Cancer. The shock of it all didn’t set in until this past Monday (22nd). That’s when I felt like I was going to fall apart, and it was hard to keep tears at bay. My oncologist asked me if I wanted to start chemo this week or next; I replied “now is best, because I’m at the point of running away and not coming back.” Doc thought I was joking, but I wasn’t. I really wanted to run. So, yesterday was my first chemo day. My schedule will at least be less hectic for a while, and I’m grateful for that one.
Before I talk about the chemo, I want to briefly address reactions to CANCER. There will be a fair amount of people who you thought would have at least given you a “oh, that sucks”, but instead, don’t acknowledge the CANCER or you, in any way at all. If you’re newly diagnosed, don’t be surprised by that. A lot of people simply will not acknowledge or address the issue. There are other unexpected reactions too. Yesterday, stopped by my pharmacy to pick up Dexamethasone, and one of my pharmacists started crying when she found out I had cancer. That made me crumple up inside, and I felt awful for making her feel awful. For the most part, supportive friends and family are right there for you, and you can get to know your fellow travelers in treatment, too.
Okay, chemo. In my hospital, the chemo suite is called The Infusion Center. Long room, more like a very large, central hall, lined with individual stations. Each station has a comfortable recliner, a chair side table, IV stand to one side, and an overhead, swivel mount television with earphones. There’s a stack of extra chairs for whoever you bring with you. You go in, sit down, sign a bunch of forms, and repeat your surname and birth date for the zillionth fucking time. I’m seriously contemplating giving my birthdate as Fall 1529. I don’t think medical would be amused. Every single person you talk to, “okay, give me your name and birth date”. I know they don’t want to make mistakes, but fuck me, I’m beyond tired of it. Being a smart-ass helps, which is why I went with a skull theme. It was mostly appreciated by med staff. ETA: my infusion center comes with a nurse who never shuts up. (I was seated across from the nurses station.) Headphones and your choice of at least 4 hours of music: a very good thing.
I got all the lectures about Oxaliplatin, in particular, the cold sensitivity and possibility of peripheral neuropathy. So far, I seem to have escaped those effects, but it’s early days yet. I have not come close to drinking as much fluid as I have been instructed to do, and I’m still pissing like an overhydrated horse. Which reminds me, forgot to get Kool-Aid. There’s only so much apple juice a person can take.
After chemo, I was feeling starved, so we ate, then we had to do a bit of shopping. I was feeling okay enough to do that, but having that giant capsule swinging about was a right pain in the arse. I was a bit antsy because I had not remembered to take my immodium with me, and while I didn’t really have that “ohgodsfuck diarrhea” sensation, I did have a weird one, which could be best described as the tumour playing at being Jack Nicholson axing his way through the door in The Shining. Just a vague sort of terror that the tumour might do something utterly mortifying while in public. So, remember to pack all the little stuff if you’re going to be out and about after chemo.
Going home, I could not keep my eyes open. I stumbled into the house, managed to shed clothes, and fall on the bed, got the giant capsule tucked under the pillow, and was out like a light for several hours. Woke up, ate too many fudge brownies, went back to bed, read Book of the Night by Oliver Pötzsch, a wonderfully fun book, went back to sleep. Biggest effects so far: crampy, tired, acid reflux and really sore leg muscles for some reason. That set in rather early in the infusion center. Other than that, okay. I’ll be right happy to get rid of this damn capsule on Friday, seriously bad design flourishes in the medical industry. Initially, they wanted me back on Friday to have the pump removed, but when we told them that was not convenient, I got instructions to do it all myself.
Still have the nasty butt pain, and can’t go unmedicated for very long, which is on the annoying side, but I’ll live. Hahaha. I feel another nap coming on…
ETA: Food. Stock up on frozen foods, and easy to prepare stuff, like cottage cheese with fruit or veg. Have things like chicken salad prepared, and bread in the house. If someone loves you to pieces and can cook, have them do up some casseroles for you. The easier it is to eat, the more likely it is you’ll actually do that. You’re much more likely to decide eating is not so important if you wander into the kitchen, and decide you really don’t want to be cooking. Also, stock up on all the ‘bad for ya’ stuff: ice cream, brownies, muffins, cup cakes, banana bread, what have you. If you have colon cancer, by the time you get to radiation, they’ll tell you to do a low fiber diet, which is basically all the stuff which is typically considered bad: white breads, pancakes, pasta, butter, cream, cheese, and so on. Having plenty of goodies around is a way to easily pig out when you’re feeling like it.