So here I am 11 days into my first cycle of chemo. While I still struggle with some nausea, especially when I’m tired, I feel like I have regained some control over my body. Maybe control isn’t the correct word. I think my body is allowing me to have some say over what it does.
The anemia that has plagued me for years is getting worse. Not only does a low red cell count make you tired, it makes you huff and puff when you try to exert yourself in any way, shape or form. Red blood cells carry oxygen and the fewer red cells you have, the less oxygen you carry. The less oxygen you carry, the more fatigued you get since every stinking organ in your body needs oxygen. So I eat Cream of Wheat – lots of it. And my hemoglobin drops. I eat spinach, which is certainly not the tastiest when you are nauseated, and my hemoglobin drops. Just sitting here typing this makes me feel like I need a nap. Seriously, blogging requires a nap.
I go to the Community Cancer Care Center (doesn’t that sound nice) every Friday, either for chemo or to have blood drawn. The blood draws not a bad thing. They hook into your port (a catheter inserted into your chest, which has a line connected to the subclavian vein) and poof, the blood just comes out. While I’m sure the blood thinners I’m on have something to do with that, I prefer to think I’m just a good bleeder for the nurses. I go to this place every Friday like a good girl. The only control I have is whether I chose to put numbing cream over the port site before they stick me. I have no choice in tasting the heparin they use to flush the vein first (which also burns like crazy) or where I get to sit. I just follow like a puppy on a leash. Now, I love my chemo nurses. Sharon is a sweet southern belle and holds my hand through any tears I shed. John reminds me of my own John, tall and thin with a warped sense of humor. We get along great. I set it up and get provides the punch line. And I can’t imagine for the life of me why people don’t like him. I LOVE him! I guess I can control that.
Chemo is where you totally lose control. First they give you a benadryl cocktail to prevent an allergic reaction to your chemo. Then, they come at you in full hazmat gear to hook you up to something so toxic it takes 3 full hours to drip into your system. If they drip it too fast, you’ll get sick from the side effect too quickly. Then after a nice flush of saline, I get the ovarian cancer chemo drug carboplatin, which also requires full hazmat gear. Did I mention that I don’t get the hazmat gear? Just my nurse. Hubby is politely reminded to back away while I am slowly poisoned. Wow, I wonder if he thought about this possibility when he signed on for marriage? I’m still debating if this falls under the sickness or worse part of the contract.
So while I get poisoned, I have no control. They do let me go to the bathroom, which of course you have to do since they are pumping fluid into you so I guess that’s not really something I control. I can get snacks – from a limited selection. But I understand Good Sam’s is much better than the standard fair at other chemo centers. And I have to drink – and it’s not even the good stuff. Funky tasting water, apple juice, orange juice, coffee, cocoa or tea. Great selection, but never exactly what I want. I do like the fact that they let us have junk food – chips, pretzels, popcorn and my personal favorite Lorna Doone cookies. Just wish they’d let us have Italian Ice, but I guess that’s only for inpatients. I lived on that stuff when I was in the hospital.
Okay, so I get home and still have no control. I barely make it to bed and spend the next 4 days cursing my body aching in places I didn’t know could ache and wishing I could throw up, but thanks to the drugs my husband forces down me, prevent that. My sons have no mom for those 4 days. I’m just this shell that creeps from the bedroom to the bathroom to the kitchen and back to bed.
The biggest issue I had with my surgery was that I would have no control while I was under anesthesia. And while my oncologist is wonderful, he is a control freak. I am stuck on his schedule until March 8, 2013. Then I hope to bid adieu to the weekly visits to the Community Center. On March 9, 2013, I get control back. I can decide where I want to go and when I want to do it. And I will make those choices, after a nap no doubt.
Ultimately, I realize that while I struggle with the concept of control, I only have a limited amount. When this whole ordeal started on August 23rd, I put it in God’s hands. While I’ve tried to pull it back from Him, it never really leaves His capable hands. On those days when I’m tired and am running on low batteries, it’s God’s gentle hand on my back that steers me through until bedtime and allows me sleep. It’s God’s nudging that pushes me through the doors of the cancer center. After all, God blessed me with this life and it’s up to me to use this and all my other experiences to do His will. And I know it’s best if He’s in control.