Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Last 500

My final chemo is next Monday. I'm looking forward to the end of this series of hospital visits. I'm also looking forward to having dinner that night with two friends from my rowing past. Now, it will be an even bigger bit of a celebration.

As usual, thankfully, week 2 of the cycle moves along. I've been feeling good since Sunday morning though still more tired than I expect given my level of activity, but manageable nonetheless. I'm also still surprised when I realize that I am indeed starting to feel better, as I was on Sunday, and that the few days prior were a little harder than I wanted to let on (to myself). Part of me wants to not admit to feeling tired because then it becomes a little too real, and I don't want that to bring me down.

Now, a few thoughts and randomness on the previous 1500 as the last 500 winds down.

Tickets. You need a ticket to get your chemo. This is not the ticket you want. Unfortunately, there is no age or height requirement necessary. Where I go, it is only adults. I can't even imagine. My questions are, who would actually go in my place? And, aren't all my vital signs and blood work in the computer report already and that instead you need a hand written 3x5 card from me? And, let's not forget, I do have an appointment to be here, at this specified time. Hmmmm. Should be easier to do this math.

Skin. My mouth feels great just in case you were wondering. On the A/C my mouth always felt sensitive and on the verge of a sore spot developing so I was careful about flossing and brushing and staying away from toast and other unforgiving, gash causing foods. While my mouth is cooperating with the Taxol, my hands are not quite up to snuff. They aren't callousing as they normally would from rowing. Lots of thin skin and peeling layers. No terrible hot spots, though, just the thin skin. Fortunately, when they normally callous up (as in pre-chemo) they are pretty tough, but right now this is not helping the rowing.

Travel. Of course. Did I just have chemo? Yes, then I must be traveling. Just like the spring racing season, it seems every time I have chemo, it is time to travel. Last week, I was off to Mercer  County for the U23 and Senior World Rowing trials on Days 2 and 3. Hello, New Jersey! Fortunately, I was traveling by car with the trusty dog Max and I could stop when I wanted some rest (which I did on the way home). Next travel will be well past a chemo day and even well into week 2 (shocking - who scheduled this). It will actually be Day 12. How great is that? Day 12! Day 12 is always a good day, followed by more good days. Hoorah! Remarkably, by the time I get home, it will be Day 22. I haven't had a Day 22 yet. Fingers crossed I don't ever have one again.

Familiar faces. None, and that's not a bad thing. The people I do recognize are a few of the nurses. The infusion floor has north and south sections, both divided into at least 4 large rooms, not to mention some of the private rooms along the hallway. There is room for a lot of us. I don't terribly mind the time in the chair itself - mostly it is boring, but I do mind the lost time. For most visits, it has been pretty quiet, not a raucous crowd showing up. Last Monday started no differently. It was nice and quiet, that is,  until the last two patients who overlapped with me showed up - one began watching daytime TV at a volume that was working for me if I had really wanted to hear Family Feud and must have been absolutely blaring for her, and one other patient, part of a couple who are apparently married, at least they were bickering like an old married couple. The woman finally threatened to step outside to warm up in the garden and all I could think was, "I hope so, we could all use the peace and quiet." Maybe he would have been better in a private room, with a closed door policy, just to get some rest. I nearly got put into one of those private rooms that day - not fun. Situated across from the coffee station, it would have been quiet despite a fair amount of foot traffic and peering in, but it also would have been about 5 hours in solitary, a good 4 hours and 45 minutes longer than I would have enjoyed - ugh. Thank goodness my nurse found me a better spot - North 380D and this view - just another perk of Yawkey 8.

Lunch. Is it a free lunch? I don't think so, but at least I don't have to worry about bringing or buying food. Plus, it's fresh and the volunteers are very nice about letting you know everything that is on their cart, even if you probably heard them tell the patient in the chair next to you only 60 seconds ago. Very friendly and attentive service! Last two visits, I've managed the chicken caesar salad, chips, fruit cup, and cookies. Only one more to go. Maybe a perk.

The T. I have been surprised that no one has offered me a seat. I think it must be a fear thing, and not anything personal. Maybe politeness factors in, too. Who wants to make the assumption about someone's health - what they think: are you sick? What they say: do you want my seat? Translation - you look lousy.  It's hard enough to guess if someone is pregnant (and not overweight) - no one (polite) wants to (or should) ask and risk offending the possible mother to be. Cancer? Talk about a hot potato.

Skin, part 2. I feel like that except for my thinning eyebrows and eyelashes, there is almost no hair left on my face. This makes the skin feel more sensitive to the touch since there is no buffer, but at the same time the smoothness is a) a little unnerving, b) weird, and c) not smooth in a not-slippery sort of way - without the fine hairs that are usually there, there is more friction so if I touch my face it is almost like my fingers stick. True hairlessness is over rated.

Next post - surgical update. I've circled July 30 on my calendar - that's the big day.

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