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Chemo-versary Date

Over these couple of days before treatment started, I was starting to get super nervous. I mean, there is no shortage of horror stories to go around for what a friend of a friends cousin’s brother’s dog sitter’s grandma experienced while going through chemotherapy. What I’ve learned is that every experience is different. And there are so many drugs that fall into the chemotherapy description. And there are so many things they can do to prevent side effects. But before I learned all that, this couple of days break before treatment began was a flood of emotions, anxiety, and just trying to soak in family time while I still felt ok with the exception of the pain from the port being placed.

Amidst the ups and downs, we were able to take our first trip out as a family to run errands.  That Little Girl was in her car seat next to That Baby and it was a big deal to one of the them and the other slept right thorugh it. Seems like no big deal. Honestly, it was not something I thought about until we all got in the car and it was one of those moments. That Little Girl was quite excited, and it was adorable. So we completed a couple errands, including our first trip as a family to Target. A huge milestone for us, obviously, as sometimes I think we should just move in next door to it since we practically live there between prescriptions, diapers, formula, and all the other odds and ends we seem to “need” endlessly.

So other than the fact that I was not able to pick up or carry anything or anyone during this time, both because of the port and having just given birth, we tried to just have a somewhat normal couple of days for a family with a newborn. I was pretty much one of the kids for those helping out That Family. And I pumped. And I pumped. And I pumped to stock the fridge and freezer as best as I could. Once chemotherapy began, it was time to stop the flow and I wanted as much ready for That Baby as I could possibly make.

My first chemotherapy treatment included an office appointment before going down to the infusion area. The office visit was not helpful to calm my nerves. The provider I saw told me that for the next six months, I wouldn’t be able to leave the house for risk of germs, would be lucky to avoid the hospital for various reasons (including infection, dehydration, and other common issues), and basically scared the living poop out of me. Then asked me why I was shaking and prescribed something extra to help calm my nerves when we got down to the infusion center. Looking back, I get it. I understand her intention, but that day, it was just a very big whoa. And then we had time to go grab a quick lunch in the hospital cafeteria before my treatment was scheduled.

Have I mentioned my first treatment also happened to fall on our wedding anniversary. And they had reserved us a “private bedroom” for my treatment. So a meal just the two of us, six hours “alone” (or so we anticipated), and a private room. I mean, how many parents of newborns get that so soon. I joked it was a date with all the doctors and nurses and thanked them for helping us celebrate. When we arrived where I would receive treatment, I loved the nurse I was assigned immediately. To this day, she is one of my favorites. First they had to access my port. I was still quite sensitive between the procedure and the lactating and she had a helper and they did a great job for this nervous nelly. It was such a relief just to do that the first time and get it over with. Then they gave me some pre-meds to counteract the side effects of the chemotherapy medications. Some were prescription that I normally would take before arriving and some were only given by them.

In the midst of all this my nurse navigator came to check on me. A nutritionist I had requested to meet had arrived (another post for another day). There are volunteers that come around to the patients and bring crackers, water, tea, and at lunchtime even a light lunch. And most importantly, as the infusion center I go to can be extremely cold, warm blankets and pillows! Plus there are always two nurses to check the medications plus me to verify they have my name. Plus That Guy. It was not that big of a room. So much for some down time! It was quite crowded and overwhelming. After the first drug was “pushed”, they had us watch a video about chemotherapy. So then we had a little cart with a DVD player in the room as well. To be honest, by this point, a lot of the pre-meds had kicked in and I was mostly asleep. Luckily, I had That Guy to pay attention to what was important. A date, however, might have been had since there was a lunch followed by graham crackers and a movie.

The date was pretty unremarkable though, which is a good thing in this case. I didn’t experience any reactions during the chemotherapy other than just feeling icky and spacey which is more likely from the pre-meds covering all the much worse effects the actual drugs would have made me feel without them. My feisty nurse reviewed the “rules” for us when she heard it was our anniversary. I explained after just having a baby and all these drugs going through my body, those rules could be reviewed another time. I have since heard her go over the rules with other couples and it’s like a little jingle she has made up and, seriously, it is awesome since no one else talks about these things and when you google it, all sorts of different answers are available.

Aside from being feisty, hearing it was our anniversary early in the afternoon made the nurse honestly tear up. These ladies see it all and she admitted she had been there for many years. She held my hand and told me she was sorry all this was happening to me, us really. Then she snickered and told That Guy that she was sorry, but I was going to be a pain in the butt for him for many years to come. I sure plan to prove her right!

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Comments

  1. Happy to send u the most obnoxious snuggie I can find for the infusion center.. just say the word!

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