Last Monday I went to my first chemo infusion, and I wanted to discuss the journey as it transpired. On Tues. I felt a little off all day, but around 3:40pm, things went on a course that was step by step what I was told in the materials the clinic handed me. On Monday, 4:38pm, a port was placed on my abdomen called Neurolast, you probably saw the commercials with a woman wearing it on her arm. I lay on my arms at night so I opted to use my stomach. The port is to help keep the white blood count in check. When the port is attached, if feels like the sharp sting of a rubber band pluck. The meds are dispensed 27 hours after chemo ends.
Tuesday after 24 hours had passed, I started to feel nauseated, and weak, really off balanced, so I went up to bed, and then it all happened so quickly. It was as if someone struck a match and I could literally watch a field ignite, inch by inch, but it as all taking place inside my body. First, the tip of my tongue, was numb, then, anything I put into my mouth, was off putting in taste, metallic, briny. It traveled down to my stomach and the storm of a battle was like war gods fighting to a death duel. My limbs were weak, unsupportive. I felt nauseous, dizzy, headachy, my gums hurt, my chest hurt. It felt like the worse flu just came slamming down, and I could not duck and cover. The joints ached, and the hands and feet, though, limp, were as if they were not there. My throat became scratchy, and my head ached. Whatever didn’t hurt, was too weak to support me. Once the medicine dispensed, if felt like it made the battle within greater, stronger, harder. It’s all part of what must be, so no need to be hysterical, or panicky, just go through.
I made it through the night, with so much agony. I took the nausea medicine, but the pains in my stomach were so severe, I couldn’t tell if it was bloat, gas, or something more torturous, but it was on the list of side effects.
Wednesday, I felt worse than Tues., tongue totally burnt, feels as if a match or hot iron was rubbed back and forth down into my throat. I am so listless. My body is in its greatest battle. I look at my stomach to see if there are weapons poking through. What is not hurting, what is not being touched by the poison that was placed into my veins, 72 hours ago? Funny how we think we go through horrible, atrocious situations, and we wonder “how we gone make it”(my Grandma’s vernacular), then we find ourselves in greater despair, tougher circumstances, deep health, financial, mental, emotional cycles. How could we ever make it, not on our own, we can do nothing ourselves outside, placing all our faith and trust in other than what and who we are. We need God!
Thursday morning, the storm ceased, and I could actually hear within myself as the truce was called, and all fighting stopped. Thank you my Lord, and as the day traveled into late evening, the lower organs took up the battle, so much pain, gas. I took anti-nausea meds, as prescribed, and Benadryl, and I rested, my body rested.
Friday, I could not stand, light and sound, and vibrations, so I stayed in bed, eyes covered, eat minimally, drink water. Although everything tastes foul, I can taste sweet, so I got this taste in my head “sugar babies”, so Alex, (my oldest son/caretaker in this part of life’s journey) bought me sugar babies, and I still crave ice cream( no cheap tasting, no Breyers). I, being an ice cream connoisseur, have always been particular about brands, and taste, and texture of ice creams. He brought me ice cream. I can tolerate peanut butter on a plastic spoon, or crackers, things are looking up. I realize as light dims, and darkness falls, my body has discontinued the cease fire, and all night, I toss and moan in agonizing, gut wrenching, pain, sharp, continuous, torpedo drilling pain. Body aching, weak and limp, head aching; nose bleeding, clogging my throat. The one area untouched, my ears. Even under my feet, I feel pain.
The documents state that it takes 72 hours for the chemo meds to dispense throughout the body, and 7 days to reach throughout the body, so I count down the days.
Saturday, I am so weak, I am so tired of trying to eat and then have my system attack everything I put into it, I monitor my eating, and drinking. I have to take one medication to protect my heart with food in the morning and evening, but that has to be spaced out. I eat before 9am, hopefully, and then before 6pm to get those meds in, but eating too late, gives my body the attack signal by bedtime, and that will determine how restful my night will be.
Sunday, I awoke, with no stomach pain, and think I am over the hurdle, but that dream is short lived. Today, I feel as though I have a mild flu bug, maybe it will be better tomorrow, as this is day 6. I am excited to think, “it’s almost over”.
Monday, I felt well enough to hang downstairs, and thought I could check emails, do a little writing and that is what I did, and I even entertained guests. This was all of the good times, as evening came, so too did the ferocious, unrelenting battle in my guts, and in my spine and in my legs, and back, and it was worse than the battle before. I spend the night in the bathroom, there was so much agony, it broke me, I relented and resolved in puddles of tears. I contemplated getting someone up in the night to take me to the hospital, the pain was too great, more severe than labor, more torturous than being beat with a bat in the stomach(I imagine). It took every bit of my strength, and when morning came, I was a limp, rag. My joints ached all day, and my time in the bathroom, increased. I had to eat and drink something, and each time, I would suffer as if there was a keeper at the gate to signal; “she’s sending something in”, and immediately, the attack was on. I find myself taunting my body, “hurt me, kill me, I don’t care, I will not relent, I will not give in”. As I lay there, predawn, I felt a light touch across my interior fingers and hand, and a quiet voice saying, “it’s alright, I got this”, and peace rested all over me, and my body lay calm.
Tuesday, I spent the day, resting, as these battles in the night take so much of my energy, and resolve. I almost forget what day it is, and sometimes that I have a life outside of this journey. I would be doing something else besides running to the bathroom, laying down, writhing in pain with the smallest amount of food or liquid, but I could stand the daylight, and I read today, and anytime my head and eyes can endure it, I read, or I listen to a word, because I talk to God all the time, in spite of the battle, I am with the Lord, and He is certainly with me, carrying me through this.
It is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, and I am up and feeling a lot better today, so Praise God. Praise God. I pray the chemo has filtrated through my system, but I can no longer think that a daily countdown is going to get me there. It is…One Day At A Time! I am weak, but feeling no pain, and my food today stayed in place so far, my stomach is not at war, and light is not hurting my eyes. One thing I forgot to mention, from the time I got home after the chemo infusion last Monday till now, everything and everywhere I am I smell cigarette smoke. I have always had a weak stomach, and cigarette smoke has always been a source of kryptonite for me, but the fact that it is the one constant in my being now, keeps me feeling weak, and nauseous all the time, 24/7. Nobody smells it but me, and I am overwhelmed and tortured by the scent.
I thought about myself, and I thought about small babies, small children, and older people who endure chemo and the side effects I have experienced, and I realize that we have no idea how hard this is on those bodies and they are not able to express, or explain what is happening. God help us to learn how to be more compassionate towards one another. This was just the first infusion, there are 5 more of these and more after that. What else is there to burn, what else is there to experience with each new treatment? Stay tuned.
Hope you enjoy the read, it is intense on purpose to bring insight and recollection, and transparency.
Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!