THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

I had NEVER worn these before and they were bought in 1995!

CHEMO SESSION #2

OK, I confess.  I put off writing this post because I was scared, selfish and just a plain mess. My second chemo session was ages ago, but I just didn’t have the heart or energy to relive it.  I was deluded into thinking that this time it would be easier than the first session.  I mean, how much rougher could it be than the first time?

I guess, going into it, I was already in a state.  If you zoom into the photo above, you can see the flagellate flagellating on my uncovered arms and legs.  It was itchy and I was miserable.

My second chemo session was in the morning.  I had planned this way so no one would be pushing us out the door at 7pm.  Had my bloods drawn, my chin prodded for another $20 and then waited for the doctor.

No more Bleomycin or Benedryl. At least, it was the one drug you can cut out of the cocktail without adverse effects.  The doc informed me that my white blood cell count may go down so I needed a blood test the next week.  If it did go down, I would have to take Neupagin which promotes the growth of white blood cells.  I would also need to take Perocet with it because it hurt the bones.  I so didn’t want to go down that path. Let’s hope my cells were working for me.

When the chemo room was ready, I was led to a windowless, dark cell.  Not wanting to be a princess, I sat down without asking for room with a view.  I could deal, right?

A different nurse came into the room and started the whole rigmarole.  She prodded my arm for a vein and decided to use the same one as last time. Before she began administering the meds, it just didn’t feel right.  The IV felt too close to my skin and it hurt.  She said they couldn’t take it out and another more senior nurse came in and said it was fine.  As she started with the adriamycin, the medicine burned like hell going in.  You are NOT supposed to feel adriamycin or vinblastine going in – only dacarbazine.  They couldn’t stop and so they carried on.  Needless to say, I was a totally distraught, upset and in pain.

While in this state, a group of ladies knocked on my door and asked if they could have a minute.  Carrying blankets and smiling ear to ear, I knew they were probably here to say something reassuring.  The nurse asked nicely if they wouldn’t mind coming back a bit later.  When they did, I was still a mess and asked my Mother to deal with them.  She told them that I was new to all this and was not ready to see anyone (Yeah Mom!).  They were survivors and only wanted to give me hope and support.  Mom told them to give her the hope and she would pass it along. They left, saying they would be back in a couple of weeks.

Why didn’t I want to see them?  Or at least have the decency to hear what they had to say? I know I was upset but usually I am not rude.  Was it that I didn’t want to be thought of as a survivor?  Of course, I want to survive but I never wanted it to be “sick” in the first place.  I didn’t feel sick so how could I be sick.  As the chemo drugs were coursing through my veins, I still don’t want to admit it.  I have cancer and there is nothing I can do about it.  I have been brooding over this for two weeks now and I want to apologize to them.  I want to scream out loud: I want to be a survivor – come back and say hello!

As the dacarbazine started and I was in a right state, someone knocked on the door.  A Reiki volunteer turned up and wished to know if I wanted a session.  I nodded and she came in, turned off the lights and started doing her business. Finally, with the lights out and her hands on me, I calmed down and everything got better.

It’s funny that everyone who send me wishes has called me brave. In every email, it’s…”oh, you are so brave”…”I admire your courage”…brave this brave that.   Why…because I put on nice shoes and I am writing a blog?  I assure you I am no braver than anyone else.  It’s a front to fool myself into believing that it really isn’t happening to me.  I have to accept it and move on.

THE GOODS

It is so important to keep busy so you can get out of your own head.  My work is slow at the moment because I can’t travel.  All my summer work projects have been put on hold until I get back to London.  This is dangerous as I have too much time on my hands and am only thinking about myself.  Here are a few suggestions to start me thinking about something and someone else.

1. GOALS
A friend gave me some great advise: set some goals for this time. He had been laid up with back surgery and read all of Proust – “Now, when people mention the Duchesse de Guermantes or Madame Verdurin or the Baron Charlus, I know whom they’re talking about and it makes me feel immensely superior.”  I love this and it made me laugh!  I never though about reading Proust but now I am almost finished 75 pages. Only 3425 left.  A friend also suggested reading War and Peace, which is on my list too. One thing I have wanted to read was Robert Fagles translation of Homer’s Iliad.  I even have tapes of Sir Derek Jacobi reciting it.  So with three projects laid out for me: Proust, Tolstoy and Homer – I am set.  (In between, I might sneak in 50 Shades of Grey for some literary relief, nothing dirty!)

2. TAKE A CHANCE
Try something you have never done before!  A friend of mine sent me watercolors, paper and a brush.  I never paint.  She said it is really relaxing and to give it a try.  Why not? There is no one watching.

3. PICK UP SOMETHING YOU MEANT TO DO A LONG TIME AGO AND FINISH IT
I used to do so much needlepoint.  Every time I went on a train or airplane or sat and watched TV, I would work on a pillow.  Life gets in the way and attention is diverted.  I have glorious pillows waiting to be made – it’s time to start again.

4.  THINK OF SOMEONE ELSE
Like those ladies who came to visit me, think of doing something else for someone else. Help those being affected by the terrible fire fighters: redcross.org or those suffering the African famines:  oxfam.org Give locally or globally.

5. DO SOMETHING EXTRA
If you don’t feel like tackling the greats of literature, making pillows or have no funds to donate right now, pick something positive to do so that after all this is done, you can say, “Well chemo was a bitch but I…”

2 thoughts on “THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

  1. Ah, it’s so understandable that you weren’t ready to see those people with the blanket and good intentions. And I’m sure (if they are trained properly) they realize not everyone is capable of handling their presence. Personally, I wanted nothing to do with anyone regarding survivors or support for a very long time. It wasn’t till treatment was OVER that it became possible to deal. (So poor you, right in the middle of a painful chemo session.)

    A couple things.

    One: Those shoes are great. As is the dress, the glasses and the wallpaper.

    Two: I’ll only mention this the last time. It can be worth asking for a picc line if the chemo is burning. I had severe pain in the veins after the first two or three AC treatments, and the picc became my saviour. Only thing was, I actually had to ask for this procedure and tell my doctor about the pain before it was even mentioned. (While my online community is in Canada, my treatment was in England – so I think that may be standard over there . . . only provide when requested?)

    Wishing you many days of feeling fine.

    Catherine
    http://www.facingcancer.ca

  2. yaz says:

    Understand, when going through the Stroke stuff i found it uncomfortable talking about survival, being lucky, positive thinking. Only wanted to think about day to day.
    love you xxxx

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