(cont. from Chemo Week – Part I)
As I’m writing this, its the Thursday right before Halloween and I just had my pre-chemo treatment today. Tomorrow is Friday, the big day. Its the ‘big day’ because its my last round of chemotherapy. There’s an ominous feeling of nervousness in the pit of my stomach being that this weekend is All Hollow’s Eve and the last round of chemo was really hard on me; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. BUT, although there’s butterflies in stomach, there’s also a beautiful, bright light at the end of the tunnel that I can finally see.
I lift my hands to believe again,
You are my refuge, You are my strength.
As I pour out my heart, these things I remember,
You are faithful, God, forever.
Let faith arise.
This song has been in my heart, its been my anthem and my inspiration throughout this whole ordeal. I even made it my ringtone! I was lucky enough to be able to see its songwriter, Chris Tomlin, sing this live in concert last night, the night before my last round of chemotherapy. No coincidence, I know. God has a beautiful and grand way of letting us know that He loves us by arranging things perfectly, just in time. I’d been struggling mostly emotionally and spiritually over the last couple of weeks and this concert was like I’d been thrown a lifesaver at a critical moment while trying to keep my head out of water in the roughest sea.
I was liberated of the heaviest weight on my shoulders I’d ever felt in my entire life. The night’s speaker, Louie Giglio, spoke of a time in his life where a dark cloud plagued him, resulting in many sleepless nights. I knew it in my heart when he said it: I’d been dealing with my own dark cloud. Like I said, just in time.
Friday is chemo day and I get my big, purple Zumba bag ready: Kindle (check), tabloid magazines (check, because I HAVE to keep up with my Kardashian news), headphones (check), I-pod (check, complete with the latest Zumba tunes), and my new lime green blanket (check, courtesy of my thoughtful friend Mariann). Its gonna be a LONG five hours at the cancer center. I’ll give you the short version.
Since the needle is already in place from the day before from pre-treatment, I don’t have to worry about another needle-stick. Whoop uh dee doo. The nurse flushes it out again with the skunky stuff and hooks me up to my first of about 5 different IV bags of chemotherapy. I joke with the nurse that they’re giving me rat poison, just enough NOT to kill me. They start me with anti-nausea medication because who wants to see THAT on the floor? Or anywhere for that matter. The whole process is really not that bad until we get to the fourth bag about 2-3 hours into the treatment. My favorite! Its set at a very fast drip and its the only one that affects me the moment it gets going. You know that awful feeling you get when you snort too much water accidentally up your nose? The one where it hurts your nasal cavity and travels up your forehead and over the back of your head? Yeah, that’s the lovely effect I get EVERY time from this particular IV bag and it lasts for about a week thereafter. I wish my pee would just turn pink like it does when I get the Kool-Aid red bag…I could live with that.
The mood of the chemotherapy room depends on the day and who’s there. Sometimes its quiet, sometimes its full of laughs, but it’s always full of hope. We smile at each other even though we don’t feel like smiling. We encourage each other because its like we’re encouraging ourselves. My buddy Albert always comes by my recliner to say hello and tell me everything is gonna be alright and I know he’s right. Everything is pretty ho-hum throughout the whole process and I’m ready for it to be over when the nurse comes over with the blood pressure gauge. YES! Time to go home and EEEEEAT! Instead of losing weight, I’ve unfortunately gained it due to the insane amount of prednisone steroids I have to take after each chemotherapy session. Oh well, I would much rather gain weight than have my life cut short. I can always lose the weight, but I can’t come back from the dead. I’ll leave those miracles to the Son of God…I’m not that talented.
The nurse flushes out my chestport again (skunk) and takes the dressing off my chest. SWEET RELIEF!! The itchiness can finally be scratched and my skin can breeeeeef! The nurse gives me an order for lab work that I need to have done before my next treatment along with an appointment card for my follow-up with my doctor. I high-tail it out of there with my posse (my one visitor I’m allowed) and head for the nearest exit! Being that tomorrow is my LAST treatment, I have no idea how tomorrow’s session is gonna end so my curiousity has been peaked.
I go to my parents’ house usually as the effects of the day are too much for me to be alone at home. I try to keep ahead of the nausea with medication but it sneaks up on me. That snorted-water feeling remains for the entire week along with the nausea. My fifth round of treatment resulted in the most instense case of chemo brain or brain fog since I started the first treatment. I walked around in a complete zombie-like daze for an entire week with my husband and friends constantly having to repeat themselves. And even then, all they got in return at times was a blank stare. God bless their patient hearts! Try as I might, I could not make my way through the fog that clouded my mind. I have two words for you to describe chemo brain: Patrick Star. If you’ve ever watched Spongebob Squarepants or have a child under the age of 10, you know exactly who I’m referring to.
This is your brain on chemo drugs.
I think I’m gonna start a campaign to make Patrick Star the official spokestar for chemo brain sufferers everywhere. Believe me, I can relate to that guy. After about eight days of nausea, snorted-water head, and chemo brain, I finally start to feel like myself. The nausea eases, the snorted-water feeling goes away, and the fog begins to lift. But my head is still bald.