My mom and Me during my infusion
I tossed and turned in my sleep. I cried….dreading what was going to happen to me. I took the prescribed steroids and I felt like I was on speed, everything was racing. Feeling like a baby who wet the bed, I sweated through my pajamas and the sheets. Is this what steroids are supposed to do?….no one talks about this when they talk about cancer treatment. I change out of my wet pj’s and try to sleep thinking of the imminent poison that is about to be put into my veins. Laying there in the dead of night I start praying to God and ask him to calm me, soothe me, comfort me….and finally my eyes shut. It seems as if an hour had passed and the alarms begin ringing, the house is bustling with everyone getting ready to go to school. I say goodbye to my babies and reassure them that I am going to be ok and will see them very soon. Once everyone leaves, I embark on the task of getting dressed for my infusion. What does one wear to a chemotherapy? I grapple with my wardrobe for a moment and turn on fun party music. As I am singing along to Lady Gaga I decide to go with the fashionable yet practical ” loose and comfortable look with a splash of pink”. On my wrists hung my breast cancer bracelet and my bracelet with my kids names on them, from my ears my 80’s pink earrings. I was determined to walk in to the hospital with my head held high and a fearless attitude. When Travis came home I told him “Let’s get this party started”. Thus, the party began, we left the house armed with our bags filled with endless hours of entertainment; computers, cards, magazines, books, snacks, beverages. We were prepared for anything and everything.
I am not certain if I was more anxious about how the chemotherapy was going to feel when it flowed into me OR what everyone else in the infusion clinic would look like. I continued to want to live in my fantasy world of cancer. I didn’t want to face the reality of seeing cancer patients who looked as if they were knocking on death’s door. My anxieties were lessened when I was greeted by my chemotherapy nurse Char. She shared with us that we would have a private room since it was my first infusion. Yes! I could continue to live in my fantasy world of cancer a little longer! What is even better is I know Char, I have known her for years. My fears diminished tremendously. Char begins to tell us how the day is going to run and what we should expect. She explains that she does not want us to be alarmed when she is wearing a plastic mask and gloves when handling the chemotherapy bags. She says that she must do this to protect her from the drugs toxicity, since she is exposed to them everyday. Ok, wait a second!?! My nurse is going to wear a Hazmat suit to touch the BAG my chemotherapy drugs are in…..the same drugs they are going to intravenously pour into my body……..should this comfort me or make me think that I have lost my mind agreeing to this? Thanks to the steroids and the tazmanian devil levels of energy it gives me, my mind quickly shifts to another thought……Squirrel!
Travis and I at my 1st Chemo Infusion
As you can see in the above picture we had a pretty cozy set up. My own bed, complete privacy, a nice little lamp….it was like the Taj Mahal of chemo infusions. It was time to begin. They needed to put the needle (which looked more like a fishing
hook) into my port. My port is on the inside of my right arm. Char asked if I had put the numbing cream on my skin, I bravely told her that I didn’t think I would need it. Shots, and pricks in the arm are not a big deal to me….well let me tell you when Char drove the “fish hook” into my port I thought I was going to scream….no wait I did scream. It was the most torturous part of the entire day. For some reason I had this illusion that the port was supposed to me my safety tunnel into my veins, the safe passage way, like the gumdrop pass in Candy Land. NO! It was like the Go To Jail card. After the initial shock and pain of the insertion, they began a saline drip on me, followed by a anti-nausea drug, followed by another anti-nausea drug (I think they don’t want me to have nausea). Then the party was truly about to start. They first began with the chemotherapy drug Taxol. With her hazmat suit on Char hung the Taxol bag on the hook. I waited to feel something, anything..but I didn’t.
As the Taxol was coursing through my body along with the other drugs that were put in me I had many visitors in my room; my mom, my dear friend Kevin, my nurse angel Karen, the hospital deacon, my dad. I may have picked up a tinge of annoyance from Char of the constant party like atmosphere in my room. All we needed was a strobe light and some bass.
Chemotherapy Infusion Party
The next drug invited to the party was Carboplatin. Char hung the bag of Carboplatin up on the hook. Drip, drip went the drug and again I waited to feel something…..nothing yet. Continuous monitoring took place. Everything was on course. The party was really going to start with the liquid benadryl they were going to give me. The purpose of that was to combat any potential allergic reaction that I could have to Herceptin which would be the final drug of the TCH cocktail. As I was biting into my salad lunch I was hit with a tsunami wave of exhaustion. I couldn’t end the party by sleeping so I continued to attempt conversation while sounding like a sloppy drunk. Travis and my mom broke out in laughter as they tried to piece together the garbly gook that was dripping out of my mouth. Char entered the room with the final cocktail mix; Herceptin. She reminded me that they would keep a close eye on me to ensure that I didn’t have an allergic reaction and if I were to have one it would be immediate. She hung the bag and I waited in breathless anticipation to breakout in a rash of purple dots but alas I sailed smoothly through the choppy waters of the Herceptin test. As the time continued to tick away I realized we had spent over 6 hours in the infusion lab and not once dove into our bag of party goods. We had been kept so busy with teachings, monitoring and visitors that the party bag collected dust. My first chemotherapy infusion was drawing to a close. Other then being drunk on benadryl, I felt no different. As we walked to the car I felt the wind rustle through my hair and I became melancholy knowing that in hours it would be gone. One major step today and another big one tomorrow. One step at a time…