Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Round 2- Monkey Business and Special Gifts

I feel like I should have a scantily clad woman prancing around with a card.  In the old chemo days- it was half naked Lily- tossing the purple robe to the ground and dancing around the chemo ring in tap shoes.

Cancer is cumulative in every way. In a Li Fraumeni Syndrome family- you can't even imagine the worries on multiple levels for many family members. While I was undergoing a lung biopsy- I had 2 cousins going through the cancer drill too. One has been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.  I have a non LFS aunt battling pancreatic cancer and who is on abraxane too. We compare side effects like most people compare wines. We do a little of that too, sheerly for coping with side effects, of course. I wouldn't even consider a wig until we had an early 3am text session. She had started her wig collection and gave me the name of an online shop. (PaulaYoung.com- fabulous prices variety and quality BTW!) I think she wasn't even considering shaving her head until that chat session. Yet as much as I hate that cancer brings us together in this way- that's what families are for- they share the same gene pool or are associated by marriage and you stick together.Then there are the friends who are with you in experience and spirit who send you lots of happys to make the journey more comfortable and fun.

The up side to going to chemo early in the day, is not waiting long in the waiting room. The down side is traffic. Yet I have very special friends D'ana and Courtney who keep me in theme chemo socks- and Chemo 2's theme was Monkey Business.  This is a true gift from experience and most people would say- socks in Hawaii? Well I wear slippahs to the hospital and it's like below 30 in the chemo bay- so the snugglier, the better. Phil always offers to put them on- and for a second I feel like Cinderella- if Cinderella had to get chemo- she would totally rock monkey socks.

We get to Tripler and work our way back to Medical specialties. It's ironically next to OB/Gyn . Or poetic, I'm not sure. I'd be lying if I said it didn't sting a bit passing excited pregnant couples on my way out of chemo or into chemo. But then I remember how fun pregnancy was(there's that cancer induced previous pain relativity scale at work) and the four not so little monkeys who keep me entertained and I am grateful for my blessings.  I also recognize a couple of the regulars in the bay from last time. A chatty couple who talks to the pregnant lady- probably another person who feels a little bit of the sting passing other pregnant couples on her way to the chemo bay. Her body is trying to fight off the lil monkey inside of her so she is on weekly immunoglobulin drips.

Phil and I get settled, I don't land one of the nice heated seats but I have a warm hat from my friend Jen to keep me cuddly.  I get out my ipod and special compass my friend Cara made me to keep me centered and guided and to know wherever I am there's always a mutant there with me in spirit. I'm not very entertaining in Chemo. Everyone keeps telling me to slow down and use my energy to fight cancer- so I do that in the Chemo Bay. Phil's gift to me is to sit there and every so often channel some positive energy my way and catch up on Sports Illustrated. My friend Linda sent me a library of meditation cds- I threw them on my ipod and I do healing visualization. Deep breath in, blow the glitter out.
Then things got hopping in the chemo bay. We were waiting on my bloodwork to come back to determine if I could get chemo(it did, eventually, I could..) . A lady bopped in for her final chemo. With her 2 girlfriends. After a round of applause, another lady walked in, carefully guided by her husband who looked like he could use some holding up himself. She was obviously not doing well. This instigated overly excited final chemo lady to launch into a diatribe about how her husband had to go- that chemo was much more fun with girlfriends. Apparently we are on different chemo plans- mine is about killing cancer and if there is fun along the way- yippee- telling a lady who is about to puke for the probably 8th time that morning to sideline the husband- not my favorite plan. I think a heavy dose of zofran and a chaser of phenergan might be that poor woman's idea of a good time. Sick lady decides to jump across the bay- further from party central the first chance she got. I know they would have put her in the quiet area in back if they could- but that was taken up by a neutropenic lady(low blood counts- very susceptible to infection).  Like I said busy day in the bay.

I turned my volume way up, again and Phil took a coffee break. He would have brought it back but is a frequent flyer in chemo world and considerate and worried the smell might bother someone. It could have but the smell would have had to get past the stank peppy and her entourage were making with loud final chemo gift giving and video of every step and drop and then launched into a very long story about someone at work who didn't get it and was incompetent. Not only do we live on an island, we are getting treatment at a military facility on an island. I look at Phil and he shrugs- mind you I am hearing all this over my Healing waterfall guided healing imagery- or trying to. He knows everyone they are talking about. It's a small world, you always have to mind your words. A good lesson in the chemo bay and in life. Especially when sick lady is very very sick and the husband is there by her side holding the basin and rubbing her back.  Then at least there was quiet.

Don't get me wrong- I'm all for fun and games.  Chemo is a long and tough process and no one's ever in the same place. You do what you gotta do- as long as you understand the person next to you might be very sick and may never get a chance at "last chemo day" and when they do that day is going to look a lot different.

Shortly after that we got what I hear is a pretty rare treat-snacks- some great folks from UH brought in spinach wraps and desserts. Food in the chemo bay can be distastrous- but from what I understand most centers have snacks and such available, not so at TAMC. So next time you are frustrated over where your tax dollars go- you can be sure that although I'm pretty good at pushing for the good expensive meds- there aren't a lot of frills to go with it at an army medical center. A trade off in my opinion that is well worth it- not too much of a frilly girl anyway.

 Rounding out the Round 2 of Chemo was the addition of a newbie- brought in for blood work. That person was me just a few weeks ago. I still don't know my way around and I'd like to keep it that way- but her tell tale terrified deer in headlights eyes made me want to drag my IV pole over there and wrap her in a great big hug. The nurses there are great and sit down and go over a lot. Yet had I not already had extensive knowledge of cancer and chemo- I would feel pretty alone in that crowded room of varying stages of chemo-ick listening to the side effect trail and glancing around to see the reality. I wanted to introduce myself and give her my number. But she was still in the throes of chemo 101 when I got unplugged and my bone juice shot(which means no trip in next week unless I'm sick!!). But it looks like she will be taking peppy's place in monday chemo bay fray- maybe next time I'll try to remember to take an extra pair of socks. Sometimes just a little thoughtfulness and a small thing can keep you warm in a lot of ways. Many hugs to those who send special gifts whether they be mailed or sent on prayer wings. I appreciate them all.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)