Monday, April 23, 2012

My Trip Down the Cancer Wormhole - Part 12

Takes me a couple of days to recover from chemo treatment number one. After one sick day and one early out from work, I’m back to working 10 hours every day. Whatever my “normal” is these days, I’m there. Mr. S. said my hair would start to fall out three or four weeks after the first chemo treatment. I really should be buying something to cover my head but I’m procrastinating. I did finally buy some buffs and bandanas, and The Best Husband surprised me with some really nice head covers and fake bangs. Not sure I’ll ever wear the bangs, but it was a great thought! It’s around this time that I ditch the sports bra and go back to my iron maiden protective holder. I’m sick of the uniboob. I still have two boobs, and they should be displayed as individuals.

Two weeks to the day from the first chemo treatment, my hair starts falling out. I can’t even touch my hair without coming away with a handful. Two weeks. Not three or four weeks. I feel like a Golden Retriever….leaving a trail of hair everywhere I go. I don’t like it. This is the exact reason I don’t have a Golden Retriever. I make big piles of hair on the bathroom counter. Two days later, on a sunny Saturday morning in February 2012, I tell The Best Husband I’ve had enough. Get out the clippers. Something I never thought I’d be saying to The Best Husband. Standing in the bathtub, The Best Husband shaved my head, very gingerly because my scalp is extremely tender. I knew it would be a disturbing sight, but I don’t think I was really prepared for what I saw in the mirror. I burst into tears. The Best Husband and Best Daughter gave me a group hug. I cried for a few seconds, and then dried my tears. It is, after all, just hair. It will grow back. And I wasn’t completely bald. I had some gray and white clumps left. They didn’t last long though. My hair continued to fall out until all I had left was some peach fuzz. From the back I look like a little old man. Awesome.

Food is not my favorite thing. Nothing tastes good. Nothing sounds good. I’m completely off coffee. I eat whatever I feel like eating, whenever I feel like eating it. For about a week, I have huge sores on the side of my tongue, which hinders the eating process even more. The Best Husband mixes up some salt/baking soda water for swishing around in my mouth. It helps. I’m also using the prescription toothpaste I got from the dentist and flossing every day. Chemo is very bad for your teeth.

March 1st, it’s back to the cancer center for chemotherapy treatment number two. After today, I’ll be 50% done. Whoop! Same routine. Hook up the IV. Donate two vials of blood. Doctor listens to my heart and lungs and determines I’m good to go. Blood work must have been good, too. The nurse hangs the anti-nausea medication and the saline bags. We’re off and running. The Best Daughter comes to keep me company. I send to her to buy me a 7-11 slurpee. I’m not feeling well.

Eventually an elderly woman sits in the chair next to me. She seems “hard.” You know, like her life has not been easy. She has the look of a seasoned smoker. I don’t know her name, so I’ll call her Marge. The nurses hook Marge up to her first medicine bag. Within 10 minutes, she is having a full blown allergic reaction to the medication. Her face is as red as a lobster. She yells for the nurses. Saying she doesn’t feel good and is seeing black spots. The nurse turns off the IV. The chemo doctor rushes over. The nurses give her a shot of epinephrine and another of Benadryl. She keeps saying “oh shit” and “did you turn off that damn medicine” over and over and over. The chemo doctor, who by the way has the personality of a wet paper bag, is telling her to sit back and calm down. Like this is no big deal. It might not be a big deal to you lady doctor, but it’s a big deal to Marge. If she was my doctor, I’d probably be telling her to shut up and get the hell away from me. Anyway, Marge finally does calm down. Her color returns to normal. But now she’s shaking like a leaf in a strong breeze, all hopped up on epinephrine and Benadryl.  The nurses tell her she has to wait one hour before she can leave. She informs the doctor that she’s done with treatment. She tried it once, like she promised she would, but now she’s done. Marge proceeds to tell me she has stage four lung cancer. She’s just going to let nature take its course.  I’m sure my eyeballs were the size of flying saucers. I can’t imagine not trying everything possible to beat cancer, but that’s just me.  Marge makes a call on her cell phone. The call, which only lasts about 10 minutes, is laced with F-bombs. And Marge is a loud talker. Everybody in the room heard the entire thing. I tried not to stare or laugh out loud. I feel sorry for her. I can’t even imagine how “letting nature take its course” is going to work for her.

I realize, after all the commotion, I’m really, really not feeling well. The Best Husband shows up to spend the rest of the treatment time with me. The Best Daughter leaves. I’m glad she wasn’t there to witness the two huge syringes of red medicine. Just thinking about them even now makes me nauseous. Marge, I believe, had flown the coop by then. Sometime during my last medicine bag, the lower half of my face goes numb. Oh goodie. The chemo is kicking my butt, and it’s not even over. I realize there’s no way I can drive home. The Best Husband drives me home and later comes back for my car with The Best Daughter. I spend the rest of the day in bed, hoping that when I wake up on Friday I will feel a little better. Friday is shot day. I am dreading it.

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