Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Day 81 of 100 Days of Good Karma.
I was nervous about chemo today.
Twice over the weekend my port hurt to the touch. Both times were after I slept. The pain went away after a few minutes, so I figured I’d slept on it wrong.
The pain hasn’t come back, but I made my chemo-date, Wendy, promise to make me ask about it at the doctor’s office.
My emotions were very up and down today. That seems to happen more frequently now.
I keep waiting for something to go wrong with chemo. I keep thinking “this is going too well”.
I’m afraid if I don’t worry about something going wrong then I won’t be prepared for it when the time comes.
I do my best to remind myself that my worrying isn’t useful.
I repeat my favorite Michael J. Fox quote in my head like a mantra: “If you imagine a worst case scenario and it happens then you’ll have lived it twice.”
It works for a little while. Then I go back to worrying.
I asked the nurse about my port when she hooked me up to the steroid infusion bag.
She snagged my oncologist’s Physician’s Assistant in the hallway and he ordered a chest x-ray for me. He said the x-ray would tell him if the port had shifted or wasn’t in the correct place.
After I was hooked up to the drip bag, I looked at Wendy and said, “You know, today I think I’m not gonna have cancer. I don’t want to do this anymore.”
“Okay,” she said amiably. “You want me to break you out?”
“Yes. Will you?”
“Yes,” she said, clearly meaning no.
“I didn’t think so.”
An hour later chemo was done and Wendy and I headed next door to the hospital for the chest x-ray.
As soon as I walked through the hospital doors I went from a hard-maintained feeling of normalcy back to receiving sideways glances from strangers in the hallway again.
I don’t even make eye contact anymore. These looks just exhaust me now.
I was escorted back for the chest x-ray. The tech asked me the standard medical questions.
“Do you have diabetes?”
“Do you have high blood pressure?”
“Any chance you might be pregnant?”
“Any history of cancer?”
I want to shake them and tell them this is the only time anything has ever been wrong with me. That I did everything I was supposed to.
I ate right. I exercised. I don’t smoke or do drugs.
I want to tell doctors and nurses and strangers in the hallway, “I’m just like you. I have a husband and kids and a fucking life and cancer is screwing that up.”
I want to say this as though pointing out the injustice of having breast cancer will change the fact that I… well… have breast cancer.
I don’t do this.
It’s too hard to pretend ‘normal’ when I say it out loud.
I changed into a hospital gown top. This one open to the back. For a wonder no one wanted to see my boobs today.
I wrapped my arms around the cross hatched screen and rested my chin against the top as instructed.
It was all scary again standing in front of that machine and I had to swallow the urge to cry.
The tech ducked behind the wall. I heard a beep. The screen shook against my body while machines hummed behind me.
To get a view of the port from the side I turned to my right.
The x-ray tech wheeled an IV pole over and instructed me to grip the pole as high as I could. I suppressed braying, nervous laughter when inappropriate thoughts leapt into my head.
Thoughts like, “I’m a chemo stripper and he just told me to hold the pole!”
Hot on the heels of the stripper thought was, “What if it isn’t just the port? What if they find lung cancer and all the other scans and tests missed it?”
See? Ups and downs.
That x-ray scared me. It scared me bad. I felt like I had to breathe around a lump of hot lead.
You can’t joke your way out of an x-ray.
X-rays, like cancer, don’t care about how positive you are. They don’t care about moral strength and a sunny outlook.
They are, if you’ll pardon the pun, black and white.
I reminded myself that I wasn’t here to be checked for lung cancer. That the tests I’ve had done would have caught it by now. The cancer is in my breast.
It’s only in my breast.
But worry-thoughts plagued me.
“What if they have to do another surgery on the port?”
“What if there’s a hole in it (I’ve heard of this) and I’m leaking chemo into all the wrong places?”
And, as always: “What if this shit kills me?”
The crushing depression of waiting for more test results descended on me again.
Thank God Wendy was there to pull me out of the tail spin.
She made me listen to weird rap songs in the car and tried to explain the social significance of Lil’ Wayne. I made a face and searched my music for a happy medium between rap and country.
We met somewhere around Florida Georgia Line.
Today’s silver lining: My phone rang when I got home. It was my oncologist. She said the port placement looked fine to her.
Of course, no mention of lung cancer and I was to contact her if I experienced pain in the port again.
Thank God the port is okay.
Thank God Chemo number 9 is done (three left in this round of drugs).
Thank God I came home to happy kids who wanted hugs, and a dog who wanted to lay her head on my feet, and a husband who helped me get lost in a science fiction show with lots of aliens and explosions.
What’s your silver lining today? I love comments!