Another hurdle has been passed and I amazingly did not fall flat on my face like the nightmares predicted. Yesterday began with my girlfriend Sharon, who is also a nurse, getting us to the hospital and up to the new cancer clinic unit on the second floor. We trundle in with bags of food, spare clothes, the stack of information sheets and books and pills, Homer (Mom and Kim's bear) in his carry satchel, purses and coats and even a rose in a vase in tow. (All carried with my one good arm to avoid lymphedema, of course! And Sharon had all but one swinging from her teeth! Look out, we're moving in!) My mad dash to the washroom produced only a nervous dribble- the last time that would be an issue once starting the two litres of recommended water a day. You need that much just to wash down the fistful of vitamins and supplements pills I'm on.
The Chemo Chair (duh, duh, de, duh) pulls back Easy Boy style and a beautiful heated quilt was placed around me. Two Ativan popped under my tongue...calm...calm...WHAT, the Chemo drugs have arrived from down the hall? Already?...calm...calm ...is that Mozart playing in the background. Look, I can see the ski hill from here and there's fresh snow on the runs!
Getting the needle placed properly into a vein finally had the skillful rock, Alice, flustered. Alice is such a dear, always thinking of everything before you do, of really understanding what you must be feeling. Always getting it right and if not doing everything she can to get it that way. Her hand had a noticeable tremor after the first ten minutes before calling the other nurse over. I guess I shouldn't have told a friend's story about an improper placement causing scarring and pain while this was going on. Loretta must have been listening because it took her a few tries as well. NO worries I assure everyone. Dr. B in Terrace had already won the Grimace Award for that pre-surgical wire placement. For that much pain, you should receive a baby or better, a (quiet) golden egg for the effort. Aw, Buckle up Deb. Old Age Ain't No Place For Sissies! And I bet I'll have to say it again. And again before life is over.
My dear friend Dr. Sandi arrives fresh from an overnight shift downstairs at Emerg. She' s propped up on coffee and admits she managed a few winks between calls, so she stays and we're all laughing and Sharon is fussing with my blankets and the drip is started. The moment comes, a tear looms large and then I look away and it is all fine. I do not feel anything. I imagined a big surge of Drano-like stinging or burning or instant metal drip down my throat. But there is nothing so we return to laughing and chatting. I am doing this. The ninety minutes pass so fast I am amazed and Alice returns to flush the vein with saline before connecting the next drug. For this one I wear frozen mitts to help stop the flow of the drug into my hands. There is a chance of it affecting the nails to the point where they thicken, blacken and possibly fall off. The mitts, I am assured, work well. What about my feet, I worry- trying to keep them pointed up in the air and quickly ditching my warm shoes? Sandi explains why it's not as big a concern, but I'm still thinking of ice packs for them next visit. There is a trip to somewhere warm after all of this, I hope! It would be nice to have the nails intact if possible. I'm a big believer in practising prevention (well, at least after having two babies in as many years I try to be more proactive about it. Thank goodness that turned out to be SUCH a good thing! Okay, so maybe I'll start a blackened toenail craze?)
The other two chemo chairs are now filled with an elderly pair with cancers that make breast issues sound trivial. My four treatments barely make me feel legitimate stacked against their 20+. I am an impostor. A surface girl. Surrounded by friends, a rose, a stuffed bear. What planet am I even from? Good thing I left my tiara home with a last minute change of mind!
Before we know it, it's over. Three hours and I was even fed a hospital meal of soup, hamburger noodle entree and peaches in water. No time to run the movie with all the questions and talking and eating and drinking. Which meant no time to get nervous- even another friend Jen dropped by- thank you Ladies! Total distraction. They know me so well! I made it through. The next three are going to be a breeze. Maybe I'll let Barry come after all.
Sandi went home to sleep and Sharon and I went shopping. What? We were in Smithers with the Christmas season looming. Top picks move fast in the few stores that we have so if you need selection, a post chemo visit will have to work. I did bump into quite a few displays and counters, but luckily didn't have to buy anything I didn't need. I made it for another hour before being whisked home, snoring all the way. Sharon and I hugged and parted ways. I made it to the couch where I slept until 9:50 pm when I awoke wondering which end was up. Is it morning, night, do I need to take a pill for anything? A little heartburn, headache, a dryness at the back of my throat so I downed a half T-3 and all was good. The Chemo is in and its staying in, as in not coming out rather quickly from one orifice or another as again the nightmares predicted. Mind you, today is only the start of Day Two. "Give it a chance to start working" I'm told. (As I write this I am enveloped in about the seventh hot flash I forgot to mention has been happening since taking the pre-chemo steroidal anti-inflammatory) At least the hair roots are holding. I check them on the hour!