I have learned from my seat in the smaller chair next to the plushy treatment chair through my mom’s prolonged chemo tour de force that there is something unique about the whole chemo treatment scene. It isn’t exactly zen, but it is different in kind from the rest of the medical scene. There is a kind of peacefulness there. Time moves a little differently. There is so much waiting, but also so much taking place. All the double checking and bracelet scanning. All the side effect management: zofran, steroids, saline flushing. All the please-repeat-your-name-and-birthdate. Do you need a snack? More water? And of course, finally the steady drip dripping of the meds through the IV.
It is surprisingly communal. No closed doors, no doors at all. Maybe a pulled curtain, a hushed voice. But in the end it is a large room of people waiting together to take in the poisonous stuff that they hope will make them better. There is laughter, the smell of french fries, IV’s beeping, ginger ale tabs fizz-popping open, texts pinging in from all directions.
Yesterday was my first time being the one in the plushy chair. It was weird, but mercifully uneventful. I had no allergic reaction to the first drug as I had been warned I might but probably would not–although I felt the keen eyes of the hazmat-suited nurse peeping in on me during the crucial 7-10 minute window. I had a little “wasabi nose” from the second bag of chemo–a weird burning in the front of the face like you just had a big too-quick bite of sushi, but it was minor. I got a little flush
ed from the steroids and zonked by the anti-nausea meds, but mostly I was just me, with John by my side in the less comfy chair. I sipped my water and munched my Lorna Doones from my serene little window-seated corner of the treatment room and watched the bags slowly empty into me. Then we were done.
This morning I feel a little crappier, but not terrible. It’s hard to know how much of the side effects are prompted by reading the side effect labels. I had to inject myself this morning with a needle of Neulasta, which will keep the blood counts up, hopefully, to help fight off infection. It gives you fluiness and bone pain, supposedly, b
ut so far I’m holding steady. My mood is boosted this morning by the results of Thursday’s PET/CT and bone scans that show no evidence of metastasis at this point. Yipee!! There’s some drama I’d rather not re-live anytime real soon. Of course, I am aware that is also my future.
Anyway–hanging tough here on Mendenhall Street for now. The hair goes on Monday–
my next hurdle. Mostly I am bolstered by the overwhelming kindnesses and friendships and thoughtfulness and generosities that you all have sent our way. It is truly humbling and already has changed me forever.