I woke up feeling a bit yucky. I don’t really know why. My stomach was a little out of sorts and I just didn’t feel that surge of energy, that “let’s kick this thing” attitude that I felt for the previous two treatments. It could be that I am already getting sick of this mess. It could be that it is just another chore that I have to do but really don’t want to do. Or it could be that I just was having an off day. Regardless, I woke up feeling yucky.
So, I did what I do best, I dressed myself. I have discovered that completely weird and mismatched outfits make all things better. Remember what it was like to have the freedom to dress yourself for the first time as a kid? You chose the most obnoxious clothes that simply did not go together just because they were your favorites. And you didn’t give one care what the world thought. I have always been a bit eccentric, but Chemo is my time to play childhood dress-up all over again. Because as soon as I walk into that Day Care facility, it is quite clear why I am there. On went the psychedelic tights, the peace-sign fuzzy socks, the I heart Tennessee T-shirt courtesy of some of my former students and a flower-print red head scarf.
Valeria, a math teacher at my school, offered to be the accompanier this time. Now Valeria is always dressed for an occasion. It is one of the reasons I love her. Big platform sandals, flowy flower-print pants, Valeria is my soul sister of outfits. (Ok, maybe minus the shoes, since I kind of detest wearing any kind.) She picked Mom and I up at the door and off we headed to the hospital.
By now Day Care and I are down to a routine. They put me in either box five or six, depending on which arm gets the needle this time. I hoist myself onto the bed, get all of my items of entertainment in place, and hold out my hand for the hot water bottle.
I can fight cancer, I can get tattoos, I can endure second degree burns all over my legs, but I one hundred percent to my core HATE IVs. I hate the feeling of them. I hate the idea of them. But, I hate the idea of a surgery for a port more right now, so IV it is. Only, as Mom pointed out, we don’t want to use the same veins if possible. So the poor nurse tried to stick the vein near my thumb. However, the stick wasn’t viable. So on she moved to my wrist. By this point, Valeria was by my head, rubbing my shoulders, and leading me through deep breathing exercises. I should also mention that Valeria is our in-house mindfulness and yoga teacher at school. I will admit that the deep breathing helped and the IV was good to go. (But I still hate them.)
And the routine begins…Happy pill under the tongue, nausea drip, red pee pee chemo, 10 minute drip chemo, one minute syringe chemo, and then that little bastard. The Tin Foil Devil. Last time we learned why it is wrapped in tin foil. The asshole is sensitive to light. You know what else is sensitive to light? Naked Mole Rats, Badgers, and Vampires. Oh, and the little turd Phil, the groundhog, who runs away from his own shadow when the light hits him. As soon as the Tin Foil Devil (TFD) was turned on, my skin started to prickle. I instantly could tell that the third time was going to be similar to the first. Apparently, TFD doesn’t like my left arm. My nurse thinks it is because it is my non-dominant hand, so the veins are not as strong. Just under half way the cold whooshed over me. It is how I imagine Harry felt when the dementors came onto the grounds of Hogwarts. I hit that nurse button before I even told Mom and Valeria what was happening because the shivers were already starting to hit hard. There is something very strange about not being able to control your own body. I was shivering like I had just emerged from the icy depths of the antarctic, yet I felt kind of warm. I didn’t have a fever, my blood pressure was fine, my heart rate was normal. I was just shivering. So, they stopped the treatment and shot me up with anti-allergy meds. Less than thirty minutes later, we were back on track.
We talked most of the time. It was a nice change because I really didn’t feel like doing anything until the very end. And Mom and I both appreciated the company. We learn new things about Uruguay and about the people I work with. I think everyone should be stuck in a room with a co-worker/friend for five hours. You gain a whole new perspective beyond the walls of work. Plus I am beyond appreciative of the amount of love and support from these incredible women who have taken time to just sit with me. The final hour I just needed to do something. So I did a quick Sudoku and then Mom surprised me with sticker paper dolls. Oh, man! So much fun.
Beep beep beep. The IV was finished. Just ten more minutes of washing the vein with saline and one more anti-nausea. Then it was off to the car and home.
One more chemo down. As the math teacher pointed out, I am 1/4 of the way done. Fractions are important. I am eternally grateful to Valeria for picking us up and coming with us. For the deep breathing and the conversation. It takes a village. And my village is filled with incredible love and care.