This last round of chemo was tougher than the first. Not sure why. Could be the additive nature of more chemo. Could be we putzed with the intended schedule by pushing it back a week due to infection. Could be my body was less able to handle the onslaught due to the 2 infections I had since the first chemo. I’ll never know and I suppose it doesn’t even matter.
Yesterday I was still struggling, so I asked my oncologist what could be done to help me out. She suggested I come into the Cancer Center for some IV fluids. Sounds like my kind of date. Just mainlining the good stuff, right to the source.
With kids safely off to camp, my mom brought me to Kellogg, as I was still not feeling well enough to drive. My port was accessed (please always read that in a robot voice, thanks), my blood was drawn to check for important levels and I was started on a bolus of IV fluids.
The blood results came back pretty much as expected. My white blood cell count was under the normal levels at 3.9 and my platelets were 150, exactly on the low end of the scale. Side note: low platelets have a PTSD effect on me as a doula because if your platelets are under 150 while you are in labor, you do not have the option to get an epidural. It is au naturale for that laboring mama whether she likes it or not (usually not).
My oncologist made a brief cameo and decided I should get 2 bags of IV fluid. This screwed with our timing, as my mom needed to leave to pick up the baby.
There I was. Alone in a chemo suite. Bald, sick, hooked up to stuff, exhausted.
As you can see from the legions of comments and likes on my blogs, I am not ‘in need of’ supporters. People are always offering to accompany me to appointments. This appointment was at the last minute so it is not shocking that I ended up alone. And for the record, I have no problem doing things alone. I was sort of happy to be alone so I could just close my eyes and rest.
But then it happened. A kindly nurse came by, saw me alone, and asked if I wanted soup. No one has ever offered me a meal in the Cancer Center before. Soup must be oncology code for, ‘Oh shit look at that young, sick, sad, bald woman all by herself. Get her SOUP!!!!’
I accepted the soup and, as I slowly ingested it, people kept walking by and looking in at the sad soup lady. I didn’t feel lonely, but apparently I looked that way based on the bevy of ‘poor thing’ smiles I received. I was even given a high five by a nurse for eating 1/2 a bowl of Cancer Center Soup. Like I won the Silver Medal in ‘Solo Soup Eating in the Cancer Ward’ at the Olympics. I couldn’t help but giggle my way out of there when it was over.
To give you an idea of how dehydrated I was (am?), I had two large bags of fluid drained into my body and I still didn’t pee for 5 hours and when I did, it was bright yellow (aren’t you glad you know this about me?!).
I feel better today. Certainly not awesome, but better. I even over-compensated and went to Costco by myself which, in hindsight, was a large mistake. I kept thinking, ‘if I pass out in here, will it make the local newspaper? Will there be a photo of me laying on a gurney with my head wrapped, like a proud tribal warrior?’
Shockingly, I made it out without incident which I think means that I AM a strong African woman.