Chapter 1 – Constanza Waiting

Chapter 1 – Constanza Waiting

January 13

Waiting in the waiting room seems to be the only exercise I have gotten lately.

I have decided that pacing around is my new cardio, and the glass of whatever libation at the end of the day is my weight lifting, and the getting out of bed is my sit ups.

Between blood tests and x-rays and cat scans and ultrasounds and bone scans and MRIs and mammograms and this, that and the other, it was a lot of waiting in waiting rooms. Also, a lot of form-filling-outing and undressing with the johnnie coat to open in the front or the back, and socks that are the last word in fashionable … not!

The folks at Jefferson Radiology were very sympathetic about the day that I had 3 completely different tests all scheduled for the one day. Nice people and all, but the wallpaper is really not up to my standards!  And to be honest, the artwork … best left unsaid.

Any and all reports have now come back, and it appears the cancer has not gone anyplace else, which is REALLY good news. But of course, that is not an absolute fact.

No absolutes exist when talking about cancer.

I would describe the last month since my initial surgery as trying to go forward on a pogo stick at the edge of the road.

It has really been a speed trial … but not. There has been a whole lot of hurry up and wait. And during the wait times, I have been getting a lot accomplished, so as to be able to enjoy my ill health, when it arrives.

I am now going to be under the care of an oncologist, and have a nurse navigator assigned to hold my shaky hand through the process. It is all so normal for them and so NOT normal for me.

One can only hope that it becomes less frightening as the meds kick in.

I say …  Better living through chemistry! …


On the 14th I met with my Oncologist, the doctor who would oversee my chemo treatment. He gave a brief synopsis of the plan for my treatment.

I was to receive 2 forms of Chemo.

They were to be administered once a week, as follows.

Week 1: a long treatment when both XXX and YYY are injected sequentially

Week 2: a short treatment when only YYY is given.

Week 3: no treatment, merely blood work to check my levels.

I was to repeat this pattern 4 times — a total of 12 weeks altogether.

It seemed pretty straightforward. I would have all that time between treatments to get on with my life. Right?

Well, here is what happens during the process of chemotherapy — all the cells of your body are retooled. The chemo drugs alter every tiny little bit of you in unimaginable ways. Your cellular structure is essentially changed forever.

The form of chemo that you are given determines in what way your cells are changed. But you might as well kiss your own self goodbye and get to know the new you, because there is no do-over here.

You can tell yourself it is for the greater good, and this is the anti-cancer weapon that blitzkriegs the body to save one’s life. But, essentially you, the you that you are, becomes the you that once was. The you as you are when you begin is no longer there. And in fact, you are never ever there again.

I swear chemo is like some form of existential Play Dough.

It turns out that the two forms of chemo I was to receive are very strong. They have been around for a long time. Their effects are well documented. It is the only chemo used for the treatment of bladder cancer.

The good news is they have refined the way they administer the drugs so that some of the worst side effects have been ameliorated. The bad news is there are a lotof side effects.

Nausea is the worst.

But they can give you drugs for that …

Unlike some other forms of chemo, it does not cause one to lose one’s hair …

However, it can cause neuropathy: a deadening of the nerves in the extremities.

It can also cause dry mouth, mouth sores, tiredness, headaches, change in appetite and anemia.

In fact, it is hard to remember all the possible side effects. I could look up the complete list, but suffice it to say the news was daunting.

So, I arranged to receive treatment at the nearest Cancer center.

I penciled in Mondays for the next three months, with specific times to be determined.

I had my blood levels checked to give them a baseline for comparison.

I was given a prescription for anti-nausea medication, and I was good to go, secure in the belief that I was going to ace this chemo test.

No way was I going to let it take me down. Yeah … Right!

Dottie picked me up for my first Long session on the 18th of January … and that was the last of the old me.


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