Monday, we spent the day at the Cancer center. We needed to be educated to “choose” my husband’s next treatment plan. The whole idea- I find dumb. We are not doctors, how on earth are we supposed to choose? We didn’t even sleep at a Holiday Inn Express the night before.
They gave us several “equal” options. Basically, it’s literally choose your own poison-when it comes to chemo.
Overwhelmed by the choices- we took a break from the appointment to talk through, pray and decide.
It was a hard decision. Eventually we made it- then- returned to the oncologist’s office and scheduled his appointment to begin treatment. This involved much signing of consent forms and even more information. Specifics about potential side effects, common side effects and un common side effects.
There is something weird about chemo. (Well there’s a LOT that’s weird about it… but we’ll start here.) Or, maybe it’s just our response to the idea of chemo. Chemo? Is the ultimate denial buster. There is no more pretending.
Crap just got real. For our whole family.
Monday night was the beginning of pre- chemo meds (read: mega steroids) Tuesday was a long day of waiting and appointments. First with a Nurse educator who went over everything to expect and watch for, then- finally- the actual infusion.
Everyone responds differently both emotionally and physically to chemo. There’s really no way to predict what will happen to any one person. One of the things that can happen in the first few minutes is to have a reaction to the meds. The hospital is pretty firm about telling them if you feel anything “off” or different. If you do react- they have meds to counteract on hand and ready- so you can hopefully continue treatment- otherwise you need to start the decision making process all over.
We were pretty anxious about the risk of reaction.
Our chemo- to-do bags at our sides- (I don’t believe in being bored.) we took our respective seats. Kyle in the big comfy Chemo chair- (Heated WITH massage. He might have gloated and been a bit smug about that…) and me in the not so comfy but serviceable “driver/ companion chair” directly across from him. My job: to watch him like a hawk.
We had a great nurse. She found a good vein on the first poke- then ran the pre-chemo meds through without a glitch. We also had a great visit with the chaplain on site- and prayed and talked about God’s presence even here- in this mess.
By the time they actually started the chemo meds- we were messaging obnoxious things with good friends….(a great distraction- BTW. I highly recommend giggling about stupid things in the infusion center.)
However- about halfway through treatment- Kyle suddenly got a pseudo panicked look on his face. “I feel hot. I think I might be having a reaction.” He said it quietly – to me. I looked at him and he looked fine which is what i told him… (they’d said he’d turn beet red and we’d know it if it happened.) However- I am NOT the boss of the Cancer center- and THEY listen. within a few seconds his comfy chair was swarmed. 5 nurses and a doctor popped up from nowhere.
They immediately clamped off the infusion, and started peppering him with questions. “What do you feel?”
“Warm, kind of hot a little sweaty.” They readied the reaction cart and started opening the counteractive meds. At which point he got a funny look on his face. Kind of an “i’m either dying or, stupid.” look. I don’t know how else to describe it.
“Umm… wait a minute- is the heat on on the chair?” He sheepishly asked…..
“Yes- We’ve been pushing the buttons like 12 year olds playing in an elevator….” I responded (ish- I don’t actually remember what I said.)
“It could be the heated chair.” He said.
“Oh Lord…. can we turn off the chair and give him 60 seconds? I bet it’s the chair- because she looks fine.” I responded….
The entire staff waited with us…. tick tock…. tick tock…. he cooled down.
No- he wasn’t reacting. He forgot he was enjoying the heated massage……
Much a do about: nothing.
Within a couple of minutes his IV was running again and he finished up his treatment with some music playing and the heated chair turned : off.
We laughed about it all the way home. “You don’t kow the difference between an allergic reaction and a heated chair.” Is now our favorite line.
It was like a tornado drill…… we now know and trust that they really ARE watching (and listening) and ready for anything while you’re in those chairs.
Maybe next time, he won’t gloat so much about having the comfy chair…..justsayin.
So far the preventive side effect meds are doing their job. His particular chemo med doesn’t even cause baldness- just some thinning- if anything. It does however take some time for what ever side effects you’re going to have (if any) to set in…. we’re still in the waiting phase.
So far? So good. Plus- hilarious. I’m sure they’l be talking about us all week at U of M….. it was an epic chemo-moment.
Continued prayers appreciated- and YES Kyle gave me permission to share ethos story- because: duh. Funny. And we’re looking for 2 things in all of this mess- 1) God’s presence 2) humor. We found both at that first chemo appointment-
Even here- God is with us and holding us. And- quite possibly- laughing with us.
Dear Lord =please use this treatment to kill this cancer. And please continue to wrap your arms around us during this process. (Just not in an overly warm way… Kyle will freak, and so will the nurses- if you do…) Thank you Lord for the little reminders of lighthouses you placed there for us…..and for the pastor who encouraged us with just the right words….words you’d already spoken to our hearts about storms and facing them with God….I love you lord- even here- amen.
Luke 8:23-25New International Version (NIV)
23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”