Well, I am sorry to have to report this to you, but it turns out that Chemotherapy sucks.
Why, oh why am I always surprised at how hideous medicine for cancer is? I can't remember for one minute how perfectly awful every single treatment turns out to be, and always show up dressed for a cruise and packing an eyebrow pencil. But they are all monstrous, clearly designed in a Transylvanian laboratory by some scientist with crazy eyes who has been kicked out of every legitimate institution and is assisted only by an abhorrent little pervert who calls him master. Chemo especially. Don't tell me that hideous drip came from any normal person. How did I not think that this was going to be terrible? I know that someday in the future, they are going to look back on Angelie Jolie cutting off her own breasts with the same horror with which we view Aztecs throwing virgins off of pyramids. When faced with chemotherapy, the people of the future are going to be all
"They did what?"
I am frequently accused of heroism and bravery, as though some baby was going to be rescued from a burning building if I say Yes! to this surgery or that chemo treatment. The fact is, I probably would take a chemo treatment to save a baby from a fire, but up to this point, well, nobody has asked me if I'd like to choose.
I'm sure I would save the baby. Pretty sure. But the point is, I'm not brave. Just obedient. And I have the long term memory of a gnat. I keep forgetting that my obedience is going to result in feeling bad in ways that I have never imagined. Not that there's a lot of choice.
I mean, I guess that all these Doctors kind of give me a option. Do the treatment or die are usually the selections. But I approach these various forms of torture with such a positive attitude! When I know it's going to suck!I learn nothing from previous experience. I keep telling myself things like "Anybody can do anything four times" or "How bad can it be?" Oh brother. I keep forgetting!
Did I learn nothing from that surgery, where I thought I was going to be given some good drugs for a couple of days wearing my cute pajamas and then go home? Did I learn nothing, when they bolted my head to a conveyer belt, worse than the scariest movie ever made? And then microwaved me on high for twenty minutes? Did I forget about the feeding tube in my nose and that I wasn't allowed to have so much as a sip of water for weeks? I learned nothing. And now this.
I had a little chemo lite during radiation, back when I was going to the opulent private operation run by Dr. Carlos, or Dr. McSueño, as we call him around here. It's a bit different at the National Health system, I don't mind telling you. At Dr.McSueño's they had individual booths outfitted with the most comfortable loungers I have ever draped myself over, and equally comfortable chairs and tables for visitors in case you wanted to offer cocktails, along with individual flat screen tv's.
My new set up is very different indeed. The room is tiny, and they fit two chairs in there. In order to make it work, the chairs face each other, and you sit sort of knee to knee with your cube mate. The nurse has to edge in sideways every time the IV alarm goes off--which it did about a dozen times, and which always turned out to be me, forgetting to keep the hand receiving the IV motionless. Trying to use my eyebrow pencil.
My roommates rotated during my session, which was kind of fun. The first was a skate park type with a spray of hair that rose into a magnificent curl over the shaved sides of his head. He left half way through my session and was immediately replaced with an old cowboy, skin like hide and a fine old hat and wranglers. Neither roommate was disposed to conversation
I was fooled for about eight hours after the actual chemo session that for once treatment was not going to be a grisly nightmare.I even bragged to my friends that they had fed me so well on homemade bone broth that I was going to sail through it. I was wrong. I started getting sick that evening and stayed sick until the middle of the next afternoon. I was raised too delicately to talk about what I mean by sick in this case, but it wasn't pleasant.
The worst, though, is that it has messed with me emotionally, and has been relentless in the battering of my mood. I got over the physical, flu like symptoms in less than a day, and I felt I might be safe. For a minute. But there's something about being back in treatment that makes it hard to forget what's been happening to me.
This is the fourth day since I shared chemo time with that old cowboy, and I feel dejected, and insecure, even though everything is good and I'm getting ready to go see my family. I feel afraid, and my stupid doctor told me I have to wear a mask on the plane, so I'm going to be that person, and instead of picking out an awesome capsule wardrobe which can make twenty five outfits out of five pieces, I'm trying to figure out if I've got all my medications.
Don't tell me to keep my chin up! Oh, yes, I know you were going to. I know you were going to tell me to be grateful and remember how lucky I am, to count my blessings and think of the good things. I am doing those things, I really am, and I have moments when I remember that I can eat and drink like a normal human being without wearing a maxi pad tied around my neck, so wearing a mask is not that big a deal. Sometimes I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
But not when I'm picking out turbans to wear because I'm going to go bald.
Well, I can tell you that her talent doesn’t come from her formal education. She dropped out of that as soon as she could, so she didn’t have many people telling her what she couldn’t do or say, and trying to squeeze her onto some shape she couldn’t fit in, which she wouldn’t have done anyway — but her going her own way saved everyone a lot of hassle. But she was a voracious reader, and a discerning one. And she was always happily juiced up. She would have been outrageous if she weren’t so good natured. That’s what gets her through the tough ones like this. She’s a lot like her mother, come to think of it. As one of my sons said, “I’m not sure I could even be a fraction of that upbeat, but that’s her and I’m me.”