Health

Sayonara Chemo

I had my last round of chemo today.  The chemo room is enormous and always full of women and their husbands, friends or family.  I hate the implications of the “always full” part, but I find I’m warmed by this strange community we form — patients, family, friends and nurses, thrown together under miserable circumstances but trying to make it as comfortable as possible. The first time I went for chemo I cried uncontrollably the instant the IV needle was in. Not blubbering so much as hyperventilating & blinking out big splashy tears.  Mercifully one of the nurses had an anti-anxiety pill under my tongue faster than I could say “I’m leaving,” and after a while things settled down into a nice, floaty haze. My husband held my hand for four hours straight. I saw a woman like that today – she just looked terrified, and her husband held her hands and stared into her eyes, willing her to be strong, or to draw strength from him, maybe.  It’s a pretty intimate place, the chemo room. My husband and I have adapted to life in the chemo room in our own way: the nurses always give me one of the few beds rather than a recliner and nobody seems to mind that both he and I squeeze onto it.  It’s very cozy and has been cause for lots of jokes, as we lie there reading the paper and even falling asleep on and off while the chemicals drip into my body. I actually had to elbow my husband a couple of times today when he started snoring.  It feels kind of like a typical Sunday afternoon at home when our daughter is napping and we lie in bed just reading and dozing off – except way more public and with an IV drip.  And a lovely snack lady who wheels a cart into to the room, bearing juice and sandwiches and cookies.  (We should really look into getting her to drop by our place on Sunday afternoons.)  But as cozy and not unpleasant as the nurses have managed to make it for me, I realized the moment they took the needle out today that I’m no longer experiencing mixed emotions about the end of chemo: I’M JUST SO GLAD IT’S OVER. May it really and truly be the last time.  And bring on the side effects – let’s get them over with too and move on to the next stage of my treatment. Sayonara chemo, hello radiation. It occurs to me that they probably don’t let the husbands share the beds for radiation.  I’m willing to give up a few privileges.  But should I ever have the means, I’ve pledged to donate a double bed to the chemo room.