Chapter 3 – Chemo Days are Tough

Chapter 3 – Chemo Days are Tough

January 31

First of all, I’d like to thank you all for your great support and wonderful messages and all that you’ve done to cheer me on, as I traverse this bad patch.

Life is definitely changing its texture and flavor as I weave my way down this trail.  Having a secure support system has meant that I am able to stand just that much firmer on my feet while I progress.

It turns out that driving has become a semi-major obstacle — a drag, to be honest — and tiring beyond my expectations. So, I have started to call on friends for the transportation portion of my life. It has proven to be a nice time to catch up on their news and get them caught up on where I am.

So, this week Jan and I drove through a wintery landscape to the cancer center for a light week of chemo …

Also spent time with Dottie going to the lawyer …

and with Carol at the hairdresser …

Mary brought in the mail and took out the recycle …

Joan brought yogurt and news of her life and times …

All together it was good for the spirits.

In other news, I am in the process of getting approved for the use of medical marijuana. Hopefully that will help with the pain from the rash and the nausea and other side effects of the chemo.

The coming week will be free from chemo to give these old bones a chance to recover. I am looking forward to getting some energy back, but will continue to call on friends for a bit of shared experiences. It feels like a hug from the world to have such good friends.

Many thanks.


During this last week, I discovered that, while physically able to drive, the concentration necessary to make so many decisions and process all the visual input one needs to navigate traffic became impossible.

Chemo-brain … a brain that has been fried with chemical medication … that brain is no longer really capable of driving. Each and every one of my neural pathways had new coordinates. The predictable path between my eyes and my brain became mired in a kind of fog.  Decisions that needed to be made regarding on-coming traffic were fraught with peril.  A simple one-mile trip to pick up a few things for dinner became a bizarre experience — odd and other-worldly. Being in the driver’s seat was like going to a psychedelic carnival. Imagine the Wizard of Oz and the flying monkeys hosting a party in your car, featuring funhouse mirrors, and roller coaster seating, with Gerald McBoing-Boing as the color commentator. Driving felt like that.

So, I called on friends to drive me to the grocery store and the bank, to the lawyer and the mall, to the hairdresser and the drug store. I also made a schedule of friends who could take me to and from treatment sessions. The longer sessions usually involved two people …someone taking me and someone else picking me up to return home.  But for the shorter sessions, or those Mondays that required blood work only, I spent the day with a friend, and at times felt able to go for a bite of lunch or coffee afterwards.

My second week was a short session, when only one drug and the anti-nausea medication are administered. However, every week before the chemo is pumped into you, you are poked and needled to make sure that your LEVELS are okay. It turns out that your level of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, along with some other obtuse properties, determine when and if they can administer the meds to you.

On this Monday, my blood work indicated I was good to go. But before my treatment got underway, I met with the oncologist and raised the subject of getting a prescription for medical marijuana. The doctor agreed it was a really good option and might help to fight the nausea and pain that results from Chemo. So, he gave his approval for me to receive it.

However, it is not a prescription you can run out and fill. A physician’s approval merely means you have a medical need to use marijuana. In Connecticut, it means I was given medical approval to apply to the state for a license. After I received my license, I would be able to obtain the marijuana in some appropriate form through a state-approved dispensary.

And, of course, the state, being in perpetual debt, requires that you pay for the license.

And, of course, it takes several weeks to get your ID card so that you can go to the dispensary and meet with a pharmacologist.

And, of course none of it is covered by insurance.

And, of course you can’t even rack up some flyer miles on your Visa because they take cash only for the sale of Medical marijuana.

Don’t you just love bureaucracy?

I started the application process when I got home, while I still had enough working brain cells to deal with the moribund state-regulatory website.  Always a joy … especially as it involved having a passport size photo attached to the e-mail application.


A photo of me the Chemo Chemical Carnival Survivor Side Show? But, what the hell, I was way beyond caring that the bureaucrat at the other end of the transmission might get a serious case of the heebie-jeebies from my photo.

So … with apologies to Mom, who really did care how one appeared to the rest of the world … I took a selfie on my iPhone, cropped it, and sent the whole shebang in for processing.

With that done, I made plans for the rest of the week. My experience of the previous week prepared me for the upcoming rush of chemo reaction and the loss of the next few days. I knew to make sure that I had saltines and water beside the bed for when the anti-nausea meds wore off … the prescription drugs at hand, a bucket and towel in case I needed to up-chuck, and my cell phone charged for emergencies. I was prepared. I was now in full underground bunker mentality awaiting Armageddon.

It turns out that the pattern of the days of each week became predictable, to a certain extent. I learned that during the second week I could expect to feel good on Monday and Tuesday, ghastly on Wednesday and Thursday, functional on Friday and Saturday, and almost normal on Sunday.

So, I began clearing my calendar of any and all appointments that fell during the week, filled my water filter containers to keep the system flushed, and started writing my update for the week.

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