As research for this month’s blogs, I’ve been reading my CaringBridge journal. I roll my eyes and question, what the heck was my litmus test regarding what to share? The abundant grammatical and spelling errors are embarrassing, and the way I went on about losing my hair, about everything. Gosh.
I will say I was open and honest about my emotions: fear, anger, and overwhelm; the surrealness of the experience, all documented. And, I was prone to temper fits, of which I shared plenty.
My support network was incredible, and I knew I was fortunate. I was grateful, and it was important to me to thank each person publicly, and even though sorting back through recordings of all manner of surprises brings me great joy, it almost sounds braggy. Makes me feel uncomfortable.
As I shared each test result, treatment, and surgery–including my physical and emotional response–it’s like I felt obligated to add humor and lightness. I wonder a little about that. Was that for me or for my readers?
I continue to read and sort through my months of daily entries. Sometimes I tear up and sometimes I squirm a little, but always I’m grateful it’s recorded. I’ve selected a few, slightly edited, entries to share with you this week:
First Chemo Treatment, October 8, 2008
I sat in a nice, big comfy lounge chair and Jessica, who had flown in from NY to be with me, sat nearby. They hooked a tube to my port and started the IV’s. The nurse left the room, and we began entertaining ourselves. I wrote a few thank-you notes, and we plugged in Sweet Home Alabama and flipped through magazines and chatted some. I said to Jess, “Isn’t it weird that we are here?”
The big challenge was carting the IV pole to the restroom 7 times. They were encouraging me to drink and pumping all of these fluids into my body, and well . . . we made several trips. The guy in the next room seemed to always beat me there and he was evidently having another problem. He tried to mask it with bathroom spray, but that just made it worse. Have you ever tried to pee with an IV hanging from your arm while hiding your nose in your sleeve and your daughter is standing off in the corner with her nose buried in her sleeve giggling like a junior high girl?
This whole experience is still just out there, hard to grasp. I feel like doctors are pouring foreign chemicals into my body at an alarming rate. I don’t even like to eat pre-packaged food because of the extra chemicals.
October 12, 2008
If you’ve come for anything inspiring today, exit now. I’m in a pissy mood, my body hurts, and Jessica just left. I had a meltdown last night. I suck at being sick. I want to do what I do. I like my life the way it was, and I want it back. I hate taking pain pills and the way they make me feel, but my body aches and I have no choice.
Last night, I had the headache from hell. I feel somewhat better this morning, but I didn’t get to ride to the airport with Jess. I cried when she left, and I was determined not to do that! I did. Probably freaked her out. I feel like shit, and I’m pissed about this whole thing. I want to be done!
October 13, 2008
Slept most of the day and evening. Nauseous all day and night. I’d hoped to awaken a new woman. Not so much. I don’t know whether to push myself to get up and go and do, crawl back under the covers. So far, my big accomplishments of the day are having a cup of tea on the front porch and a shower.
October 14, 2008
I’m setting up camp on my big, comfy couch in the basement. I’m surrounding myself with all of the wonderful books and magazines you’ve all sent me, watching morning TV, and pretending I have the flu. I’m just gonna have a sick day.
October 15, 2008
I’m back! I have re-joined the human race. I know I’m supposed to be kicking cancer’s ass, but Chemo #1 kicked mine. Picture a full-blown hangover, morning sickness, PMS, and the flu. That was me. I was so disappointed in myself.
‘Nuff of that. Last night I pulled out of it and . . .
October 21, 2008, Shopping for a Compression Sleeve
The place was a boutique on the 2nd floor of a big medical building. It was a beautiful, little shop well stocked with wigs, hats, pj’s, jewelry, mugs, all kinds of cancer-themed stuff. I thought I might treat myself to a hat or something. Maybe even another wig. But then I was greeted by Miss Twenty-Something Bitchy Pants. I gave her the RX for my Compression sleeve and explained I needed it for a flight the next day. Cooly, she schooled me stating she’d have to measure my arm and we’d just have to see. It would likely have to be special ordered.
Bitchy Pants had evidently missed the “Be nice to people with cancer” memo.
In my mind: I grabbed a fistful of her starched, white button down and pulled her in until we were nose to nose and said, “Listen here honey, my hair’s falling out, I have cancer cells dividing in my body, it took me an hour to find this place, and you’d better get back there and do your job, and find something that will work, or I’m gonna kick your skinny ass!”
What I really said: I’m leaving on a trip tomorrow and I’ll be flying. We need to find something that will work.
October 23, 2008, Grand Canyon
Standing at the front desk of the El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon National Park, I said, “Our room is unacceptable. I didn’t come all the way to the Grand Canyon for a view of the fu**ing parking lot.” I seethed as I pulled off my beanie exposing my bald head and explained I was between Chemotherapy treatments and who knew if I’d ever get to come back here and demanded a room with a view.
After a forty-five-minute wait and a major rerun of a credit card, BF, Roy, Becky, and I were sipping tea on the spacious balcony of the Presidential Suite as the sun set over this vast canyon.
October 31, 2008
I had a mini-melt down last night. Overwhelming nausea took over my body and my emotions kicked in big time. So badly, I didn’t want to become sick this round, that I’d convinced myself it wasn’t going to happen, and when it did, I melted.
And so, it went. With each treatment, by the third week and time to go back for the next, I felt great. I was just sure I’d somehow get it right that time and be able to continue daily walks and a somewhat normal life. But I’d wind up in bed, fearful I would never again have energy.
When someone didn’t give me what I wanted, I threw a fit and pulled the cancer card.
I tried to be funny. I relished the attention from my family and friends. I trusted my doctors and believed I would not die. But I was scared.
So strange to think back on this time! Very grateful for you…and that you have more chances to see the Grand Canyon, fit or no!