I am happy to report my 5th chemo treatment went well on Wed. March 18th. No side effects during treatment. They had reduced the dose of chemo and added some benadryl in order to try and reduce the reactions I had last time. We modified the meds also. So hopefully this upcoming week will be uneventful with regards to side effects. And we have changed the way in which the injections will be administered in order to try and maintain a reasonable level for my white blood cell count. I am going to have to be wise with regards to resting regularly during the next 3 weeks so my body can build up its strength and my white blood cells can be produced sufficiently before my next treatment.
Thinking back on my treatments, I think my visits have become part of the comic relief in the chemo room. Last time my friend Karey brought the tropical decor and this time I was accompanied by my long time (20 yrs+) friend Joanne. She decided to keep me entertained by a drawing game similar to pictionary (Telestrations) while I soaked my feet and hands. We laughed so much! Seriously, how can hair extensions be interpreted as a Hassidic, orthodox Jew?? There was a quirk in the game though - when it was her turn to draw and have me guess, she simply drew, I guessed. But when it was my turn, I couldn't draw of course (hands soaking in ice) so she closed her eyes and I dictated how to draw my picture. Then she opened her eyes and tried to guess the picture. It was sort of like 2 games in 1.
Sometimes we laughed so hard, I think the other patients thought we were crazy! Well it did give them something to keep their minds off their own treaments. At one point, because of all the fun we were having, I didn't even notice that water from the melted ice had seeped into the ziplock bags and my socks were soaking wet! So, like the good friend she is, Joanne whipped off her socks and gave them to me to finish the soaking and afterwards went home with no socks on in her boots. You know you're good friends when you can wear your her used, sweaty socks!! Then everyone in the room had their opinion on what to do next - with my wet socks, drying off my feet, how to reposition the new ziplocks. It was a hoot!
I realized afterwards that normally every medical appointment or procedure we have during our lives is usually very private. It's one on one with the health care provider or providers. But not chemo. We are all (this time 7 of us) in one room, positionned in a circle. So you have to look at each other, whether you want to or not. Chemo is lived out in community, with the advantages and disadvantages of this set up. One can see first hand other patients' reactions, fears, joys. One can hear words of encouragement from caregivers, nurses, advice from the medical staff etc. I tell you, we're in this together - not very private at all. I wondered about this with Daniel - is it primarily a budget thing, need for less nurses? Is it just convenient for the surveillance if something goes wrong with one patient the nurse can respond more quickly, being in the same room? This is probably true. But maybe there is some additional reason. Knowing you're not alone in the battle, that there are others going through the same journey, some even worse off than you are, sort of makes it less scary. There is an inspiration and encouragement in knowing others are going through the same struggles as you are, and they can smile through this too. I do sincerely hope we made a positive impact to those surrounding us on that day. We certainly did make them smile and I'm sure some had stories to tell when they arrived home.