Notes From the Infusion Chair

Yesterday I had my regularly scheduled appointment with my oncologist, and maintenance infusion number 6.  It was an incredibly long day.  They always seem to be long and tiring, these appointment days.  My first appointment was at 9:30am, which means leaving the house at 7:30am to allow for traffic.  On a good day, not at rush hour, it should take under an hour to get to Georgetown from my house.  It has, though, taken two hours to get there, in bad rush hour traffic.  Yesterday, we (Jimmy, my wonderful  husband, drives me) left just before 7:30 and dropped our 14 year old son off at school on our way.  Traffic was normal for rush hour, and we parked at just about 9:00am.  They called me back right away, took vital signs as normal, then we wait.  Sometimes it's a short wait, sometimes it seems to take forever.  While we wait, we pass the time chatting and/or playing games on our phones.  Inevitably, my mind wanders.  It still seems surreal that I'm here.  I sit in the waiting room with people who are wearing scarves or hats.  Then the realization comes.  I'm one of them.  I'm not here with my father.  I'm not here with my sister.  It's me.  I'm the one with the scarf on her head because her hair hasn't grown back enough to be comfortable.  I'm the one....  I sit on the exam table in the gown that's too small ("open in the front") waiting, holding the list of questions I have for the doctor ... and my mind wanders.  Think of a pinball machine.  Do you remember pinball machines?  Remember how the ball would ricochet from side to side, all over the place?  That's my brain as I sit on the exam table waiting for the doctor, and again while I'm in the infusion chair.  I can't even cohesively tell you where my mind goes.  I feel sorry for myself.  I feel incredibly lucky.  I feel like I don't want to do this anymore.  I feel like I hope I can do this for a very long time.  I feel sad that my husband has to deal with this, and has had to put his health on the back burner so he can concentrate on mine.  I feel sad that my boys have to deal with this.  I feel proud that my boys are handling it so well.  I think again how I think I'm on the easier side of this patient/caregiver relationship.  All at once.  I have all of these thoughts, and more, all at once.  Xanax to the rescue.  Relaxing music to the rescue.  Reading a good book to the rescue.  Knitting to the rescue.  Reaching out and having the wonderful husband of mine take my hand to the rescue.  Sometimes one or two of these, sometimes all at once.  Then all of a sudden, it seems (although it's hours later), we're done.  Luckily rush hour hasn't started yet, so it's easy traffic on the way home.  I usually close my eyes, so thankful for my husband.

Some other thoughts while in the infusion chair:
I think about how, for three weeks, it seems as though we can almost pretend I'm all better.  Sure, I take a daily medication, and I get tired a lot, but it's not like I'm going through the hell that is chemo anymore, right?  Normal life has resumed.  Well, normal is a whole lot different now, but it's normal.  Then I sit on the exam table and hear the doctor tell me that it's time for a CT scan (it's been three months already?) and a bone scan, and that she's ordering extra bloodwork to check my Vitamin D level (email from nurse later in the day; I need to start taking a Vitamin D supplement).  It's never going to end.  Never can be a long time, right?  :)


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