After sitting for hours with my body hooked up to tubes and poison going through my body, hours and days had passed as I waited to FEEL something. The anticipation was odd. So much of the anxiety with cancer is the not knowing. The not knowing when I was going to feel terrible. Saturday and Sunday passed with nothing eventful. I actually felt the same. Monday I went to get my Neulasta shot. Neulasta is a shot I get every Monday after my infusion. Neulasta is used to help make white cells so that your body fights infections during cancer treatment. The shot itself didn’t hurt. They didn’t access my port, just a simple jab in the arm.
Chemodrugz. (Photo credit: Drew Olanoff)
By Monday evening it hit me. My bones ached as if someone was hitting them with a hammer. When Tuesday morning came I didn’t want to get out of my cozy soft bed…..and I didn’t. There I lay sleeping for hours until it was time for Travis to drive me to acupuncture. I told Jingfei of my immense pain in my bones; she expertly placed her needles all over my body. Magically those needles sucked some pain away from my bones and I walked out of her office feeling much better then I had.
The next chemo side effect was my mouth. My teeth felt as if I had braces on them that were tightened with a vice grip. The inside of my mouth felt like raw meat. I couldn’t eat. I could barely move. I felt nausea. I felt like shit. Plain and simple, it was awful. My sleep was fitful at best; the worst pain was in my feet and shins. The pain drove me to tears and loud exclamations of profanity. The chemo was working its black magic on me. How would I endure 5 more times of this?
Breast Cancer (Photo credit: bloomingdalelibrary)
I am sitting in a tiny room surrounded by books, pamphlets and magazines about Cancer. A Cancer Library. Since my surgery, I have often almost forgotten that I have cancer. I look the same, feel the same…..but now it’s time to buckle up and get ready for the Chemotherapy ride. The nurse sits with me and goes over every chemotherapy drug they are going to give me. My chemotheraphy cocktail is TCH. Taxol, Carboplatin and Herceptin. She gives me thick paper copies of each drug and goes over the side effects of each one. Exhaustion, nausea, hair-loss, neurapathy, mouth-sores, cardio-toxicity, menopause…..the list was endless. With a smile she asks me if I have any questions. Do I have any questions? In my mind, I wanted to ask her am I nuts? I feel great and I am going to sign a paper to make me feel like that? But we weren’t done. She then tells me about Neulasta. Neulasta is a shot that is given a couple days after the chemotherapy infusion to increase white blood cell production. This ALSO has some side effects; bone pain, joint pain, mouth sores, GI sensitivities etc… I signed my signature on papers to agree to all of these fabulous ways I was going to feel. Now it was time to get my blood drawn. There is a special lab devoted just to cancer patients. I received a special stamp card that basically signified I would be a frequent visitor. Like, a frequent flyer card but not nearly as fun. I took my place in the chair. The techs knew I was a new girl. I still had my hair……, my skin wasn’t yellow….. They asked me questions, took my blood and told me how much they looked forward to seeing me again. Again? Right, again. With my green stamp card I would be visiting my new friends in the lab quite often.
Chemo 101 day was not yet over. Now it was time to get an ECHO. The echo cardiogram was necessary so that they could have a baseline for my heart function. Since there are so many cardiac side effects with the chemotherapy it is required. There again I sat in another waiting room, 30 years younger then the average age of my fellow patient. It was a painless procedure really. A little gel, ultrasound and pictures, done. If there was a competition for who had the healthiest heart out of all of the people in the waiting room I am certain I would have won.
The day would not be complete until I went and had lunch with my dear friend Michelle followed by some more wig shopping. This time we went to Fantasy Attic, a treasured Halloween store. These wigs were not nearly as nice as “la fancy” wig but they were also only $30. After trying on many I decided to splurge on another wig. A long, red haired wig, otherwise known as “Ginger”. Now Ginger wasn’t nearly as well made as la fancy wig but I still thought it would be fun to wear. My wig buying addiction was just beginning. I decided then, while I have no hair I am going to make the best of it. It will be Halloween until my hair grows back.