Wednesday, 19 October 2011
COOKIES AND FEAR
but they do serve sandwiches, cookies and juice at noon. And they are good sandwiches...egg salad or tuna with a little mayo and a little salt - on whole wheat bread. At 1:30, a volunteer wheels a cart through the clinic and offers tea, coffee, juice and cookies. The chair is comfy. There are heated flannel sheets if you feel chilled. It is not the Little Shop of Horrors. At all.
I am sitting in the waiting room, nervously waiting for "my" nurse to fetch me. When she comes in, she sits down in the chair next to me, looks into my eyes, smiles and says, "You are going to be just fine. You aren't going to feel anything when the chemo drugs are going through your system. You aren't going to be sick. You don't have to be scared - cancer treatment has come a long way..."
And with that, she leads me to the clinic, to my chair. She manages to hit my "thready" vein in one nearly painless try and settles in to tell me how good my blood work looks. My blood pressure, as usual is low. She laughs at my heartbeat because it takes her a minute to find a pulse. "It's a shy little heartbeat, but it's steady," she says. And then, after suiting up in gloves and a gown, she covers me with a warm blanket and starts the drip.
I look around. Everyone looks cheery. The patients, I mean, the others hooked up to IVs filled with toxins. People, catching my eye, smile and give a little wave. We are sailors together on the poisoned sea...all of us rowing towards the shore of wellness. No one looks bloated from steroids or emaciated or nauseated. One woman is working on embroidery. Some visit with a friend or family member. Some, like me, read.
After a while, I doze. The only problem with dozing is that I'm more or less upright, so gravity grabs my jaw - I wake up every few minutes to the embarrassing realization that I am snoozing slack-jawed and mouth gaping. Fortunately, I wake up before I start to drool in public.
The whole time, I keep wishing I could turn my cell phone on and call Wendy, who, this morning felt at least as apprehensive as I did. I wish I could call all of you and say - I'm going to get the hell through this. I have ginger and crackers and meds when I need them. I have friends. Nurse Ratchet is definitely nowhere in sight.
And apparently western medicine is not the boogie man after all.