Like certain recipes in baking, with chemo sometimes the ingredients need to go in a certain order or you end up with something very different than you expected.
We were very lucky ten years ago that nausea played a very small part in our journey. That was due, in no small part, to the alchemy of the drugs Rich received… and in what order. Always Ativan was administered at our request prior to the infusion of any of the chemo meds. Ativan is an anti-anxiety drug that is also found to help with nausea during chemo. Today we found out to our dismay that the same protocol wasn’t followed and Rich had a very difficult hour. Ativan wasn’t on his Rx list which delayed the administration of the medication, the infusion today was just the Rituxan instead of the whole bundle of chemo so nausea wasn’t a concern, whatever the reason, the recipe for success wasn’t followed.
The nurses stopped the infusion of the Rituxan, allowed Rich’s stomach to settle down, gave him an infusion of Ativan and his other prescribed nausea med Reglan. At that point, we also needed to get some pain meds since an hour of severe spasms had taken it’s toll.
While chemo is generally thought of as one big stomach upset, we need to be very careful. Since the tumor is in the lining of Rich’s stomach, there is a threat of perforation so it’s important that any cramping and seizing be kept to the minimum.
Thankfully, the meds kicked in and a new batch of proverbial cupcakes started as the Rituxan infusion was once again dripping… recipe followed, successful infusion. Julia would be proud.
But this also brings up the emotional toll that the whole process takes on the patient and the caregiver and how things like this, like the unsuccessful conscious sedation prior to the bone marrow biopsy, like the threat of yet another invasive procedure with the angiogram… all of that takes an emotional toll that makes you weary. It’s almost as if we make a pact with the universe: We’ll willingly do this if you promise… And then the universe pulls it all out from under you and you feel like everything you knew to be true is not. You lived up to your end of the bargain and dammit the universe did not. That weariness is not the same kind of tired you get from physical work or even from the effects of the poisons that are working their necessary magic. Nope… it’s a weariness… and exhaustion… that comes over you where you just want to crawl in a ball, eat ice cream, and let the world and these problems, all problems, wash past you. Sometimes, you just gotta take the time to sit and eat that ice cream and to process. That way you can get back up and start over again.
So once again, we thank the angels that keep us going… To our scouts and scouting families for a wonderful example this weekend of why we keep on. To Arlene and Kevin who got us to the city and enabled us to see Nick’s show and laugh out loud. To Pete and Tommy and Maria who made sure we got as the hobbit wrote “there and back again” To Richard for a good laugh with your fez pic of the day. To Emily for some needed contact throughout the afternoon. To Nick for some wonderful healing comedy.
To the nurses at Monter Cancer Center for their compassion and caring. To Amy for always checking in and providing some needed diversions. To Lannie for listening. To all of you who visit us here and on facebook… whether you leave a message or just stop by…knowing that you take a moment to check up on us gives us the strength to uncurl from that ball and carry on. To Julia Child, herself a cancer survivor (tho’ that’s a phrase she hated) and her chapter on amazing ice cream… Bon Appetit!