But I Got the Teddy Bear

Everyone gets anxiety dreams.  For many people, it’s being in your underwear while giving a speech, or missing a flight.  For me, it has always been the same thing: I am back in college, I have inexplicably forgotten to go to a class, I am not going to graduate, and I’m doomed to live for another year in my dorm room at West Hall.

Going back to chemo is a lot like that.  Dammit, I had graduated!  I got my teddy bear.  I was done and over.  I’d said my goodbyes.  And a little over 9 weeks later, I’m back. Same receptionist asking for my photo ID, although this is my 33rd visit to the infusion center.  The same waiting room, the same comfy chairs, the same friendly faces.  Juan, the medical assistant said it best, “It’s good to see you, but it’s not good to see you.”

It helped me that it was familiar.  I did go into a private room as it was a long (6 hour) appointment, but it was the same setup as the cubicles, with the comfy chair and and a TV.  It was very busy, I guess a side effect of being squeezed in, and the pharmacy was slow in delivering my medications. But eventually we got on with it.  Some steroid pills to start to help with the nausea, but which hype me up. Then 3 different bags of IV drugs, with time between to flush the line with saline.  Because they were all new drugs for me, they went in at a slow rate.  I didn’t have any reactions, so next time they should be able to go in faster.

It was boring.  I worked on some email on my iPad, then picked up a sock that I’m knitting. I exchanged texts with a cousin who lives in Sweden. I find that I don’t have much concentration in there because of frequent interruptions by the staff, so I don’t usually watch TV.  It went pretty well, except for a rather bizarre visit from another patient in the next room. I was glad to finish up and get home.

There were some things that were different.  They have to take my blood pressure on my leg as both of my arms are off limits because of the original surgery and the PICC line. Instead of having the same regimen every week, this is a three week cycle with different things each week.

But some things are the same.  The nausea. The insomnia. The headaches. Having to give myself shots the days after chemo to boost my white count.  Generally feeling like crap.

I know that there are women out there who go through this alone, without the support I have.  It is unimaginable to me. I get so much support from family, friends, and even strangers.  My husband has been a rock, along with the rest of my family.  There are some friends who are really teaching me the deepest meaning of friendship. I have the best online support group in the world, a bunch of knitters who are also fighting breast cancer. I’ve gotten mass cards and notes and good wishes from old family friends from around the world.  I’m grateful to all of you.

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One Response to But I Got the Teddy Bear

  1. Lori says:

    Catherine, I am so sorry you not only have to go through all this again, but also because it is
    so soon after your first set of treatments. Because I still have some lingering side effects from
    Taxol, I am pretty sure you have not fully recovered from it yourself. You are so strong to be
    able to keep this blog going. and to express yourself so beautifully. I think of you daily and you are in my prayers. Keep strong in faith and this, too, shall pass.

    I have 3 regular rad treatments to go and 5 e-boost treatments I. I am so looking forward to
    their ending. Going to the center five days a week is tiring.I still have to get Herceptin infusions
    until October My hair is finally coming back, but it is only 1/4′ long at best. Would you believe it was only recently that I noticed I lost my eyelashes.? Not being able to sleep is a thing of the past, but I still have a lot of neuropathy in my feet and hands.

    Bathe in the love of your family and friends and wrap yourself in the kindness of everyone.
    I know there are a lot of people out there rooting and praying for you.

    Hugs, Lori

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