Survivorship, Day 42
Had my first chemo Friday. I wasn’t nervous until we got into the parking lot. I hadn’t really thought too much about all the nitty gritty until I got there. Which is probably good or I might have run away to Greece. I had my blood draw first to make sure I was healthy enough to get chemo. My veins are great and the bloodletter was happy with me. She displays a beautifully cross-stiched plaque that someone made and framed for her that says “Cancer Sucks” with flowers all around it. I laughed when I saw it. Truer words have never been hand-stiched.
I chose a recliner at the far end, with a view of the street and a few meagre tree tops. The recliners are extremely comfortable, not that awful kind that thrust your head forward when you sit in them upright. The nurse went over how she would access my port and said my blood work looked great. Then she put antisceptic on the port area, some freezy spray, then a giant needle into the port. Which hurt but only because my skin is still tender there from being stretched over the port. Once I was plugged in she put a big piece of tape over the plug and then started saline and a bag of Aloxi and steriods. Aloxi is the wonder anti-nausea drug, and the steriods are to combat swelling from one of the chemo drugs.
I had no sensation of anything going in because when the drugs are put through a port they go into a big vein and you can’t feel it. After the Aloxi was in then came the fruit punch, also known as Adriamycin. It was the first actual chemo drug, which really does look like fruit punch. It was a two hour infusion, so during that one I had to figure out how to navigate the bathroom. Which really made me feel like a “patient,” getting up and dragging an IV pole with me. Then my pee was fruit punch colored from the drug! Might as well have fun pee if you have to be stuck all day having infusions.
I felt shaky the whole time. I don’t know if it was the stress of being there or the drugs going in or something else, but I gave up trying to figure it out. It just is. That’s something that I keep coming to over and over again in this experience. Lots of what’s going on just cannot be figured out or explained. Emotions come from nowhere, bodily reactions, crying, I have stopped trying to figure them out. I just ride them out and try to keep myself in the middle as much as I can.
The second drug, Cytoxan, which is the worst name of a drug ever, was uneventful. Then the third one, Taxotere, is the one that can make your nails fall off. So I put on some rubber gloves, received a container of ice and spent an hour-and-a-half putting my hands in ice as long as I could tolerate it.
Underlying this entire day, my friend Cari was there, keeping me talking, playing spades with me, fetching food and making me laugh. We talked with many other people who came and went – I was the only long infusion of the day. Everyone else was getting a small bag of something other other or a shot in the gut (which I get to go get Monday), and two people came in to have blood removed because they have too much iron. One couple that sat across from us has been married for a hundred years, and they both have cancer. She has bone cancer and was in for iron treatment, he has prostate cancer and gets radiation. Most everyone was much older than me. I did meet one new friend, who’s my age, and is also having pre-chemo. (That’s what they call chemo before surgery. Usually it’s the other way around). It was nice to talk to someone in the same life stages with young kids. Hoping she and I can be support for each other.
The session took longer than they told me it would. This seems to be standard with anything that has to do with cancer. We got there at 9 and left at 3:15. We rounded up the kids and came back to the apartment, where I proceeded to lay in bed surrounded by my babies before Chris came to get them.
Saturday morning I managed to make it to Grace’s soccer game, but was not feeling well while I was there. I took an Ativan, which helped immensely. I have spent most of the rest of the weekend laying around, eating small meals, drinking tea and lots of water. I feel generally queasy, but more like my intestines are very busy than my stomach is upset. It kind of feels like nervous stomach. I feel tired but am not sleeping as much as I would like.
Tomorrow I get a shot in my gut to help rebuild my white cells, which get decimated from the chemo. By the end of next weekend/beginning of next week I probably won’t have my hair anymore. I’m ready for that. If I knew for sure it was going to fall out I’d shave it now and get it over with already.
Overall I am low on energy but my spirits are high and I have enjoyed everyone’s texts and messages and jokes, and am grateful for the opportunity to share this journey with so many people I love and who love me, providing the hands and feet of god.
Please keep praying!