We had our 10-hour chemo session on April 25 and came through it with no problem. Maybe I should say so far, but of course so far is all we’ve got, so…
There’s a scene in one of my favorite movies (sue me), “Field of Dreams.” Young Archie Graham has just been knocked down by the pitcher because Archie winked at him. Shoeless Joe Jackson takes the kid aside and asks him what the location of the next pitch is likely to be. The kid says low and outside “or in my ear.” Joe pats him on the back and tells him to be ready for low and outside, “But watch out for in your ear.”
That dialogue kept running through my head as my treatment progressed. The staff at the clinic had done a really good job preparing us for a long, difficult day, which it was, I guess. We left home at 7 a.m. and got back about 5:30 p.m., so it certainly used up a lot of hours. Of that, I spent almost eight hours attached to my IV as a variety of medicines was introduced, including Cytoxan, which was the chemotherapy itself. As well as massive doses of fluids (and I did you-know-what like a racehorse), there were a number of anti-nausea medicines and other cool-sounding stuff. At one point, I thought I saw eye of newt, but I probably didn’t.
With the amount of Cytoxan I had to take, the general feeling was that I would end up nauseous. But I guess the staff didn’t know their own strength because I didn’t feel nauseous at all; low and outside, if you will. Hey, I was as surprised as anyone that it wasn’t “in your ear.”
I would have thought that sitting there all day, attached to a pole, would have been bad, very bad. Maybe my attitude is as good as you all keep telling me it is, because it just didn’t seem that bad. Time went by. It wasn’t as if I had anyplace to go and the chair I was in was nice and comfy.
I was glad to be at the clinic here because at least I knew some of the staff and we were able to chat. Some friends came and visited before taking Sheri to lunch. Well, they only went as far as the cafeteria, but you know what I mean.
I dozed a little. It may sound slightly daft, but the sound of the IV machines dispensing medicine was incredibly soothing.
I kept wondering why the whole thing wasn’t more … painful … more unpleasant. I know, I just should have been happy it was what it was. But, let’s face it: You sit in a chair — any chair — for eight hours and see where you mind takes you. I was happy, by the way; amazed, really. Though, in truth, we’ve have had so many people praying for me and Sheri, that I shouldn’t really have been surprised.
I did find myself revisiting my Pac-Man theory of cancer. As many of you know, before I got it, I always sort of imagined that you would sense the cancer cells working through your body like Pac-Man. Well, that was a gyp. Cancer cells are actually creepy, cunning little bastards that you’d hardly know were there if they didn’t hurt.
On April 25, then, I thought maybe I’d sense the chemo moving through my system; that each area it left would feel different than the one it went into. Nope. With all the fluids that accompanied the chemo, all I felt was the never-ending need to go to the bathroom.
Being first in and last out for the day, we got the chance to see the entire clinic staff at work for the whole day. Of course, I hope you never get cancer, but if you do, I also hope you have a staff like this working on your behalf. They take a lot of the fear and dread out of what is happening to you.
So, now little remains to be done up here. We’ve arranged for house sitters, started packing, and borrowed our friend’s GPS again. It seems like this trip has been part of our lives for a lot longer than three months: When we go to Boston. When we’re in Boston. While I’m in the hospital. And so on. It seemed like it would never get any closer. And now here we are. Ain’t time just a pisser, though?
Thank-you note: We want to thank all of you who have shared and/or donated to the Go Fund Me site our daughters, Jennifer, Alison and Kristie, have established. We’re much more used to helping others than being helped, so it’s been hard for us to allow even our kids to reach out like this. However, this isn’t really the time for pride to guide our decision making.
Jim Arnold is a former copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. To read more about his journey through cancer, visit his blog, findingthepony.blogspot.com.