Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day - 3 and Day -2 (Etoposide and Cytarabine x2)

The idea of a nurse showing up to administer drugs became old hat very quickly. Even Sammy did well with it. She didn’t give any of the four nurses that we had over any trouble. Just some curious sniffing then she let them be. She was also dainty and respectful around my IV line so there wasn’t concern that a quick jolt would rip the needle out of my chest.

Last Saturday morning (Day -3) Chatty was back, but a little quieter after she had already divulged her life story the day before. In fairness, she was very nice, just a little – different. And that’s what makes the world go round, right? I especially liked her on this morning because she allowed me to receive my chemo out under the sun umbrella on my front porch where I played music and caught up on things. She perched herself inside watching me through the dining room windows and would occasionally come over for a chat and a vitals check. We shared some laughs as Craig bounced around doing yardwork.

I felt fine from the chemo. Craig, Sammy and I took a nice hike further enjoying the summer-like weather and even made a trip to the ol’ Home Depot. I did some yoga stretches then indulged in a cat nap.

By 7pm that night she was back and all worked out perfectly as Craig and I had rented “The Blindside.” Well, Chatty had never seen this and was delighted. As much as we offered for her to come sit on the couch and watch it with us, she sat in the kitchen “so she could pretend to work on her paperwork” though she chimed in with us throughout the movie, eyes glued. She told us what a bad procrastinator she is and we apologized for taking her away from her work. All-in-all it was a good Saturday night.

Sunday (Day -2) came and it meant not only the last day of home chemo, but also that I’d only be receiving one drug twice that day, the Cytarabine. This cut the drug dripping time from 4 to 1 ½ hours, which was a great way to end the week. The short time periods gave us a longer window of freedom. This was good because the exhaustion of nighttime/morningtime chemo was really starting to take its toll and my body felt inflated like a cartoon character from all the fluids – sausage legs, cankles and all.

We did a shorter walk; this time on the flat grounds of the neighborhood streets as my joints were really starting to tighten and swell, but I knew that it was important to move my body every day that I possibly could. The doctors and nurses … and Ethan Zohn (Survivor winner and fellow stem cell warrior)… had told me that the more I move, the better, and I’m taking that to heart.

I was thrilled that I had the strength and that the timing worked for Craig and me to make it to celebrate my former roommate/wonderful friend Laura’s UHa graduation with her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a fantastic Elbow Room lunch in our old West Hartford Center stomping grounds. Her family had flown up from Miami and other close friends had made the flights and drives. It was great to catch up and to witness such a much-deserved accomplishment for her.

But before the chemo clock struck we had to whisk out of there to be back to meet the last visiting nurse. Craig had to run some errands so it was just her and me. As a precaution Craig and I set up a code text to send if things got uncomfortable.

Well, it was quite the opposite. I was enthralled by her. She was in her thirties, fiery red wavy hair and lots of freckles. She was petite and had the build of a modern dancer. However, she hobbled around locked tight in a knee brace from recent ACL surgery. She told me how she just couldn’t stand working so she bribed people to drive her to her home visits. I could relate. We had an immediate rapport and a very comfortable couple of hours together. She recounted some stories of her work as a pediatric oncology nurse and shared some woes about also being denied short-term disability pay because of a merger loophole. We talked about our iPhones and about the decorations in our houses then we settled in to watch Trump’s Miss USA contest – always entertaining – remarking at the choices of dresses and the oodles of makeup. I was maybe even a little bit sad when I heard the IV pump beep meaning that her company would be ending.

But that faded quickly when it set in that I had just one more final day of the BEAM regimen and that it would hopefully conclude chemotherapy for the rest. of. my. life.

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