Jun 18, 2011

10 Days for 10 Years ... Day 5

Chemo day…
I know you probably think that I’d be dreading this day, but really, when you’re told you have cancer all you want is for it to be out.
“Get it out!”
“Get it out!”
“Get it out!”
It’s a never ending chant, running loops, over and over again in your head.  It’s like a bee has landed on you.  You can feel it crawling up your neck; humming in your ears.  Fingers of fear seize your sanity and make you crazy. 
Same when you’re told you have cancer.
At the same time, the way you “get it out” is just as frightening.
They were accessing my port.
You know I googled it.
Asked other people if they knew how it felt.
I have a bit of a vivid imagination so you can only imagine the crazy ideas that went through my mind.
The other thing… would I feel the chemo?  Would I know instantly that I was poisoning my body?
Today I took my seat in the lazy-boy chemo room.
“This is Kim.” Dr. Chawla said as he showed me to my seat.  “I think you two will get along nicely.” Kim had a magnetic smile that lit her eyes up with enthusiasm and she was bald.
“Just breathe.”  She said as I sat down.
“What does accessing your port feel like?”  Rushed out of my mouth.
“That’s what you’re worried about?”  She smiled and patted my hand that had a cat like death grip on the arm of the chair. “It feels like a shot.  You’ll feel a cool rush from the saline wash and then nothing.”
She was right.
Past the first prick of the needle and the cool rush, I didn’t feel anything.
No body seizing in revolt.
No immediate vomiting.
I sat and watched Oprah with Kim and my mom.
Chemo wasn’t so bad…
After six hours in the chemo chair they changed my bag, taught me how to change the batteries and gave me an emergency number if I had any problems. 
I walked out of the door with a confident no-problem swagger for my first night…
I was doin’ chemo!
That night the constant swish, swoosh, pause; swish, swoosh, pause … VOMIT… kept me and Mark up all night. 
The swish, swoosh, pause was the chemo pump and, well the vomit… That was me.
Yeah, I was doin’ chemo alright.
The next morning I crawled back into Dr. Chawla’s chemo chair.
“First night’s always the roughest.” Kim said. “It gets easier.”  The chemo nurse pulled back the giant plastic bandage from Kim’s chest, unplugged the needle from Kim’s port-a-catheter and told her to be back tomorrow for a count check. 
I was still on Round 1, Day 1 of a 7 day cycle.
“Hang in there.  It’s like climbing a mountain, don’t look at the top; focus on the step in front of you and you’ll be at the end in no time.”  She smiled and grabbed her bag.  “I’ll check in on you tomorrow.”
By the end of the seventh day, I had vomiting down to an art form.  I could tell when I was going to hurl.  A strong metallic taste would start at the back of my jaw, like I was sucking on a 9 volt battery.  I had a couple seconds to prepare and then …. WHALAH I would let loose.
The swish, swoosh of my pump had been muffled by sticking the pump and the pack under my pillow.  We made the hour and half commute from Huntington Beach to Santa Monica with me usually asleep holding a gallon zip lock bag for, well … my master pieces of hurl.
My almost waist length hair was still there, all though it felt like each individual strand was being pulled out by the root. I was weak, exhausted but I had made it through the first round.  Nowhere near the top of the mountain, but not at the bottom either.
“Come back in two days,” the chemo nurse said.  “We’ll check your counts and hope they’re good enough to start again.”
“Great.”  That was my sarcasm leaking through.  “What happens if they aren’t?”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” The chemo nurse ripped off the bandage and sent me home. 
Sadly, I was still puking and my counts were plummeting....  

I loved this dance routine.
I didn't have breast cancer, but at some point, cancer is cancer.
The fight and courage of both really speaks to me.
Many focus on the woman in this piece. 
Watch the man. 
I think this is EXACTLY how Mark was feeling.
Anyway, I thought it would be perfect for today's post.
 Hope you enjoy.

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