches, vomiting and sometimes the shakes.

Then it's off to the hospital.

It's only 20 minutes from my house and after I park, it almost feels like the long walk from the car to the execution deck ...

I give them my name at the front desk and in the three years I've been doing this, they've never gotten my name right once.

'Nicole La Lo Lor..." the woman behind the counter calls into the infusion room.

'It's LUONGO ... L-U-O-N-G-O" I spell it out for her.

"Right..." the woman dismisses me like I'm wrong and tells me to go in.

I walk to the back of the room past a few chemo patients and to the nurses station.

'Hello Darling!' I greet the nurse, Karen, behind the desk, who tells me to go into a room the size of a closet with a curtain in front of it.

I organize my things on the rollaway table, Phone, iPod, DVD player and the case... then spread out the blanket and pillow on a chair that looks like a dentist chair and then put my lunch in the nurses fridge.

After I do all that.. I sit back and get ready... mainly I wish the butterflies dancing would stop in my stomach.

The nurse, Karen, puts a hospital bracelet on my wrist and asks my name and birthday.

"Janis Joplin... August 1969..." Every infusion comes a new name.

The debate next is which hand she'll stick. So far I've had both hands, my wrists, inside of my elbow... probably in about 10 years I'll need a pic-line in my neck or collarbone.

When she does slide the needle in, I have to watch because I'm one of those people who used to run screaming out of room at the sight of blood and because it's necessary I can't look away.

After Karen attaches my medicine. She shuts the curtains and the lights and I turn on the DVD player... I usually get about halfway through an episode of That Girl before I completely pass out from exhaustion... and I've only been up for about an hour and half...

I usually sleep three hours until around lunchtime, during which time the volunteers came around with sandwiches that have been sitting out. They're disgusting... old ham and turkey with no cheese.

And when I wake up, they say the same thing over and over again, "She's alive!"

Then I grab my lunch... dragging my IV pole beside me... and go back to my chair.

I usually munch my way through three TV shows, two movies and maybe half an episode of Law and Order: SVU.

Sometimes my father drops by for an hour, we talk and when I start to sleep, he's still rambling about something...

More than often when my father comes to sit with me, we go for a walk around the nurses station because my ass is exhausted from sitting so long.

When I walk around and see the different people having chemo and radiation, I feel stupid because all I have is a weakened immune system, I'm not fighting for my life in the least, I don't have to worry about losing my hair, tumors regrowing or being in isolation.

Usually I'm done around 3ish, and when they rip the tape off holding the needle in my arm or wherever, I tend to yelp like I'm being tortured... because it is painful and that's what also leads to the massive bruises especially if i don't drink enough water the day before.

After I'm done, I go home and sleep for a few hours because although I slept for a few hours earlier, it's exhausting and it's super stressful on my already abused body and it seems like i need the next day to recover as well.

In the beginning of my infusion, my mother would take time off her job and sit with me because the doctors decided I wouldn't handle them by myself and I needed someone who could drive me home and make necessary medical decisions.

But after the first six, she figured I could handle on my own, plus I would sleep for most of the time, which made things totally boring for her and also because of her back, she couldn't sit for too long anyway.

I would never ask anyone to sit with me because it's too much for someone to bear what is my plight and besides, everyone I know has jobs and lives and I can't ask them to give up anything for me.

So at the end of the day, it's nothing but continuing on this crazy journey..