In general, chemo was a quickly established routine at least as far as certain things were concerned. I would get a headache during the last drug’s drip. I would go home and get ill almost exactly 2.5 hours after my drip. I arranged my chemo for the afternoon, so that by the time I was finished the evening was upon us. I would come home, change immediately into my pyjamas and crawl into bed, hoping to sleep through the worst of the sensations.
For chemo #2, two Brussels friends volunteered to come with me. This was an unexpected and touching gesture, especially as one if them was a guy. Chemo is just one of those experiences that I assume most people would not be eager to watch. It’s uncomfortable and highly personal. Call me sexist but it just seemed like the kind of thing that many friends – particularly guys – would rather opt out on. But I was proven wrong when both Dan and Pia voluntarily took off work and sat by my side for the long hours.
As usual, my hospital would surprise me with thoughtfulness. Usually one only gets a bed the first time, (a reclining chair the times after). However, my head nurse had taken note of me the first time and reserved me a bed again in advance. “You were quite upset last time, so I just wanted to make sure you are as comfortable as possible. I’m sure you’ll be a pro now, but still….” I wanted to throw my arms around her for her thoughtfulness.
To get to the good part: we chatted all through chemo and this time, indeed, it was much less traumatic. No tears, all casual. Del also surprised me by getting off of work early and showing up. The nurses did not mind that was exceeding the limit of visitors (another advantage of taking chemo late in the day).
Then, Dan and Pia insisted on coming to our place to “hang out, watch a movie.” I tried to tell them that it would not be a pleasant night for me and it wasn’t very appropriate for social calls. They didn’t seem to get it. I didn’t mind them being there when I got sick, but it was if they didn’t quite believe me. So I was a good sport and they came over and ordered in Japanese food. I clenched my jaw against the smell and tried to participate by asking for rice. (Which I couldn’t eat because the restaurant foiled my plan by putting some fancy seasoning on it. Bleah.) It was a challange but I made it through the smells of their dinners.
We put on Napolian Dynamite. All was going well. Then, right on time, 2.5 hours after chemo, I ran out of the room, tossed a few cookies, put myself together and re-emerged from the bedroom. Dan and Pia were scrambling to get their things together. “Oh, my, we should go….no really, we should go.” You would have thought that they had walked in on quite something else. Poor things were tripping over themselves to get out of there. I was sorry to make them uncomfortable, but to be honest a part of me found it humorous. It was hard not to sing, “told you so…” just for the fun of it. But I didn’t. They weren’t quite ready to joke about it yet. (My chemo twin, Jess, on the other hand, had a good laugh with me later!)
I managed to keep Del company for the movie and then gratefully crawled into bed, willed myself to go to sleep immediately. With new drugs in my arsenal, I thought I was going to make it through the night. I slept well until Del came to bed a few hours later. I woke up and had to go to the bathroom. As I set there peeing, the urge to throw up hit hard and fast. Obviously I couldn’t jump off the toilet that quickly, so I clamped my hand over my mouth. You know how well that works: there I was in all my glory, sitting on the john and throwing up in my lap! (As Del just said, “ahh, the good old days.”)
I think I may have giggled about it a little right then, which you can imagine struck Del as strange from the other room. A few paper towels did the trick and it was not so bad. And I made it through the night with no more problems. Most importantly I learned two good lessons: 1 – survey the nausea situation before blocking your only receptacle. 2 – Most importantly, no matter how bad the last chemo was, there’s plenty of hope that the next one will be better!