Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Yes folks, today was the day, oh, the infamous day. But let me not get ahead of myself here. Allow me, if you will, to start at the beginning, for I feel it is an apt place to start. I awoke this morning bright and shining early--6:00 A.M.--for the first day of the second session of my chemotherapy treatments at the UofC cancer clinic. I hauled my a** out of bed before the sun was even up so that my father and I could get to the clinic by our 8:00 A.M. appointment with the lab nurses. Incidentally, we ended up being about 20 minutes early. Figures. They drew my blood; they tested it; I waited for the results, which came back proving I'm doing swimmingly (my blood count levels are all high and happy). And then I got to wait some more for the cancer folk to find me a chair so I could sit in the aforementioned back room for my chemo. Finally, they found me a chair. My nurse Tricia came and apologized for the delay. I graciously accepted her apologies, and we began the day for real now. And here we go... 9:15 am: Tricia begins my two-hour saline drip, for hydration purposes. 11:15: drip finishes its dripping; I use the bathroom. 11:30: they hook up a chemotherapy drug known as cyclophosphamide. Same 'ol non-specific chemical, killing cells at wills. But oh yeah, here's the super cool part of this drug: You get a reaction while it's infusing. Well, I do. I guess other people do too. Basically, it feels like your head is on fire. The sinuses burn, headache, and the nape of my neck was burning too. It's ridiculous and painful. And thank God, it's a fifteen-minute infusion, so it goes away quickly afterwards. So much fun I could punch myself in the face. 12:10: Tricia hooks up another chemotherapy drug, one that is scheduled to go in over three hours. This one, though, has no significant side effects during infusion, and I didn't experience any either. The nurse also tells me that I am scheduled to get my lumbar puncture at 2:00 pm. So I've got two hours to kill while waiting for my bed. I wrote in my journal, listened to some music, tried to ignore the conversations of the adults around me, tried very hard to pretend I was anywhere else because I was not looking forward to the LP. 2:00 pm.: Time will move forward, despite all of our best efforts to thwart its continuation. They take me to a room with a bed. And the same doctor who had done my three biopsies walks in and tells me she's doing the LP. Again, woo. She's quite good at her job. So she sits me on the edge of the bed, pulls up my t-shirt, and tells me to lay my arms on the table in front of me and put my chin to my chest. The idea is to try and spread out your spine as much as possible so they can find the exact spot they're looking for. The other way doctors do it is to have the patient lie on their side on a bed, curled up in essentially the fetal position. Visualized what the spine looks like? Good. Okay, so she goes in, numbs the area between the fourth and fifth disk (i'm pretty sure) and dives right on in with her long, skinny needle. She draws 3 cc's of spinal fluid, and replaces it with 3 cc's of a chemo drug that starts with mex and is really long and unspellable. Basically, it's a preventive drug that hangs out and makes sure no leukemia is hiding in my central nervous system, and if it is, the chemo Destroys it! Good times. And for all of my worry, it didn't hurt at all. Like, actually, no pain. There was a pinch when she put the numbing stuff in, but that was it. The only weird thing is that now my cortex actually hurts. (Okay, I'm not sure if it's called the cortex. The bottom section of my spine hurts. Tailbone? I feel like it might be called the cortex. Sophomore high school health class says so. Correct me, please.) So yeah. Good times at the clinic. And then I left..........

And then the famed and feared nausea began its gradual takeover of my body. I started feeling nauseous in the car on the way home from the hospital. At one point, I made my dad pull the car over to the side of highway 294 in Chicago (four-lane, dangerous, speeding, rush-hour traffic) because I felt like I was going to throw up. I almost did, but I didn't. The air helped. So we continued on home. And then we were almost there when it happened again. Luckily, there was a parking lot we could pull into. Funnily, it was for a bar. Hmm. I kind of threw up, but I managed to keep most of it down. A man drove into the lot while I was bent over spitting on the ground and seriously gave me the nastiest look. Like, who are you, you young woman, throwing up in a bar parking lot? So, I swore at him, glared at him, and then took off my hat. That's right, I took off my hat to that man. And believe me, my hat hair is more than scary. And he kept staring. Well, whatever. He was alone and old and ugly and going to a bar at 4:00 in the afternoon on a Tuesday. I'm happy with my life, but he may have some things to work on. So that was pretty funny. And then I got home and got sick for real. I tried chicken noodle soup for dinner, but just recently that came back up too. So that's where I'm at right now. I have a ton of anti-nausea medication, but it's still not fun. And I get to arise at 6:00 am again tomorrow for my 8:00 am appointments. Good times. The good news is that Chicago is beautiful in the morning. Grey and blue and gradually lightening and then pinkening and then finally the orange ball of sun bursts from behind the clouds over Lake Michigan and reminds me that today is another day worth living for, no matter what.

Once again, congratulations and thank you if you read this whole post. I didn't write the past two days, and no guarantees for tomorrow, so you get a good solid whomping by my words today. Find something to smile about tomorrow. Or think of me here sitting in a massive and fantastic yellow and white-striped robe with bear slippers and flannel pj's, silently yelling at my delinquent stomach and then taking my fine self to bed. I don't know, it's funny. Small person, big robe, etc. Word. Alright, pax from my chilly bedroom. Can't wait for my flannel sheets.


Megan Amanda Steffen said...

Oh man. That was a vocal post for me. And by "vocal" I mean I added my own soundtrack by screaming, "EW! EW! GROSS! GROSS! GROSSSSSSS!!!"

It was pretty awesome. It made Andy laugh. Your writing...It's pretty good. he kind of stuff that makes you feel alive question mark? If "being alive" means cringing under sympathetic throes of pain? I guess?

Megan Amanda Steffen said...

PS: Let's turn it up to 11!

kev-kev said...

flannel sheets, bear slippers, cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute...nice entry caroline i thoroughly enjoyed the read

til next time
"HELLO CLEVELAND!...HELLLLOOOOOO CLEVELAND!" ::can't find way to stage::

Anonymous said...

Caroline, I´m proud of you. Think of summer always.

Take care,

Cathy said...

I found your blog through the BU contest results. My son was a runner-up. Your writing is powerful, funny and touching. I can tell it flows naturally from you and you, dear - are a talented, great gal. All the best to you and your parents who I know are concerned for you, but are also assuredly very proud.