It’s that time again: Chemo Day #4.
Tomorrow the girls will go to Phenom’s house while I work out, prep healthy veggies and meals for the next few days, tidy up, run laundry, and pay some bills. At lunchtime, I will leave for Dr. Wonderful’s office. The nurses will check my weight, blood pressure, temperature. I’ll see Dr. Wonderful and/or his nurse practitioner. I will bring a bouquet of five dollar gift cards for the staff break room. I like this office, these people, the hope and kindness they offer.
I will enter the Chemo Room, and choose a recliner. Sometimes the room has an enthusiastic murmur of conversation running through it; other times it is still and sleepy. Always, I feel God’s presence there. One of the nurses will access my port, draw blood, and run it to make sure that my blood counts have rebounded appropriately. I’ll drink green tea and read while I wait. I will look around at the other patients, praying for them, observing fashionable and brave headwear, listening to their words. Hopefully, my blood counts will be strong, and I will get saline, steroids, and anti-nausea meds through my port IV. Oddly, each puts a different flavor in my mouth when they are pushed or dripped in through the IV. It takes over an hour for them to drip in, and I will pray, read, text, write. It is still strange to sit down and, for lack of a better word, relax for three hours in the middle of the day. Normally, I am always on the move. Perhaps, if the mood is right, I will talk to other patients. I pray for each drug as it drips in: that it would reach it’s target, stop the side effects, and help me be strong.
After the meds finish, I’ll take Tylenol because I’ve learned that when the first chemo drug goes in, I get a dull headache. I’m practiced at this regimin now. I know what to expect and I am visiting with old friends. I pray for the drug as it runs: that it would target the cancer and leave the healthy cells alone. At some point, I will ask for a warm blanket because they are just so delicious and the Chemo Room is always cold.
Finally, the last drug is not dripped in. It is brought out from the back in a gigantic syringe. It is about eight ounces of bright red liquid. The nurse who delivers it has to wear a special gown and gloves to protect her from the toxicity. My mouth has so many blood vessels and capillaries that I am susceptible to mouth sores as this drug enters my body (the drugs can eat through the walls of the vessels and cause bleeding into the mouth.) She hands me a cup of ice so that I can chew on it and constrict the blood vessels in my mouth to avoid the sores. And then, the gowned nurse, while protecting herself, injects the chemo drug into me. I keep ice in my mouth for the eight minutes it takes to empty the syringe. It’s like being at the dentist where you are in close proximity to someone but conversing is impossible. I watch the red liquid snaking through the IV lines and I pray that it would spare my healthy cells and kill every. last. cancer. cell. Once the syringe is empty, the nurse runs some more saline. And then, I am done. The port access is removed, I pack up my things, I say good-bye. My job for the day is done.
The drugs, however, they keep working: they course through my veins; they wreak havoc on a microscopic level. Bwahaha cancer! Die!
I will go home, rushing against the traffic to get to my girls. I will hear of the magical adventures they had with Phenom. I will be grateful and joyful. We will pull into our garage, past the lawn that we did not mow ourselves, into our house that we did not clean ourselves, to eat a dinner that we did not prepare ourselves. Friends are taking care of all of those needs. We are so blessed. We four will breathe and rest and laugh together. I will fall asleep visualizing the fury that hath been released upon the enemy. It is well with my soul.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. –Psalm 23