Monday, November 23, 2009

Round 8

I have now completed eight out of fourteen scheduled rounds of chemo. It feels like I've been doing it forever, and it still feels like I have an eternity yet to finish, but at least I'm officially past the halfway point.

Five days of chemo is always such a long time. When they finally give me permission to leave and deaccess my port, I usually make one last trip to the bathroom before I go. If for no other reason, I want to make sure that the ten hours of fluids I've just received don't end up on the seat of the car. But I'm always bothered by the fact that I don't recognize myself. My face is always swollen and red, my body looks inflated with air, and I'm always so exhausted.

It really is surprising to me that sitting in a hospital bed for five days can be so exhausting, but it makes more sense when you consider that the nurses don't allow you any semblance of a normal sleeping pattern. The last two days, chemo went up at 8am and 4am respectively, so you can imagine how anxious I was yesterday when chemo ended at 6am and I could do nothing but wait to finish the fluids and go home.

I also find it interesting that my simple, well-planned, organized pill schedule is so terribly butchered by nurses who have the schedule all written out in front of them. I love my nurses, don't get me wrong, but I don't always get my familiar nurses and sometimes it's like the nurse I get pays no mind to the schedule at all; they'd rather just stroll in with whatever they find in their hands at that particular moment and leave me wondering if it's what they say it is and why I'm taking it at that time. Then, when I finally leave the hospital, it's hard to remember what I was given at what time and then determine how to get back on track.

It's flu season now, too, so the hospital is packed with patients from the E.R. who need an isolation room. That means there's no chance of me getting a single, even last week when I was the only patient to be admitted for chemo that day. In fact, not only was I put in a four-person room (with a fifth behind a makeshift curtain about fifteen feet from the foot of my bed; an infant, no less, who was incapable of making human noises but rather screamed exclusively like a velociraptor), but it still took almost seven hours to get from the clinic to the hospital room.

I realize that it's a hospital and that they're doing their best with limited resources, but it seems dangerous to me to put flu patients on the same floor as cancer patients. I'm not sure what was ailing the raptor baby, though I'm suspicious that it was a virus, but even if you assume that all of the flu patients were kept in isolation rooms, we're all still being treated by the same nurses and that makes me a little nervous. Clearly, I'd never think of refusing treatment to a flu patient in need of isolation, but it's obvious that things are getting more difficult for the hospital to manage around this time of year. Unfortunately for me, all I want is to show up and get what I need, then get out of there with as little a headache as possible.

The patient in the bed next to me was a young kid with a ruptured appendix. It seemed pretty rough, but I'm glad they were able to remove the organ and all of the poison before it was too late.

That said, I'm not really looking to make friends with other patients' family when I'm anxiously awaiting five days to go by. Still, each morning, this kid's dad was nice enough to come over to my bedside soon after I had first opened my eyes to offer me his newspaper. Aside from the shock of waking up to an unfamiliar man's face, I really didn't want to touch his newspaper. I wanted to stay as far away from that scene behind that curtain as possible, for fear that some abdominal fluid had escaped the child and smeared itself onto his father's newspaper.

So, each time he appeared, he promised to bring me his copy of the paper when I was more awake (he could never just wait until I was really awake), and each time I graciously declined and closed my eyes again. One day, my nurse even came in and said to me, "That man wanted me to tell you that you can borrow his newspaper whenever you're awake."

I don't know what it was that gave that man the impression that I read the newspaper, but I somewhat admire his persistence.

I'm not feeling very well today, which I expected, but I am carrying a sense of accomplishment for having finished another five-day round of chemo. There's not a lot of fanfare and it feels like I'm making progress in inches rather than in strides, but at least I'm going somewhere.


  1. Strides are made up of inches at a time. You are getting interminable cycle at a time.

  2. Good work on that 8th round man. Keep it up.

    - Andy