After early-morning bloodwork and a CT scan, the word is in: no surprises in my chemistry, no new passengers on board. This means we slow my visits from twice a year to once a year, and my chances of recurrence have dropped again. Good news we all needed on a Monday after a long, hard weekend.
I’m home after day one of chemotherapy, and I’m still alive. Radiation was no big deal, although it finally caught up with me on Sunday when the Marines stormed the beach in three successive waves. That’s still a good thing, because the way the baby is sitting the doctors have been worried about everything getting stopped up. Luckily that hasn’t been a problem yet.
I am terrified of chemo. Needles, poison, radiation, hair loss, puking, diarrhea; it’s like a smorgasbord of things I hate, all at the same time! Not knowing what to expect, now or five days from now, is equal parts deliberate masochism and mercy. Reading about it on the Internet will only lead down a rabbit hole of “My chemo experience was more painful/disgusting/useless than yours,” and I can’t do that shit right now. I want to know the reality, not the chestburster version of events. The nurses have all been awesome and informative and I’m asking them as many questions as I can think of, and of course Jen is doing the same, but better.
We got into the room a couple hours late due to scheduling mixups, but they knew we were there and got things straightened out. I laid down in a comfy window bed at about 12 and a nice nurse put the line into my port, which hurt for a second but then, oddly, did not. It’s amazing what we can get used to when we need to. They pushed saline into me for about an hour, and then switched over to anti-nausea medication. This was a smaller bag but when it hit it felt like I’d done a shot of whisky: BOOM, right to the head. My mouth went dry and my head floated up off my neck like a balloon tied to my spine. Then, it was time for poison!
They’re giving me two different drugs, Etoposide and Ifosfamide. Etoposide is the lighter of the two. Ifosfamide is more potent, and likes to keep working after it’s made its way into the bladder, so they gave me a third drug that stops the drug from eating away at the bladder wall. Yay! They started the light one first and then hit me with the heavy one. I didn’t feel nausea as much as I felt my stomach–or the place where my stomach used to be–feeling angry. Like heartburn angry, but where the baby is. Only repeated visits to the bathroom helped. This also means I’m sitting down on the toilet so that I don’t piss radioactivity all over the bathmat.
Jen sat across from me on the bench and made sure I was eating from the cooler she’d carefully packed: one of everything in the fridge. She rubbed my feet when I was stiff and held my hand when I was nervous. She checked on me and made sure I was feeling OK. She asked careful questions I’m too dumb to think of: if I had to do this on my own, I’d be one of those guys who wakes up across the border in a bathtub of ice with a scar and a note cheerfully telling me someone stole my kidney. She is my rock(star) and I am so thankful to have her by my side.
After I emptied the bags our nurse pushed another 1/3 bag of fluids in me and then we were free to go at about 5. The nurse listened to my boilerplate “I’m a chicken when it comes to needles” story, and suggested we leave it in. I wasn’t aware we could do that, so I figured what the hell. So I have a needle sticking out of my chest, attached to a plastic tube. Again, it’s amazing what we can get used to. Before we left we rescheduled some of the visits to earlier in the day, when the ward isn’t as crowded, which is great for us, both for getting things over with and avoiding rush hour traffic on a full bladder.
So, four more days of this shit. I’m told it will get much worse on Wednesday, which I don’t doubt. And the weekend is supposed to be loads of fun.