Dear Hodgkin’s Lymphoma patients,
Do yourself a huge favor…GET A PORT FROM THE BEGINNING. I know surgeries are scary, and if you are like me, going under is worse than the thought of being stuck with a needle over and over again. DO NOT BE STUPID. Get the freaking port! It will save you months of pain and reactions and extra time in chemo land that are all simply not necessary. Take it from someone who did half of the treatments with a port and half without. A PORT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE! And it is kind of interesting having a plastic soda cap under your skin. Makes you feel a bit bionic. So, get your port first thing and take pleasure in comfortable chemo.
Sincerely, A Port Fan
Chemo number seven was the easiest chemo I have had this entire time. It was painless, chill, and wildly entertaining. This is the one chemo that Mom had to miss. We were both a little apprehensive. But I had the next best thing going with me, a best friend. Katie has been my British Hospital buddy all along. From burns to cancer she has been there. This amazing woman has seen me in all kinds of my vulnerable states. It was only fitting that my “mom sub” be Katie.
She met me at the house and we Ubered to the hospital. The nurses greeted us with the usual besos. Maria Rosa spouted her fast Spanish that Katie and I both understood about 45% of. My favorite nurse, Fio, was working. And the nurse intern who was learning from Maria Rosa was so nice and spoke perfect English. She told us all about her Ed Sheeran concert experience. It was a lovely start to number seven.
Side Story: the new nurse asked me if I liked mate. Of course I do and I tried to tell her which brand I prefer. I can never remember the name properly. I said, “It is something like cana….canabis.” Cannabis?! Maria Rosa and the nurse started laughing and told me that I liked something a little different from mate. “Does doctor Muxi know you like this?” Maria Rosa asked me. What I was trying to say was the brand “Canarias.” Let’s just say I will probably never live that one down.
My port site was thoroughly cleaned and my head was pushed over to the left. Once the site has a needle, they don’t want me breathing on it because it goes directly to my heart. They take extra precaution to keep the port site free of germs, including gowning and masking up every time they come in to work with the port. I was only a little freaked about the needle going in because it was my first time. Last time, the needle was already inserted after my surgery. Maria Rosa told me to take a huge breath. I did and PING, needle was in and absolutely ZERO pain. WHAT THE HELL! You mean to tell me I have tortured myself for five whole rounds when this was what my life could have been the entire time?! I kicked myself for that one. So again cancer people…get a freaking port!
I was loopy as soon as the initial anti-nausea and anti-anxiety drugs hit my IV. Having everything go directly to the big vein makes all of the symptoms escalate. My head started to get fuzzy. Katie and I gossiped the best I could while the chemo drugs were being prepared. I told her about dinner with Nico’s parents and she told me about her emails from Colombia. Then we both laughed about things from the birthday weekend. Maria Rosa came in to administer the Red Devil. As she did that, Katie made me the cutest drawing. It is totally getting hung up somewhere.
Then the next two drugs were quick as well. They take 11 minutes total. And finally the tin foil. It was all going so quickly that I didn’t even have time to really get sleepy. Which was good because there was some wild entertainment. Katie put on a puppet show for me. And we made loop-band bracelets. Lunch came and went. A yummy chicken sandwich this time. And then the tin foil was finished. It was only three and a half hours in daycare! I couldn’t believe it! Again, easiest chemo ever!
Katie and I Ubered back to my place, brought out the mattress from the guest room, put on Disney movies and took long long naps. Then we ordered some yummy Indian, watched some more movies and went to bed. It was a lovely day, considering. And I am so appreciative that Katie was there. If there is one thing I have learned from this whole process, it is that you should never go it alone. You need people to play puppets, and draw pictures, and help you feel like a human instead of a walking disease pumped with poison. I am so grateful for my people, especially Katie, my British Hospital buddy.