I’d like to record for posterity the details of chemo because, pretty soon, I will never never never do this again. EVER.
I go for chemo on Wednesdays, and for some odd reason I usually feel ready to go when it’s time– eager for another notch in my belt. That doesn’t mean that the Tuesday before is an especially joyful day, but at that point I’m allowed to have a glass of wine, so I do. Rob and I drop the girls off at school and day care and head to the hospital’s outpatient infusion center, which would shock you I think because it is huge. After a weigh in (if you think you have a lot of weigh-ins while pregnant, try cancer treatment!) and general health check, one of the nurses escorts you to a little cubby of sorts for your treatment. Most of them have windows, though a few don’t, along with a lounge chair, t.v., guest chair, and a privacy curtain. Next to the chair is that scary pole thing from which all the various medicines are hung so that they are– um, injected? infused? dripped?– at the correct rate. It beeps.
After Rob and I arrive we unpack a movie and our phones and take a picture marking the day. I also get a lanyard with my name, picture, and bar code, which is scanned each time I’m given a drug. This is important because of all those people who want chemo and, um, can’t have it.
Rob has always taken a day off on my chemo days, and I’m so thankful. He keeps me smiling and brings me snacks and usually a yummy lunch from a local restaurant.
It takes between three and four hours to receive all of the drugs. First there are anti-nausea medications, followed by three different chemotherapy drugs. One of them is red and injected from a huge syringe– not my favorite part of the day. As time goes on, I’m starting to develop what I think is a psychosomatic reaction to the smells of the infusion center, especially the large number of alcohol wipes. Instant nausea. We try to stay distracted with funny t.v. shows, reading, and snacks, and usually I take a nap at some point.
By the time we leave, I always feel very woozy and weak. I often go home and take a nap right away, and by the time Rob picks ups the girls I’m often done for the day. During my last round I fell asleep around 7 that night until the next morning.
The days following chemo are surreal. I take anti-nausea meds around the clock, and they do seem to do the trick. I also drink huge quantities of water, sleep a lot, and pass the time with some work. It’s hard to put into words the odd feeling of a post-chemo body. It’s shaky and fuzzy. My fingers and hands seem a bit uncoordinated. I am tired. I have an awful, sour taste in my mouth. Steroids taken for nausea make me hungry and antsy. The effects linger and linger, and usually it takes a solid 9 – 10 days before I start to feel normal again– though before that time I am certainly functional and sustain the outward appearance of normality.
I’m not quite sure how to say how happy I am to know that this phase of my treatment will be done soon. I am sick of it in every possible way. My last round is scheduled for November 28 and thought I’m not quite sure how I’ll mark the day, it will be with something very special!