Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sweet and Salty Paradise

We had the "big talk" today with my oncologist, although it didn't feel like a "big talk" at all. I got acquainted with Hartford Hospital's Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center in Avon, the place that I'll be going every week to soak in my chemo infusions and get my vitals checked and blood drawn throughout the process. It's like a little oasis surrounded by the beautiful nature of Avon. There was hardly anyone in the parking lot. Things were so quiet and the building looks more like a hotel lobby inside than a medical facility (it hasn't even been open a year). There were free refreshments, including a K-cup coffee maker and a super friendly receptionist and lab tech who Craig and I made instant friends with. The lab tech insisted that I am not allowed to cook, clean, do dishes or laundry tonight since taking blood can be very traumatic and that Craig would definitely have to take me out for dinner tonight, with ice cream prescribed. The place is as perfect as a place can be that'll I'll have to be at for several hours at a time over the next few months. 

The group chemo "lounges" have cushy, mismatched Lazy Boy reclining chairs, each with a corresponding IV stand where you'd normally see a reading lamp or an end table. There are shelves of well-worn paperbacks and curly-paged magazines. I wonder if I'll end up picking a favorite chair, or if I'll try out a different one during each of my 12 infusions? Some were pleather, some gaudy plaids, others varieties of faded gray, itchy looking fabric. Not exactly my decor of choice, but much less intimidating than the harsh plastic chairs I had been picturing in my head. I wonder who will be in the Lazy Boys beside me on each visit. 

My oncologist is positive about my prognosis and confident that I'll do well with the chemo, though he was careful to say that it won't be a breeze. We talked about side effects, scheduling, the weekly white blood cell and vital checks we'll need to do, which days I'll likely be strongest, which days I'll likely be weakest, the anti-naseau drugs he'll load me up with and other cancer-treatment-prep issues. Most notably, that I should eat some cheeseburgers and potato chips as I'm a bit anemic and my blood pressure is lower than it should be. Salty treats and burgers it is! He told me that my diet is too healthy and it'd be good to bulk up a bit. Don't hear that every day. 

It feels good to have a plan, to hear what I can expect and to now be able to prepare at least my mind for it, before my body succumbs to the ABVD chemo cocktail. He is hesitant to push my treatment off for fertility safeguards as I am at least at Stage 2 of the 4 Hodgkin's stages (though we'll know more after my PET Scan tomorrow.) Ideally, he'd like to set up my first infusion for this Friday (as in two days from now ... ) but he wants to explore every option for us and couldn't have been more empathetic to our situation, continually muttering ... "this is a tough one, yes, this is a tough one ... ." He'll be calling his cancer cohorts at Yale and other Hodgkin's experts for some insight and further opinions on if it's safe to delay my treatment or if they have any other thoughts on ways to preserve fertility without risking my health. So the conundrum continues. I guess this is what the saying "stuck between a rock and a hard place" means. 

In the meantime, I felt really strong today and had a day full of lots of laughs and positive vibes. I even rocked out to Hanson's "MMMM Bop" randomly playing on the radio---how can that not put you in a good mood? Took a solid nap on my anti-gravity chair in the warm sun on the porch and soaked it all in. Ate some fantastic salmon croquettes from my former director and a surprise casserole of mac & cheese dropped off from another former co-worker. My stomach feels very loved! To top it all off? We took Sammy to my favorite place: Tulmeadow Farm for ice cream. A scoop of kahlua and a scoop of mocha chocolate chip and the cancer was forgotten, for a sweet while at least. 

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