Thank you for your good wishes and prayers.
But, well, I bagged. I couldn’t go through with it. For the first time that I can remember, I declined chemo mid-process.
The anticipatory nausea started when I entered the blood draw area. I was holding it off, but then the nurse injected TPA into my port, which made me light-headed and more nauseous.
When I left the blood draw area an hour later, I noticed that the waiting room was PACKED and abuzz. There should not be this much cancer in the world. The air felt heavy as I walked through the waiting room filled with a sea of people of every age and type suddenly floating around me – bearing surgical scars, breathing through oxygen tubes, slouching in wheelchairs and wearing masks and gloves.
I plowed ahead to the elevator to see my doctor, as scheduled. During our conversation, the nausea let loose full force. Multiple times. Lovely. Thankfully, I travel with vomit bags. Handy dandy for times like these.
Usually, after seeing my doctor, I have to sit in that waiting room to wait for my chemo to be ordered and my infusion to begin, but the DFCI people are SO NICE. The nurse arrived and walked with me through the back entrance, bypassing the waiting room and going directly to my chair in the infusion center. After I sat, I was barely holding it together and every time I looked at the anti-nausea meds I was supposed to take, I would vomit again.
My chemo was scheduled to start at 10:15. At 12:30, I was still sitting there, sick and crying and saying that I really couldn’t do this. The man next to me had the TV blaring. The woman across from me was meeting with a dietician and discussing food options. Lunch was being delivered on a cart. I tried to be zen about it all.
“Let’s try giving you some fluids,” seems to be the answer to every problem.
“I don’t want fluids. I just want to stop vomiting,” I said, two words at a time, between bouts.
The nurse gave me some IV anti-nausea meds, then, when my stomach calmed down, asked me to think it over.
I thought that I should continue my treatments. I thought about the kids, that I should do absolutely everything for them. I thought about just getting this one round underway and done. I considered that it might get better. I thought about fulfilling my commitment to 8 sessions, much like we expect the kids to finish whatever activity for which they ask us to sign them up and pay for. I thought about how I would handle the situation if I were the mom and this were my child resisting and begging not to do it. I don’t know what I would do, but I vowed to be kinder the next time my kids resist doing something.
The social worker magically appeared to help me think through this. Perfect timing. Love the serendipity.
At 1:30, the doctor, nurse and social worked all asked what I wanted to do. By now, Tiron had arrived to hold my hand.
“I want to go home. I’m tired. I feel sick. This doesn’t feel right.” Not that chemo ever feels right.
This is unusual for me. Once a process is underway, I suck it up and go with it, no matter what. If it is stopped, it will not be because of me. But I just couldn’t do this round. It felt way too hard. I guess I do have a breaking point.
Once home, I showered to create a fresh start and groggily picked up one son from school. I thought he would be thrilled, but instead he reminded me that surprises aren’t always his thing.
“Why didn’t you tell me? I didn’t expect you.” Back to the real world, and so grateful.