I Gotta Go Pee
Getting to sleep in until 6:30am, what a treat. Okay, maybe treat isn’t the right word, but it certainly beats the 4 a.m. buzzer that I would normally be beckoning to for work -- pre-treatment. This was to be Day One on the journey to better health.
The pre-chemo checkup, 2 days prior, finalized everything for us. We were briefed on what to expect and what to bring. A team of oncology specialists suggested it can take 2 to maybe 6 hours, not the treatment itself, just the process.
So, following the notes they provided, we assembled our arsenal of supplies; snacks, water, reading material, layered clothing, medications and of course laptop (okay I added that one, but they did say, DVD, iPod etc.). We were new to this; how many snacks? A light meal? ...munchies?....not sure really. Everyone did insist that food was important. So, we settled for apples, granola and some organic crackers. (More on the organic saga at another time.)
As we headed for the front door, I could not help but think, with stuffed knapsacks and shoulder bags, it was as if we were packing for a friggin' day to the beach. The only things missing; an umbrella, sun block and blowup beach ball.
Upon arriving at Princess Margaret, we made our way to the daycare chemo centre. It felt almost like a deli/bingo hall -- not the decor or the staff -- more the process. I really didn't know what to expect. There we were, a large group of people, all with laminated, numbered cards in hand -- you grab a card and wait to be called. Although, truth be told, it’s very organized. There's even an electronic pager, should you decide to wander. I gathered from sitting in the waiting area that the pager was for the seasoned chemo clan. I say that respectfully. There are a lot of very, very brave people here. They knew the drill, and I could learn a lot from them.
The other thing you immediately absorb is that, indeed, you are NOT ALONE. All ages, all races, all sizes, all different cancers… this disease is not fussy.
“Number 21”…..bingo, that’s me. Moments later, after officially checking in, we were very kindly escorted inside the chemo ward. Our nurse was exceptional. She was friendly, warm, caring. After briefing the protocol that would be administered, the process began. 4 separate drugs in liquid form -- custom-dosed, no less, pour moi. They prepare it based on your weight, height and condition.
No real pain during the process, but with the meds being mixed in with a saline solution, within 20 minutes my bladder could take no more. I felt like a kid. "I gotta go pee -- sorry.” I felt bad. I was all hooked up and all, but our nurse was unphased -- no problem she said, and happily rolled out the IV trolley and pointed to door number 1. Upon my return, I settled in and began to poke around the chemo rations. The crackers were a nice treat, at first.
I had been warned, during more than one of my many Google sessions, weeks before, not to eat any of my favorite foods during chemo. The nauseous feeling you will inevitably get will forever be married to the food you eat on the day of your treatment. I didn’t want to take too much of a chance, so I wagered on the crackers. Now, LET ME TELL YOU, IT’S TRUE. 6 hours later, and to this very moment, I cannot even look at the box of those crackers without feeling sick. ...must STOP typing about it now…eeeeckkkk.
Changing the topic... a while later, a little beep signaled that the last drug was empty and I was, in fact, finished for the day. 3.5 hours - not bad I figured, especially considering the lady next to me was scheduled for a full eight hours. (At least that's what I gathered from a broken English/Japanese conversation her very friendly husband had on a cell phone.)
That was yet another subtle reminder, I am lucky. I was going home, and felt relatively okay. Yes a little tired, anxious, and wee bit nauseous, but the pre-meds (which is key) should take care of that. Tomorrow night, however, might be whole a new experience. I will let you know, but first things first… it’s time to go pee again before we drive home.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.