Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The First Chemo

The first chemo session isn't so bad and leaves you with the impression that you are pretty tough, not like the "other" patients , these really old zombie people in the chairs next to you. Ours is a brand new state of the art, over a $100,000,000 dollar Hospital and I am assuming that made me lucky although I really felt lost. The parking garage is five stories with elevators accessable to three of them and then, two different elevators leading to walkways to three different buildings all looking pretty much the same. I felt caught up in a Franz Kafka Novel. I had done something horribly wrong and I had no idea what it was, exactly where I was supposed to go or who to see. Soon enough I would become familiar with it all.
The Chemo waiting room is huge. Huge is such a tiny word for such a large waiting room.
It could hold a hundred people but in all honesty I never saw more than thirty there. Except for me, down to the last one, these were all old people, hairless every single one, thin and frail, even the children were very old. I was in a concentration camp.
You always check in first and I always felt as if I were interrupting something important when I did. Paper work is critical to this process, identities, insurance forms, blood work. Although I wanted it so badly, never was I told that I was in the wrong place! I really wanted to wake up from this dream.
It is all very efficient, ike going through a cafeteria line, "no thank you, I would not like that today." I think I have had my blood checked a thousand times and it is truely painless. The needles are sharp and the nurses are gentle, quick and precise. Modern medicine is pretty amazing, five minutes later they know everything about you. There are no secrets you can keep from these doctors. They knew things about me I couldn't even pronounce.
Next is the doctor's visit and that takes less than fifteen minutes and he is on the computer most of this time, checking statistics adjusting the recipe for this poison you are about to get.
In later sessions, as you hobble in because you are now part of the walking dead, he will tell you that everything is going all right, your good white immune cells, those that fight desease and keep you healthy are almost all destroyed. He is happy with that.
Next you are lead into the chemo room where you will find a very happy, cheerful, positive, and upbeat group of nurses. I am sure they are all on drugs, except for me all their patients are on the edge of life, that frail twilight period. However they do it, my hat is off to the nurses, it would be insufferable without them and they are always so damned happy to see you are still alive!
My chemo sessions took about four hours, some were injected pretty quickly and others were
dripped into me slowly and none of them were painful. Each time the nurses wore their haz-mat suits, this was pretty dangerous stuff. I had twelve of these cocktails, two a month for six months and for the first six I had no symptoms whatsoever! I gained eight pounds and didn't lose a strand of hair, continued working, doing my "art thing" and grew tomatoes in my garden.
I was begining to wonder what the big deal was and thinking deep inside that maybe this wasn't working at all?


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  2. Jerry,, reading your experience with cancer is not easy for me ... but I am reading it... I'm sorry you had to go through so much ,, but the end result is worth it... I have you here as a friend and that would not have been the case if you hadn't gone through all this horror.
    I took care of my wonderful Dad who had multimyeloma . it attacks the blood platlets I believe..? He was my hero, my best friend, welding was his business also. but not the artsy kind... He hung on the last 4 years only for me , he told me that .I fed him, took care of him ... and then he was gone... It takes a lot of courage to go through what you did and I'm glad you made that courage and hope to have you here as my friend for a long, long time. BJ

  3. Pamo, thank you for the compliment! I don't mean it to be all bleak, there were funny moments too.
    It is difficult to find a graceful way to die, or even get sick. The whole thing is inconvenient
    and always leaves a mess for someone!
    Barbra, yes I am happy to still be breathing air and attribute it mostly to luck and not willing to let go! and Yes, BFF, for sure!