Monday, March 21, 2011
You're Invited To Come To Chemo Party Number Four
It was a party of three most of the time. And then others dropped in, left and came back intermittently. My dear childhood friend, Anne (Todd) Miller drove from Heber Springs to Harrison, two plus hours to help cheer me on last Friday. She was joined by my friend, Margie Keener, who has supported me throughout this entire ordeal. Well, that's not completely fair. Anne has supported me throughout this whole ordeal, too. It's just that she does not live here. Anne has always "been there" for me. Always. Since we were little girls. You've heard me mention her in previous blogs. Anne is very, very special to me. God Bless you, Anne! Not everyone is privy to see me completely bald. But hey, she was with me when I was 16 years old and toppled head-first off the hood of a car. She got to see the scar that would otherwise be covered with hair. She helped save my life that day.
Margie and Anne got to meet each other for the first time on Friday. They both settled into LazyBoys in the oncology clinic while I received the four IV bags of chemicals. Dwain's sister, Carolyn dropped by every so often to share in the story telling as did Dwain. Carolyn, also drove me to the clinic Friday morning. Good thing, too, because I'd taken two Benedryl before I left the house. I was trying to be pro-active this time because the last time I took chemo, the nausea almost overtook me.
It was enlightening and entertaining to listen to Margie and Anne tell stories of mysterious events that had occurred in their lives. You'd believe in angels too if you had heard the stories. And these people don't lie or tell tall tales (hey, look how I used those those three words in a sentence).
Margie, as usual, brought a small ice chest filled with all sorts of goodies. Seeing as how I got so nauseated the last time, decided not to eat anything stronger than a cracker. Margie brought Cheese-Its, my absolute favorite. She pointed out that they have soy in them. Everything I love to eat has soy. But I ate some anyway. That chemo better be killing the soy, was all I said. And I drank the ice cold bottled water she brought-- all the better to flush the toxins out as quickly as possible. Anne ate some Cheese-its, grapes, cheese sticks and some water. See? It really was a party. And nobody got sick this time.
Four and a half hours later, after an exhausted and yawning Anne dropped me safely home again, I decided to access the damage. Did I feel sick? No. Did I feel fatigued? A little, but nothing to write home about. What did I feel, then? I felt strange, that's how I felt. It's very hard to put my finger on a description that makes sense to anyone who has not ever experienced chemo. And as the hours wear on, this is sort of what happens: It's almost like you feel pinched all over. Like someone emptied your blood and refilled your vessels with ice water and chemicals; you can taste them. Your legs feel a little boingy, like rubber bands. The taste buds on your tongue get this chemical flavor that lasts for days -- well, it never goes completely away, really. Your whole body shakes and churns involuntarily. You feel like you've been spun and spun and spun -- dizzy. The rims of your eyes actually turn vampire red (or mine do); the whites feel dry and gritty every time you blink. Sometimes the lids even stick to the whites. Thank goodness for eye wash. Your legs, ankles and feet ache so bad. Then comes the horrible fatigue. Maybe it's a good thing to sleep. At least you don't feel anything when you sleep. And sleep I did. For hours and hours and hours.
Today I feel much better. No more ice water in the veins feeling. Nausea is under control. No dizziness. No more vampire eyes. No rubber band legs.
Here is the scary part. Usually on day 10, after chemo, you hit your lowest on the immunity scale. Your white blood count will be low, then it will come back up. Imagine my surprise when I went to take chemo number four and they tell me that my white blood count is dangerously low. What?! But I feel so good. How can that be? Are you sure? Nurse Priscella showed me my blood work from the day before. She wasn't sure that the doctor would even give me chemo. He did though. He said he was going to give me a lesser dose this time. He warned me to stay clear of crowds and the public in general until after day 10 (March 28th) to give my body and blood a chance to rebuild.
Have I mentioned how much I hate chemotherapy? Why can't I find a way to just be grateful? But I am not, and that's the truth (sticking out my tongue!)