I have to admit that I was unprepared for chemo. I had no idea what to expect especially having been forewarned that everybody responds to it differently. I figured that rather than filling my mind with preconceived notions, it was best to wait and see what would happen with me.
The whole process is rather daunting. They hang a bag emblazoned with a skull and crossbones on the IV rack as they prepare to pump the toxic chemicals into your body. And as you sit, tethered to the machine, you try to keep your mind occupied. I was lucky. I had a friend tag along on my first infusion. We chatted nonstop and the time went rather quickly. I have packed a bag with books and magazines and music for the next session. Perhaps I will even try some mental imaging, I never was much of a gamer, but I can imagine the chemo eating up the bad cells, Pac-man style. They say that the mind is a powerful tool for healing if focused properly. Mine doesn’t seem to be as readily accessible these days. I think it is what they call “chemo brain.”
I did fine during the treatment. I had wild ideas of the liquid burning as it flowed through my veins. That isn’t true. Thank goodness. And the next day, I was a little tired, but otherwise, holding up just fine. But on day three, it hit me with a vengeance as my body revolted against the poison, complaining loudly at the assault. The nausea and fatigue were overwhelming, coming in waves that never let up through day four, in spite of the prescribed medication to prevent it. I have to admit that as I lay there trying to pray it away, begging God for a moment of respite, I wondered if I would have the wherewithal to face another seventeen weeks of it. I still do.
By its very nature, chemo attacks the good stuff, too, unable to differentiate between the cancer and the healthy parts as it does its job. Perhaps soon, research will bring something into the medical arsenal that will be more focused and selective. I think that is what Jimmy Carter got that brought him back from the brink of death. I am not a former President. I have to take what I am offered and my insurance company will cover. There is a hierarchy when it comes to such things, implied, but never stated.
And so, I think the reality has set in. There are logistical concerns that have now surfaced. Nutrition is going to be an issue if I am to stay healthy enough to engage in the battle. Hubby doesn’t cook, and I can’t. You can’t pull into the drive-through at McDonald’s and order up lean organic protein and veggies. The dust bunnies don’t realize that my house is now off limits and seem to multiply. The laundry piles up the way it always has. My plants on the patio are dying from lack of water. I am dependent on others for the things that I have always done for myself. And that is the most difficult part of this. Truly.
Nope, it isn’t going to be easy, in spite of what I perceive as my warrior spirit. I am going to have to fight for my physical recovery, my emotional well-being, my spiritual healing. And when I claim the victory, I will have earned it.
But life is always about lessons, and I seem to be on the accelerated program. I am learning that I am not in control of anything, that if I ever thought I was, it was just an illusion. I am learning that the people who love and care for me will be there, even when it is hard and unpleasant. I am learning that Jesus is ultimately The Great Physician, upon whom I depend for my strength and my healing. And I am learning that in spite of it all, there is much for which to be grateful. As long as there is life, there is hope.