Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 82 - Making the Choice, Getting Informed

Yesterday was a big day. A teary day ... it's been a while since I've cried about all of this, but yesterday brought me to the verge. I can't say they fell, but they were on the brink.

At 11:30 yesterday we had my follow up visit with the Oncologist to give her our decision and what not. Well, my haircut obviously gave it away -- so we jumped right in to talking about the process, going over the details, getting all the prescriptions, meeting with nurse, going over what was essentially a chemo side-effect handbook and getting all the appointments scheduled. As we dove into the nitty gritty of chemo - I could feel a lump developing in my throat ... tears starting welling in my eyes and I couldn't get close enough to Mike. As we worked through the handbook, it made things feel very real. It's one thing to make the decision to do "chemo" when you're blissfully ignorant of the rest of the side effects in addition to hair loss and maybe nausea ... but once you start talking about what's really going to happen - what you have to watch out for during the process ... when you have to call the doctor or nurses ... what's an "expected" side effect and what's not - it's seriously daunting.

Pat, the nurse, kept flipping through page upon page of this notebook reviewing all the different side effects of each chemo drug. Next, she gave me, and reviewed, 5 different prescriptions that are used to manage the side effects of the chemo drugs, and then went over the individual side effects of those drugs.

I'm seriously going to need a pill box labeled: "Nausea A", "Nausea B, if A doesn't work", "Anxiety", "Constipation", "Steroids" ... No wonder it's called CHEMO! Chemicals, chemicals, chemicals ....

I'm going to need to go into detox after this is over.

When she finished and left the room, I just closed my eyes and breathed. I exhaled a long, slow breath -- fluttered my eyelids in an attempt to hold back the tears - and just nodded my head when Mike asked if I was alright. He asked me why I'm so strong when they're in the room, but the minute they leave, I fall to pieces. I told him I had no choice when they're telling me everything -- I have to focus. If I let my emotions take over, I won't be able to hold on to what they're saying and I need to understand.

Before I could truly lose it, plastic surgery walked in and we started our next appointment. They removed the 6 stitches, said things "look good" and we said a little "good vibe" prayer to that spot that is slow to heal. But we didn't expand. We're going to wait two more weeks before we start expansion again on the left side to really give that spot an opportunity to heal up before we ask it to stretch. It certainly does look better than the last time they took out the stitches, so I'm hoping it stays that way.

On our way out, we scheduled the next round of appointments - the chemo appointments - which take us into November. Two appointments for each infusion - the Oncology appointment where they draw my blood, run their tests and give me the green light for my infusion and then the actual infusion appointment, where I get my chemo cocktail. Too bad "infusion" and "cocktail" don't apply to vodka ...

We walked through the "Infusion Area" so I could see the environment ... we only went halfway before I told Mike I wanted to leave -- Everyone in there receiving their infusions .... truly looked sick ... like yes, they needed to be in the hospital. I can't identify with that - especially because I don't feel sick, at all. Of all the steps throughout this journey, this seems like it's going to be the most difficult. Hopefully - it's not so bad and I just get some cute hats out of the deal.

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