Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day -5 (Etoposide and Cytarbine x2)

My mom and I made the early morning over one-hour trek to Yale to arrive for my 7:30am appointment. I was quite grumpy in the morning and pushed leaving to the last possible minute. My mom had stayed over the night before so she didn't have to wake up with the roosters to get to my house and pick me up in time. Reminiscent of those days when I'd roll over and whine not wanting to go to middle school, she got my butt out of bed and into the car.
We made it on time and I was hooked up with chemo dripping before we knew it. I've received the Etoposide before, both with the pediatric ICE regimen as well as the DI-CEP, so I knew that I could tolerate it without a problem. The Cytarabine was new to me, but went down fine as well. In total the drugs dripped for about three hours after I received the usual steroids and powerful anti-nausea meds (Zofran is amazing.)

I dozed off under one of the heated blankets with the butt warmer cranking on the heated chemo recliner and woke up to gray haired, furrow browed older man asking my mom and I if we would like him to paint for us. What a pleasant thing to wake up to, I thought.

He told us about his life. How he used to be a potter for 25 years until the heavy lifting and tedium of the kiln got to be too much for him in his older age. Before that he worked at the BBC in London for 22 years. At the age of 22 he approached them and created his own position in the company. He was nothing short of fascinating.

He gave me the choice of a waterfall, beach scene, a cliff, a long rocky walk with a barn and other natural landscapes. I told him that I loved the beach so we decided on a deserted beach scene with a tree in the foreground and a little row boat tied up. His voice was so gentle and soothing – slow with a fading British accent. He walked my mom and I through his painting process as he laid out his brushes and the four colors he would use, drew the horizon line and then proceeded to magically turn a blank piece of watercolor paper into a magnificent work of art in just 20 minutes. We learned how to spin the brush bristles to make for a perfect tool to draw the straight lines of the branches and the row boat. We learned how to make clouds in the sky by soaking up the colors with a sponge. And now I have an original signed piece of art from a very talented man caring enough to volunteer his time to paint for those stuck passing the time with an IV pole.

We drove back home and both my mom and I crashed for a long nap and then it was time for more chemo. The visiting nurse showed up at the house around 7pm and the whole shebang was repeated. I was quite wary about what it would be like to have a stranger in our house and to bring the "cancer patient world" into my home sanctuary, but I tell you, it is much preferred over being in the hospital or the clinic. I was able to curl up on my own couch with Sammy at my feet, watch DVRed TV, hang with Craig, and use my own bathroom. Once I was set up the nurse really kept to herself. She played some Jeopardy with us but otherwise just did her paperwork and caught up on her own things. This was good as Craig, Sammy and I all fell asleep on the couch while the final hour-long bag dripped ... we weren't very entertaining hosts, but she told us to get comfortable!

All was done a little after 11 p.m. and it was certainly glorious to be able to just walk up the stairs to my own bed rather than get back into the car for a long drive home – or worse, face a night trying to sleep in the hospital with all the beeping machines and constant vitals checks.


  1. uggg, two infusions in one day, that's a lot. I have a home health nurse that comes every 4wks and I get a 3hr Remicade infusion. My nurse and I have become great friends, we watch movies together or SITC or just gossip about our lives. It's been 2yrs since I started and I'm thankful to have the same nurse every infusion. I've often wondered what going in to an infusion center would be like and have never tried it. I'm glad that you are doing better and I'm praying for you.

  2. Wow! How awesome for the artist to use his gifts for the pure joy of others. I am sure you will cherish that picture.
    Thinking of you Karin, always. And keeping you in my prayers.
    You go girl!