proceed with caution
February 9, 2007 § 8 Comments
You did not miss the announcement. I’ve been quiet, and tired. Too tired to sit at the computer. I slipped in for my fifth treatment a couple of weeks ago. I barely slipped out. I was assigned Chair 21. The numerology savvy crowd might applaud, but there was no good fortune or luck associated with the blue vinyl behemoth that day.
It was Taxol and Benadryl and Decadron and handful of other anti-nausea, anti-allergy, anti-energy concoctions mixed into deep sleep syrup with sufficient poison to slay the Disney witches. Five hours later I woke up sloggy and groggy. My blood pressure was taken a half dozen times that day each time a non-event. Eventually I went home. I slept, and slept some more.
The following afternoon I proceeded with caution. First to acupuncture, then back to the hospital for a Nuelasta shot. In between, Carolyn came by for the first in a series of unplugged and unfiltered photo sessions at my home. The day was relatively calm; some mild nausea and tiredness you would expect with this sort of regime. No danger signs, no warnings and nothing to prepare me for what followed.
At 2:48am drenched in an icy cold sweat I shot up in bed. My hands were too swollen to make a fist and my feet too sore to stand on. I knew that it was far better to cower under the covers then subject myself to novice hands and ignorant probes in the ER so
I counted down the hours ‘til dawn.
It took much longer than usual to arrive; an eternity from 3am to 3:23am. Well over an hour from 4:15am to 4:58am. I am not sure what nether world I had entered, but I prayed for an ordinary sixty-minute hour and the unforgiving ding ding ding of the alarm.
I just needed to get Frannie off to school and get in to see my treatment nurse asap. By 9am I was at the hospital and displaying my red hands and sore feet.
The conclusion of my near terminal drama was a stunning bore.
Hand-Foot syndrome; a rare side effect. Not to be confused with the more common foot in mouth syndrome. Hand-Foot occurs when small amounts of the chemo drug leaks out of the capillaries and into the tissue of your palms and soles. The affected area becomes swollen and numb. Keypads and any kind of typing is treachery. Power-tools are off-limits, same for washing dishes, needlepoint and hand jobs.
My vital signs were normal. I was told to stay off my feet and to not use my hands. Bobsledding anyone?
A few days later my digits like the tin man creaked and cracked and eventually moved. Just in time for a deep dose of exhaustion to rain on me.
The chemotherapy textbooks say to expect fatigue. But fatigue is much too delicate and refined a word to suggest what lie ahead. Try shattered, pummeled or battered.
Just looking ahead.
Appointment reminder for Monday 2/12/2007
9:00am CHAIR 22
I asked my acupuncturist how women in China deal with breast cancer. He said they took herbs and had acupuncture. I spent the next 45 minutes with 20+ needles in my back imagining how I would dramatically go about stopping my chemo treatments and reinventing an herbal lifefor myself toxin-free in remote Borneo.
I asked my friends what they thought.
Everyone loves the idea of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, even the case worker nurse from Blue Cross Blue Shield. But, no one seems to love them enough to trust them to do the job of ridding the cancer solo.
“What about all those people who opt for herbal and alternative remedies?” I asked
Marty did not miss a beat. “They’re dead”
My daughter turns 7 tomorrow.
I’ll meet with my Oncologist on Monday before meeting with my Chair and I will ask Dr Come why the magic 8 treatments? Why not stop at 5? I’ll look for a way out that still offers me a cure. I’ll try on the idea of walking away, but won’t. I’ll curse our toxic world. I’ll ask for a smaller dose. I’ll consider taking a week off.
I’ll slip into chair 22 at 9am on February 12th and wake up five hours later with one more down and just two to go.