Chapter 2 – Cold Weather and Chemo Arrive Together

Chapter 2 – Cold Weather and Chemo Arrive Together

January 24

Winter arrived the same day I arrived for my first Chemo transfusions. And I was smartly dressed in my light blue coat with new black earmuffs, and new black and white scarf … One has to keep up one’s standards after all. We all owe a debt to Scarlett for that!

The staff and nurses were wonderful and everything was very pleasant and went well. I was even given a session of Reiki to relieve tension.

Dottie was with me and a huge reassurance during the new and unnerving experience. She has been with others going through Chemo treatment, and it was comforting to know that what was a black hole of scary for me, was pretty normal and routine for everybody else who was there.

I sat and made plans for what to do when I got home, and in general felt that I was way ahead of the game. SO, everything was copacetic and then…


That afternoon, the chemo started to grind its way through my millions of cells. So much for making plans!

I got hit by the sleeps the yawns and chemo-brain. Sleeping beauty had nothing on me, and if it wasn’t for having to drink fluids I would still be asleep.

However, I did have to keep up my fluid intake so that my kidneys would not fail. Now you’ve got to admit that’s a pretty strong motivation.

So, for two or three days it was …

sip. sip. sip.

tinkle. tinkle, tinkle.

sleep. sleep. sleep.

repeat. repeat. repeat.

Then the nausea medication wore off, and the next few days were spent adjusting to prescription meds for nausea.

Sip. Sip. Sip.

Tinkle. Tinkle. Tinkle.

Pill. Pill. Pill.

Ick. Ick. Ick.

Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Such and inspiring existence … not!!! And I have to admit Scarlett and her standards went to hell.

When I say that I am a bad patient, I mean it is embarrassing to know I am at heart a wuss. One always likes to suppose one is heroic and stoic and long-suffering. Well, I say, it really is too bad I can’t have a stiff drink and wake up when it is all over.

But today is much better. I am able to eat more, do more, and enjoy this gorgeous day. It is still hard to adjust to the fact that I am not well even though I am well. I mean rationally … who intentionally wants to be made ill to be made better.

So, I guess it’s just one of those existential things I have to deal with. And if it weren’t for the fact that I have 3 more months of this before the end is reached, I might feel different.  But then again, probably not.

Long life to the wusses of the world.

And Scarlett can … well … you know …. get a life!!!


A long session of chemotherapy takes four to five hours to administer. I was amazed at the peaceful feeling that enveloped the clinic where I went for the next three months. On any given Monday, patients were there when I arrived who were still there when I left.  And, there were those who came and went while I sat there and sat there and sat there.

There were people arriving and leaving and checking in, and checking out. There were people coming back to visit because they were in town, and wanted to check in with the staff and doctors, just to say hi. They had no need to be there except that they had shared a major part of their lives with these people and missed them, and wanted to catch up on their news. And there were people I never saw. They were wrapped up in blankets and slept through the hours, and I saw only their stoic care-takers — the companions who read through volumes and volumes of books and periodicals as they sat and witnessed the painful administration of the god-awful therapy that was the last stand in their individual battles.

But at no time was there any sense of urgency, or stress. Time was at a standstill. One really couldn’t hurry it along.

In addition, I discovered that my treatment was to take longer than expected because my veins were unable to take the infusion of chemo at a normal rate. So, I sat there and spaced out. All those things I brought along to do … didn’t get done. In its own weird way, the peaceful inertia was therapeutic … we were all there killing cancer by killing time.

Along with the bad juju drugs, they also give you anti-nausea medication that helps fight the worst of the nausea. The effect of the drug lasts for about 48 hours. Just enough time to make it home and believe that you are human … then whammo … you are gob smacked with wave after wave of nausea and painful cramping.

It was a shock to be so crippled by pain from the nausea. This was nothing like being seasick. This was an unremitting painful cycle of digestive ugliness. It was a headache that makes your eyes go blurry and your ears roar. This pain was dedicated and committed to making you check out. It really just made you want to give up and die.

And it went on for ever and ever and ever … well, at least until Thursday.

They gave me a pill form of the anti-nausea medication to take, once the other had worn off, but it was almost as ghastly as the nausea. I am totally amazed that anyone can become addicted to pain medications.

The prospect of three months of the nausea made me resolve to ask the doctor if he felt that medical marijuana would help. From all I had heard, it helps to alleviate many of the side effects of chemo treatment … especially the nausea.  I understand that it helps to ease the entire process, and make it bearable. So, what did I have to lose? I would be happy to visit La La Land if I could get the price of admission. So, it went on my list of things to discuss with my oncologist during my next visit.

My memories from this first week are of battling against a sensation of being underwater. It became very difficult to concentrate or focus on anything. Chemo-brain had arrived! Which, when you think about it, is not too surprising, since the chemo was working its way through my brain as well as my eyes and ears. It was simply taking control of my command center. So, I slept a lot, and drank the fluids that were necessary for my kidneys to function correctly.

It was — and here is the understatement of the year — it was really awful.

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