Thursday, April 27, 2006

Chemo, Round One

(Originally written 4/14/2006)

When faced with something new, unknown and scary, I do what I like to call “going to the dark side”. This is more or less a mental journey that takes into consideration all the very worst things that could happen, if all the side effects went into full tilt boogie at the same time, and if
they were all awful and uncontrollable by any modern medical “cocktails”.

Once I have gone there, I come back to reality, and just let it be. And that is what I did today, day one for chemo. The funny part was that the telephone kept ringing on and off, from 7 am until 8 ish. Sofie got it right “Mom, it is just because people are wanting you to be ok and tell
you they love you” And I was trying to get Sofie up, dressed, hair combed and fed while packing a light snack for the hospital (for my mom more than me), and making sure that I had blankie packed up for tonight, as she is off to be with Jamie “in case” of nausea or whatever.

Then, when Delma (self-designated driver and cancer nurse incognito) arrived, we just left the house, with bags of distractions, snacks, etc.

Dropped off Sofie to Chris who has his daughter Lucie (one year younger than Sofie, see old photo attached) and a seven month old.

Then off to Duke, when I registered ten or so minutes before my appointment, was given a buzzer as if I were at the Cheesecake Factory waiting for a good table, and then nothing….for an hour. Of course, when I went to ask about this, I was in fact, next up on the pile (I could see my chart).

Instead of the chairs we had seen last time, on our stealth visit, I got a hospital bed, complete with ceiling affixed plasma flat screen TV (not with dvd player, sadly) and that was in honor of the first visit. Kathie was my nurse, I only winced a bit when the IV was started, swallowed my starter benedryl without water and awaited the dripping…the Taxol went first, over about two and three quarter hours, then the “carbo” which is the one that can really cause fatigue, they say. I think it will be interesting to see what they mean by fatigue, is that similar to what I experienced the first year of mothering, when I slept an average of four hours a night, usually interrupted and used to mainline Starbucks and Peets? Or as they described it “fatgue like you were hit by a truck” (see explanation previously given). I will wait and see.

Overall, the treatments went without incident of any kind. The pharmacist tried to give me booklets on side effects, but I had pretty much read everything, so I got a few handouts. Good ones, but that was about it.

It was interesting to observe the waiting room. A fair amount of “old” folks (meaning older than me) but also a lot of people younger. And sometimes, I would try to guess who the patient was, only to find out later, while passing a treatment area, that the older woman who was with the woman of about 35 or so with the big frosted hair was the mom or support person and the frosted person was the patient. And the cookies and juice were being consumed by everyone, so that was not a good indicator either…..

It does just support the “this feels surreal” moment or two I have in the clinic. I find myself in the observer role, in Social Worker mode, just wondering about things, making mental notes of things that are good and areas for improvement. But mostly focusing on being there and

accepting the care, niceness and eventually, the intensely person nature of having big toxins intentionally pumped into my veins. Me, who declines Advil most of the time for minor pain. Me, who did not even really do much recreational drugs. Oh well, it is just a phase in my life,

one that I hope will be over without much incident, a bump on the overall journey.

So, to conclude this more brief update, it went well so far, I have anti nausea drugs here at home and I am planning to sit and watch Memoirs of a Geisha for the next few hours, assuming that big truck of fatigue passes me by.

Nice spending time with my mom, too. Although the circumstances could be better!

CT scan on Tuesday was good, not showing lymph involvement. So this chemo is more precautionary. But necessary. 20% done, and let’s see how it goes.

Attached, are two photos of KIMO, wonderful companion to Alan Lessik, shaved in solidarity for my soon to be shaved head. The babushka picture is Alan’s idea of a head garment I hopefully won’t do too much, and Alan, everyone knows you tie it in the back, not under the chin.

For reference, there is a photo of Sofie and KIMO from when she was three and a half or so. She looks like such a baby, but she is tall and grown up now.

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