I am amazed. It’s two days after my second chemotherapy treatment. This one was supposed to be worse. I was afraid. Scared enough that Sunday I began kicking overstuffed pillow shams as hard as I could. I needed to kick something, and I didn’t think it would be a good idea to kick Jim, my parents, or the cat. I kicked that overstuffed pillow sham with all my might. It felt good. It was a release. And it hurt no one, not even me, or the pillow, or the wall where it landed.
It didn’t stop the fear, but it directed the anger. Sometimes you just have to cry. Sometimes you just have to be angry.
This time I ate oatmeal before going in for chemo instead of wheat crackers and canned cheese. I drank as much water as I could force down my gullet. I brought another 32oz with me, plus one of my Mom’s epic sandwiches and some sugar-free hard candies.
The day was frustrating. The cancer center installed a new software system that went live and my room was front and center to the chaos. My treatment center has individual rooms, each with a window looking outside, and a curtain offering optional privacy from the nurses’ station. I elected to keep mine open. I’m naturally curious, and I knew there’d be a lot of coming and going in the first hour as they took my blood and then began the pre-meds.
That first hour lasted four. The software switch threw everything for a loop. Six, seven nurses and administrators congregated at the counter across from my room as they tried to figure out why orders weren’t being released, and discovering that doctors had to be in the hospital to sign for their release, and all sorts of other issues. I kept hearing my name. “What about Goodrich? Theresa? Have her labs been sent?” I’m glad the curtain was open, because hearing without seeing would have caused even more panic. It’s the inverse of turning down the radio so you can back up out of the driveway.
I cried. Sobbed. A nurse came to see if I was OK. “No,” I moaned. “I just want this to be over.” I’d already been there three hours and my labs weren’t back, and they can’t start doing anything until they know what’s going on in my body. “I just want to know what’s happening. Nobody’s talking to me and I keep hearing my name.”
They apologized, profusely. I told them I know it’s frustrating for them, and I’m not their only patient. This is life and death. As this was happening, occasionally an emergency code would be broadcast and I’d swallow my own fears and feel grateful.
My fears stemmed from my previous reaction. Would it be that bad again? Would I have chemo brain, that fog that hid words and cohesive thoughts? Would I be able to move? Would I need another hydration treatment? This was supposed to be worse. What did that even mean?
Seven hours later Jim drove me home. Mom made her spaghetti and Dad made garlic bread and I ate more than I thought I could and less than I wanted. I did not eat mini-corn dogs. I drank water. So much water. I drank a full pitcher overnight. I went to the bathroom, a lot. My pee was pink before dinner and clear by the time I went to bed. (Adriamycin, a.k.a. Red Devil, makes your pee red, and it’s a good thing to get that flushed out of your system.) I had bowel movements. The steroids and anti-nausea meds cause constipation, and you do not want any of those drugs sitting in your body. So, all of that evacuation was a good sign.
A better sign than I’d thought. Lunch yesterday was turkey soup, and it was the best turkey soup I’ve ever had. I was shocked I could eat at all. After the first treatment, I stayed in bed and forced a few saltines. This time I was upright and spooning vegetables, poultry, and bone broth into my gullet. I drank more water.
I went in for my injection and Nurse Dan asked how I was doing. “Really well!”
“Really?” He looked at me, surprised.
“Yes! I’ve eaten, been to the bathroom, slept, no nausea. I feel pretty good.”
“That’s fantastic!” He seemed genuinely surprised that I was doing so well. I know I was. I was supposed to be doing worse.
He settled me in and checked my blood pressure. For the first time during these visits, it was in the normal range. He gave me my injection. It burned a bit, but I took some ibuprofen and I had no more pain.
Last night we ordered wings. They’re a treat for Dad because Mom can’t eat them, and they’ve become somewhat of a post-hospital ritual for me. I craved them after both surgeries, for some inexplicable reason. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to eat them last night, but my body’s been reacting when something doesn’t sound like it’ll work, and my body told me to EAT THE WINGS.
I did. Sweet Thai Chili (favorite), Bourbon BBQ, and Teriyaki. And fried pickles and onion rings and parmesan fries. Boy, did they hit the spot.
The day after my second chemotherapy I ate wings. Who woulda thought?
We watched another episode of The Repair Shop and I fell asleep on the couch by eight-thirty. In bed by ten and up every two hours to go to the bathroom. I religiously took my meds and noted them in my journal.
This morning I woke up feeling great. Energetic. Ready to finalize the e-book download I’m giving away with my presentation at Discover America tonight. Ready to figure out how I’m going to dress my head during the live Q&A. Ready to bake some more treats.
Ready. Ready to be. Ready to live. Ready to grab another day and make the absolute most out of it.
I’ll get scared again. Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. If I do, I’ll kick some pillow shams, drink some water, and remember that my body is amazing and no matter what, I’m going to get through this. With all of the love and support that surrounds me, how could I not?