A Day In the Infusion Suite With an Earworm

Submitted 4 months ago
Created by
Kerry Krieger Clifford

This week was my first time back at chemo after a ten month reprieve following a different procedure. I decided to keep a log of my thoughts while I was there and share them with you. It's mostly unedited, although I did change "towel" to "blanket" in the section where I was writing under the heavy influence of benadryl. And I had to fix punctuation. Cancer can't take that out of me.

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8:45 Step one is to visit with my oncologist. The nurse takes me to the exam room and immediately puts me on the scale. I know I just wrote about radical body celebration two weeks ago, but I’ll never like stepping on the scale. I guess it’s good to get it over with first thing. I try not to let it color the rest of the day. 

9:35 I’m back out in the waiting room. I just sent my mom for a snack, realizing that I’m mere moments away from all food tasting completely blah. Do you want butter on your bagel? Hell yes, I do.

I’m super sleepy and wishing they would bring me in just so I could sit in a chair where I can lean my head back.

There was a lady out here with me who was wearing the most spectacular gold lamé bike shorts and sparkly golden flip flops. I went for comfort when getting dressed this morning, but she’s making me rethink my choices. (Update 10:18 – I have managed to drip coffee down the front of my already “comfy” shirt, so now I definitely can’t hold a candle to Gold Pants.)

Seriously with this shirt, you guys.

Another person here is… well he’s a kid. It looks like he’s here with his mom, and that just breaks my heart. Did he have to take the day off of school? Or is he maybe older than I think he is because as soon as I saw him, my mind turned him into one of my boys? What with the mismatched socks and earbuds. He’s everybody’s kid and shouldn’t have to go through whatever it is he is going through with his mom right now.

10:00 Geez. Now there’s another kid here with his mom. And this time it’s the kid who is the patient and my broken heart shattered for that mom. I hate this disease with every cell of my being.

10:20 They gave me a little room toward the back this time. Usually, I’m sitting in an alcove up front where all of the traffic is. Hopefully this doesn’t hinder my witty and brilliant insights on this day for you.

10:45 Nurse Laura just came in to hook me up to my first med. When they clean the connector plug, the smell of the alcohol stings my nose and wipes away any attempt to forget where I am and what I’m doing. We are here. And I have cancer. The Benadryl is starting to kick in, and my brain is getting very fuzzy. The clock ticks. Another person’s pump down the hall is beeping to let the nurses know that it needs their attention. I have a blanket on my legs straight out of the heater, and it comforts me.

12:06 I just woke up from a deep sleep. The lady in the other chair has two people with her and they are pretty chatty, but they didn’t keep me up at all. I was out cold. I missed a text from Jen, who works here. She had stopped by. Told me to text when I got up. 

12:20 Lunch. It’s not the best, but I can’t really taste things anyway, so no biggie. The real problem is that I’ve come to associate the smell of chicken noodle soup with the nauseous sensations of this hospital. Now I have the pavlovian response of feeling like I’m going to hurl every time I smell chicken noodle soup. Guess what people bring you a lot of when they know you are sick ;-)

1:09 Jen just left. She filled me in on some important town gossip, and we talked about what we have coming up this weekend. It’s Autumn Moon Festival weekend in Windsor. The town is going to be hopping. I’m hoping to go, but will have to tell the organizer that I can’t help collect money at the caricature booth because of my white blood cells. Exchanging germs with every last person at the festival is not the best way to stay healthy during treatment. But the fresh air and exercise will definitely be great for me.

1:12 I need to go to the bathroom again. This will be the third time in as many hours. They put the fluids into me and out they come.

1:37 Bathroom. Again.

2:47 Nurse Laura just plugged me in to my final med, so we are down to our last 90 minutes. She is so sweet and gentle. They really all are. I honestly haven’t met a single nurse or LNA that I haven’t loved. Laurin is taking care of the lady I’m sharing my room with. She’s a hoot. I hang my every hope on their optimism and confidence. People must tell them all the time how much their great attitudes mean to them, but I just don’t think they could ever possibly know the extent of it. 

2:54 I’m still dripping things down the front of my shirt and have pretty much given up all hope of ever feeling presentable again. 

2:55 The steroids must be taking affect. I’m way more type-y now. Laurin is prepping her patient with her take home pump, aka the Happy Meal, aka Chemo to Go. I remember those days. Meds all day, then meds for two more nights. They tell you how, if it leaks, you pretty much have to burn your house down and move. That’s how toxic it is. The trouble with mine always was that the cats LOVED the tubes. They would wake me up in the middle of the night, curiously swatting at the tiny hazmat hose running from my sternum to the pump’s resting place at the head of my bed. Good times.

3:08 I have a song stuck in my head. Well, a song parody. Everyone with cancer wants to someday be NED (no evidence of disease). In a journal entry last week, I wrote, “Why can’t I be Ned?” It has morphed in my head into a new version of a Van Halen 80’s classic…

I’ve got what it takes

So tell me why can’t I be NED?

Are you humming it in your head now? Good. They tell me no one is supposed to fight alone.

3:13 I was freezing. So I was bundled up with the toasty blanket and a pillow. Then I was hot, so I slowly, one limb at a time, emerged from my cocoon. I was craving coffee. Any cravings get fed, so my mom got me a coffee. I’m drinking and sweating.

3:38 The last med is kicking in. I feel nauseated and twitchy. But at least I’m still sweating. Gah! Also, I just found out that a nurse that used to take supreme care of everyone here, he of gentle hands, soft voice and quick quip, is now a patient. My heart is broken, and as a Colorectal Cancer Alliance Facebook post said the other day, “I don’t have enough middle fingers for this disease. 

4:11 Fun fact: the beeping gets louder when there is no nurse available to attend to it.

4:40 Heading home. See you in two weeks, 3K.

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