When you're going through chemo, conventional time stops. No longer does the calendar run Monday thru Sunday. Now it runs Treatment Day to Treatment Day, and the individual days no longer revolve around work & childcare, dinner prep & clean-up, bathtime & bedtime stories. Now, the day orbits around around the nap, the shower, the playdate, the dinner drop-off -- if you're very lucky, a Netflix or two, a blog post, a few paragraphs read in a novel...
~~ Journey to Cancer-Free: Treatment Journal Week 4 ~~
Treatment Day: Taxol, Herceptin chemotherapy. Chemo Buddy: Michelle. Read: Real Simple. Ate: Broth, crackers, almonds & raisins, apple, nori. Water: 4 bottles. Bathroom trips while hooked up to the IV: 4. Time at the doctor's office: 5 hours. Learn that the tumor is shrinking! After midnight, I take an anti-anxiety pill to combat steroidy high and get to sleep.
Day 1 post-treatment: Temp: 98.3. Slept 4 1/2 hours. Up alone for several hours, I do a little yoga & weights and spend a few hours working. Playdate canceled, but feeling steroidy enough to skip the nap and hang with Nia. We walk to church parking lot so she can ride her bike. Joe works late; Nia and I do a dinner picnic on the front deck: A friend surprises us with veggie sushi take-out. Detoxing, I drink 100+ ounces of water.
Day 2 post-treatment: Temp: 97.9. Slept better. Make whole wheat strawberry muffins using left over oatmeal. Read 2 versions of Stone Soup to Nia and then cat nap in the sun while she makes her own stone soup. Forget to put on a hat and sunburn my part line. (Later, I'll slather on sunscreen 4 different times.) In the evening, Nia goes with Pam to the Dance Week festivities downtown and comes home around 10p. Joe & I watch baseball. Later, amped up, Nia is up till midnight. Finally she falls asleep with a lavender oil foot massage. I have a headache & heartburn.
Day 3 post-treatment: Temp: 98.5. To remind me that my body was pumped full of chemicals, my face breaks out in zits. My nose is dry and bleeds. The headache lingers. Walk in the morning with friends, then check out a preschool with Joe & Nia in the afternoon. At the preschool, I become exhausted; fantasize about laying down in the doll bed. In my own bed, I sleep almost immediately for an hour and a half before dinner. Out-of-town family arrives with their dog. Nia is occupied. Slight nausea. Watched "The Break-Up" in bed till sleep arrived.
Day 4 post-treatment: Temp: 97.3. Refreshed (and strangely full of energy), wake up and do yoga & weights. Buy 2 wigs online. Nia wakes up at 9:30a (got to get this kid on an earlier schedule!). Yogurt & pancakes for Nia & Tiger, fried egg & broccoli for me. Earth Day is hot at 10a. Handfuls of hair come out in the shower. I think of the young woman in the Chemo Lounge who told me she didn't shower for 5 days because she knew it would all come out, and her wig hadn't arrived yet. I can't stand the thought of all this dead, loose hair on my head. I shower almost compulsively. In the afternoon, I sip lemonade in the breezy backyard with an old friend, and later a new friend comes by to give me a massage. And I think: Maybe I can do this chemo thing afterall...
Day 5 post-treatment: Temp: 97.6. Foggy morning; I wake up sore-throat-ish. Joe leaves for a long work day. Recording my temperature in my little log, it occurs to me that I've crossed the hump in the treatment week. This week went way better than last week! While Nia sleeps in, I read an article in the NY Times about pillow fort construction basics and a food blog post about homemade cheese crackers. I start to daydream about our upcoming Escape from Cancerland... I take Nia and Tiger to the Farmers' Market and sit while while Nia writes her own name on the wait list and then waits through 7 kids for her turn at the face paint. Later, I listen to Mike Birbiglia and Joss Whedon on This American Life and it is like a mini vacation.
Day 6 post-treatment: Temp: 98.1. Neupogen Day. Nia crawls into bed next to me at 5:30a and I'm wide awake. Scalp prickling, I have to get up because it seems like the pillow is covered in loose hair. Later I see Kalli Cat sleeping on my pillow. Maybe it wasn't my hair that was tickling my nose. At the doctor's office I get the horrible (read: painful) Neupogen shot even though my WBC levels are ok. No guarantee they'd be ok come treatment day, the doc says. Running 45 minutes behind schedule with a waiting room overflowing with patients -- my arm pays the price when he is rushed. I nap till Joe leaves for work; before dinner, Nia and I plant wildflower seeds to be seen from the window.
Day 7 post-treatment: Temp: 97.6. Escape from Cancerland Day! Only it isn't as escape-y as I'd like. Sore throat-ish, runny nose-ish, tired. Nia goes to a morning dance class with Pam and I have a distracting visit and walk with an old friend and a brand new baby-friend. Highlight: my new wigs arrive. One is pink, the other is teal. In the afternoon, when I'm nap-ish, Nia cries on my lap and asks, If you don't rest, will you die? I try to explain, but she is sad and says she wishes I didn't have cancer. Pam takes her to the Natural History Museum. When they return, Nia and I build a sheet-and-pillow fort, the likes of which our house has never seen: it takes up the whole living room. She hugs me repeatedly and tells me how happy she is. My heart sings. Escape from Cancerland achieved.
Day 8 post-treatment: Treatment Day; re-set the calendar.