Just a quick word here, stealing 5 minutes of internet time…
So, I made it through chemo, and the staff made it through doing what they needed to do, not giving into my pitiful state — holding my lip steady but with tears running down my face. I felt I should be embarrassed about it, but I really didn’t care. Once there was no more need to actively discuss what was happening with the staff, I was calm.
After it was over, I had a headache. The ice cream I ate seemed to stave off mouth sores and discomfort. Otherwise, I felt…weird. But not necessarily sick. I felt fragile. I wasn’t nauseous, but there was a feeling in my insides that told me the feeling was bubbling somewhere underneath, in the same way that local anesthesia doesn’t stop you from feeling peripheral pain. Some dear Belgian friends picked us up and drove us home. I remember them joking, as we rattled over cobblestone streets, that the vibrations were good for me. I smiled and sat as still as possible.
The next day Del and I were scheduled to take the Eurostar train to England, where I would meet his parents for the very first time. Dad had said to me over and over, “you’re one brave lady, meeting his folks for the first time 24 hours after your first chemo.” I wasn’t thrilled about it, but you do what ya gotta do. The doctor had said it was possible and there was no way of knowing how I would be to travel until the day came.
Once home I went straight to bed. Oh, have I mentioned that throwing up is the part of having cancer that I dreaded the worst?! Seems silly but it’s true. I HATE to throw up. I will do anything to avoid it. I know it’s foolish, but be it from drink or flu, I will lie around feeling awful for days rather than just throw up once and get it over with. So, when I was able to sleep for about 90 minutes, we had some hope that I wasn’t going to get sick at all. Then, around what would have been 2 hours exactly after the end of my drip, it all started. You don’t need every detail, but I woke up suddenly and bolted to the bathtub.
Our apartment is very European in that the shower and sink are in a separate room from the toilet. The toilet is on the other side of the apartment. Small though it is, I just wasn’t going to make it. This turned out just fine because I found that I definitely prefer hanging my head into the bathtub than the toilet. It seems so much more elegant (ha!). Besides, I had immediately developed a super strong (or, perhaps, distorted) sense of smell and I swore that our toilet room smelled like chemicals. I couldn’t bear to be in there.
All night long, up and down up and down to be sick. By the end of the night there was nothing but bile, coming from the intestine. I’ve never felt so awful in my entire life. If I hadn’t known better I would have been sure that the next thing to come up the esophagus and out my mouth would be my liver and spleen. It felt like I was doing actual damage in there.
We tried all my nausea medicines. I had one, “in case” I got sick. Then I had a second type of pill in case that one didn’t work. And I had a third type of pill, in case those didn’t work. Of course, it doesn’t matter what it is if you can’t keep it down. Never before had I envied people who had drugs for the other end. All in all I suffered 14 fits of vomiting by the time the final heave came at 2am. After that I slept blissfully.
The morning seemed beautiful. The sun was shining. I had made it! I was so grateful. I felt weak and still fragile, but my stomach wasn’t trying to leap out of my mouth, so I was happy. Now all I had to do was get to England…