A few weeks ago, my doctor decided it was time for treatment. Myrtle's "just waits" turned into rude and annoying "told yas!" She was showing her ass... and slowing my ass (which is saying something, given the general slowness at which I operate normally)... so we made plans.
Bear in mind, I am someone who has, my whole life, avoided doctors, doctor's offices, hospitals, etc. I don't do medical. It stems from my fear of a scary pediatrician -- a fear I developed as a kindergartner, of which I've never been able to let go. So plans that include doctors, doctor's offices, and hospitals wig me out. Wig. Me. Out. Big.
But in some things in Life, we have little choice, eh?
So, onward and through it, my peeps!
This week has been a big one for me. First, I had to have a surgical procedure done to implant a port in my chest -- the thing by which the poison that is designed to bitch-slap Myrtle is transported through my body to all the places she reaches. They recommend this to everyone but it was really a necessity for me because, although I do appear to actually have veins, finding them and keeping them open is a trick with which most medical personnel struggle. It's not their fault. I don't do medical.
So, port. Yuck.
I have to tell you, I was a wee bit scared. Up until this week, I'd only ever seen an operating room on television. And in-person, it was not pleasant (even if my surgeon was rather attractive). It was big and bright and cold and full of people milling around and I felt small (and that's saying something!) and completely and totally out-of-control. Blech! I was quite happy to be put to sleep while they cut me open and put this bizarre foreign object into my body. And all in all, it went well. I came out of the anesthesia just fine (no ranting or swearing or visions of Heffalumps and Woozles) and other than the fact that the site looked utterly disgusting and felt really sore, it was OK. The next day, however, sucked monkey balls, as the pain meds made me sick to my stomach, but a reprieve from my boss and few extra hours in bed sorted that out.
So, first big scary step: Done
Next up: Chemotherapy
Chemo is a terrifying word -- a terrifying concept. Horror stories abound. And though there are a lot of people who believe it's worse than the disease it's treating (understandable!), it is the primary treatment. Period. So two days after the port surgery, I trekked back to the cancer center (with my trusty Court Jester in tow)...
And wigged out. Just a bit.
It was silly, really. A friend told me about this numbing cream that would be very helpful to put on the port site before they stick the IV needle in. It sounded like a great idea, since I hate being stuck and since the port site is still very sore. I'd called about a prescription and had been assured it was sent to my pharmacy. But when I got there? No cream. Gack! I now believe the mix-up was a result of my stupid hyphenated last name (I don't use the last part, which belonged to my ex-husband, but since it's legally me, I think the nurse at the hospital called in the prescription under that name. When I used my not-legal but real name to ask for the prescription, they said they didn't have it). Anyway, I figured I could get it at the cancer center but when I got here, they told me they don't keep it in stock. GACK! Tears welled and the nurse, bless her heart, bent over backwards to get it for me. Turned out, it didn't really work and I didn't really need it, but it was a peace of mind thing (which, thankfully, she totally understood).
After the wig-out, I settled in for Myrtle's bitch-slapping. They pumped crap into my port for a couple of hours. I entertained myself by posting every 60 seconds on Facebook and working hard to annoy my Court Jester, who worked just as hard to annoy me back. Overall, it was fine. After the needle was in, it wasn't so scary (unless I really thought about how the nurses have to put special gloves on to handle the TOXIC stuff they put into my body). I went home and got through the night with little discomfort (just a few stomach cramps that made me wonder if this whole cancer thing might have actually been an immaculate conception and I was having a baby instead).
So I'm back today for the 2nd round of treatment. This is the long, yucky day, with the greatest chance of allergic reaction and side effects. I'm focused on every little thing I'm feeling and wondering if it's normal or something happening... that twinge in my stomach -- is it a reaction or just gas? That twinge of headache -- is it a reaction or am I just hungry or is it... a BRAIN TUMOR?! (Update: I actually did have a minor allergic reaction just now, but it's all under control.)
In any case, it'll all be over in a few hours. For now. I'll be back in a few weeks to do it all over again. And again... and again. The course runs 2 days every 3-4 weeks, for 4-6 months, depending on my numbers. And we're hoping that'll give me another year or two (or longer!) before treatment will be necessary again.
It's been an adventure, this bitch-slapping. I can't say that I've enjoyed it... but it's been interesting. As you know, I don't believe in God or a divine plan or that everything happens for a reason. And this situation has done much to reinforce my non-belief (and, in fact, my utter disbelief). But I do believe there is always something positive to be found in crappy situations (sometimes you just have to look really hard). And there has been good...
I am learning to take care of myself -- not just of my health (though I'm getting better at that, out of necessity. There is nothing like feeling like utter shit to make you appreciate feeling good and to make you want to feel good again). But I'm learning that it's OK -- that it's necessary -- to do what I need to feel better; it's OK to stand up and say, "This is about me, not you," or "I don't want you here," or "I need help, please." That is big for me.
I've learned that although my dealings with the medical community have not always been positive, this place is full of wonderful people whose objectives are not just about making you well, but about making you feel good, too. They have taken such good care of me, with smiles and patience. I feel as though I'm in very good hands. And that is really big for me.
I've learned how much I am loved. My peeps have circled the wagons, protecting me as best they can and taking such good care of me. I will never be able to thank them for what have done -- for what they do. I am so very lucky.
And I've learned that even though my kid is so together and acts like nothing fazes her, she gets scared, too. And I've learned that although I am good at acting like this is no big deal to protect her, it is a big deal... and it's OK to let her know that I'm scared and that I know she's scared and that being scared is OK and normal... and that we're going to be just fine.
Because we are going to be just fine.
And that, my friends, is the story of how Myrtle got bitch-slapped this week.