The last few weeks have been particularly memorable, filled with several firsts (3 to be exact), and in my opinion, worthy of a big share with you.
1. For starters, we wanted to have one last “hoorah” before my first chemo treatment, and decided on a family daytrip to Palomar Mountain, a little escape from the mundane. I envisioned us picnicking lakeside, while Dave & the kids caught bluegills hand over fist. I would sit reading and fanning myself, and beam over my beautiful family frolicking in the sun.
No sooner had we driven the 2 hours up the hairpin, nausea-inducing mountain road, and found a postage stamp sized piece of shade, a certain child of ours “cast” sideways, directly into little Claire’s temple, creating a “fssstchh” sound…confirming secure placement. We froze. She panicked. A treble hook was buried into the softest part of her temple, one inch away from her eye. We were hours from a hospital. We hadn’t even picnicked.
2. Several days later, in a waiting room (unrelated to the hook fiasco), I sat reading, deeply entrenched in my latest obsession, All the Light We Cannot See. I bobbed Claire on my free knee. She whimpered about her tummy hurting, and I assured her that it was likely just due to the antibiotics from the treble hook impalement that was causing her nausea. She nodded in seeming agreement, then promptly vomited all over my novel, my legs, and the floor beneath us. (No image, I wouldn’t do that to ya’ll).
3. Several days after that, I had my first infusion. A 1/2 hour of pre drugs, and then 4 hours of chemo via infusion. The drugs are delivered through something called a port, which is a quarter shaped device that was surgically implanted below my collar bone.
Many people tried to prepare me, but I would liken it to childbirth. One needs to experience it, in order to identify with it. My sweet sister Anna came with me. We laughed and did silly stuff, mostly in the way you do when trying to diffuse a tense situation. I tried making Joe, my nurse, laugh a lot. He only laughed a little. There’s nothing wrong with his sense of humor, he just knows what’s ahead and wants to guide me well. Joe & me are going to be a team. I got tangled up in my rolling IV pole on the way to the bathroom and nearly went down. I pressed the red HELP button thinking it was similar to a flight attendant call button. The entire staff surrounded me in seconds. I only wanted some pretzels. Everyone knew it was my first time.
Then I got sick & I cried. And then I cried some more.
It was a rough week, but this is what I have to say about it.
1. After a trip to the ER, Claire has recovered beautifully from her impalement (just don’t get within a foot of her ear or she’ll kick you).
2. My book? I kept reading it. Clorox wipes can do amazing things for vomit smell. Anthony Doerr may be interested in obtaining my review, underneath the WSJ’s “Dazzling, Captivating Novel”. Mine would read “My child vomited all over this book, and I kept reading it, it’s just that good” Scary Mom, San Diego, CA”.
3, The way I felt after the first treatment was worse than I imagined, but ironically I am more at peace now, than I was before. Because isn’t it better to know something is terrible, then imagine that it might be? For example, as I type this I’m waiting for the chemo boogie man to jump out from underneath the couch to pull all my hair out, lash me with mouth sores, bone pain & hot flashes. All of these things…I’m just waiting to happen.
But then I remember what I believe, or more importantly, who I believe. Aren’t we to be “anxious for nothing” ? Aren’t we to present our requests, WITH thanksgiving? And let His peace, cover over us? All my head knowledge, everything I’ve used to encourage others, is now being put to the test. My heart is being tested. I’m remembering and re-reading an old favorite book of mine, Hinds’ Feet on High Places. “Then the Shepherd smiled more comfortingly than ever before, laid both hands on her head and said:
“Be strong, yea, be strong and fear not. Don’t ever allow yourself to begin trying to picture what it will be like. Believe Me, when you get to the places which you dread, you will find that they are as different as possible from what you have imagined…If you ever let Fear begin painting a picture on the screen of your imagination, you will walk with fear and trembling, where no fear is.”
My prayer, moving forward, is that. To not allow myself to begin trying to picture what it will be like, any of it. Not next month, not even tomorrow. Because there’s no fear where He is.
My next infusion is this Thursday (#2 of 8), if you could pray for me I would appreciate it!
I plan to use this blog to send updates & cathartic journaling your way, so stay tuned for my next entry so you can cheer me along!
Love you guys! Heidi