Now I am not going to lie to you — chemo scared the pants off of me. I wasn’t very brave about that bit at all (and I’m not ashamed about it!). I got a litte weepy when I went to bed, so I took a sleeping pill to assure that I’d get some rest.
The day of chemo, I also had to get my Port-A-Cath put in. PACs are common practice here in Belgium as it spares the patient’s arm veins. Generally during my treatment I was not very detailed in sharing with people, but I wrote a brutally honest mail to my family on chemo day #1, which I can share in hindsight and which I think says it all…the only thing I didn’t share is that for the first time I really wished my mom were around.
4Aug06 (fri. after noon. Leuven hospital.)
hi family. so i’m now at chemo 1. thought you all might appreciate being here in a mail, even if you’re not here in person. i have to be honest, i did wish for all of you today once i was here. but i have del. i’m glad i had someone form this group for the first time. it is a bit difficult today.so first was the insertion of the Port-A-Cath (PAC). ummm, that was the worst. of course there’s the fact that it’s quite a psychological reminder of what was coming in the immediate future, it just freaked me out a bit. i wasn’t prepared to feel the surgery. it was under local anesthesia. i thought i’d sit in a chair and they’d cut an inch or two and slip it in and del would be there. but it was a real operating room. on a table, they covered me head to toe with sterile blankets like real surgery and taped them on my skin so only the few inches of skin they were working on showed. they were very nice and empathetic the whole time, with a nurse watching my face to see if i was ok and asking me every once in a while if i was ok. because i was supposed to tell them if i had pain more than a little.so. i was awake. and i could even feel when they made the incision. i told him that and he said it’s normal, as long as it doesn’t hurt too much. then…just ugh. he’d tug on the vein he was inserting the tube into and he’d tell me “oh that’s just a vein. it’s going into your heart. you’re going to feel it but it’s normal” …thanks. but it still FREAKY!! feeing the vein being tugged on quite firmly (and ‘m thinking ‘CAREFUL! you’ll break it!!’), from my shoulder down my arm (a bit) and just, yeah. 30 minutes of me knowing exactly what they were doing. (“ok. i’m just going to make the pocket for the PAC here under your skin.” swipe/tug under the skin, swipe. swipe….if i could shiver in words i would.) i did NOT like that at all. and as a matter of fact i got out of the O.R., told del i wanted to get out of there, and promptly burst into tears just outside the door. now my OTHER arm is out of commission as far as lifting and pulling and showering for 2 more weeks. GRRRR! I was shaking on the OR table. And really after. I was shaking quite a bit for a while, that upset thing I do, and probably still am a bit….i got it together and came here. they, nice as always, gave me a little consult where they explain everyhting step by step. (i blubbered through half of that too, but i’m ok now) i get a bed today since it’s my first time (you get a comfy chair usually otherwise unless you’re just lucky). then they start.so now i’m in bed. del’s reading Catcher in the Rye beside me. they gave me lunch and nausea pills to take for later at home. i have a 5 footed IV that i can roll around (jen. like the guy with beer and chips that you saw wandering the hallway). but i feel some strange safety here on the bed so i’m going no further than the bathroom today i think. they hang all 3 medicines on it, ready to go, plus saline. they inject first some neausea med’s into the IV. i get saline for 20 minutes. then i ring the bell. in that time the awesome head doctor (Dr. Neven) came by and was his usual lovely self, just checking on me. came back and gave del a kind squeeze on the shoulder from behind when he walked out after checking on his other patients a few minutes later.once i ring the nurse comes and starts med. #1… 30 minutes of that. then i ring again. 10 min of saline again. then i ring. then 45 minutes of the big red medicine. it’s strange to see the red creep up the tubes and into me. but i don’t feel anything so far, so that’s quite nice. they say i will pee/cry red for a few days. (it makes me want to cry again just for fun as i will look like a vampire! –they cry blood in case your evil entity folklore isn’t up to snuff…). then 10 min of saline again. i ring. this is where i am now. the nurse is just opening the last medicine drip, 15 minutes of #3.we’ll be finished a little early today it looks like. other weeks it will take an extra hour so they can test my blood stats first. PJ is on call to drive us home. and that’s that. i should have my hair for 2-3 weeks they say, so i won’t go all baby head at del’s parents house, which is nice. (we leave tomorrow for a week to birmingham by train. his parents are sending a car from there to pick us up in london so we don’t have to take the metro to another train. nice…) so. i’d say the toughest day so far, but the worst bit is over i think. and really, that wasn’t so bad. so far so good.i’ll write more form england and probably talk to some of you tonight.
(rae, forward this to kelly and co. if you think they’d want it. i’m not sure if it’d be nice or a bad reminder/too much reality. thank you.)love you lots.