This is my third attempt in three weeks at writing a new blog post – hopefully not another false start. The first post, which I started on my last day in the hospital, was to be entitled “One Flew Over the East River.” It was to be a lengthy, humorous account of my week in a four person room on the oncology ward. Though I did bond with a couple of the ten plus roommates that came and went throughout the course of the week, there was one woman who was there for a good chunk of my stay who I’m pretty sure had tourette’s syndrome. I made the mistake of asking the nurses to ask her to turn down her TV one night (she was the only of the four of us who refused to use headphones). She subsequently directed her anger, not at me, but at my other roommate, whose medicine made her gassy. Her epic belches and loud, perpetual flatulence were all met with a string of expletives from behind curtain number four. By my last night in the hospital, I was shacked up with three women with varying levels of dementia. Yes, this is a very sad thing. But let’s just say my compassion was put to the test.
The second blog post I started was to be called ‘The Red Herring Strikes Again.” Upon release from the hospital, one of my IV sites was swollen, red, hot. That, coupled with lingering side effects from the treatment (chills, fever, nausea) landed me in urgent care, and subsequently on a course of two different antibiotics, just in case, which resulted in complete loss of appetite, constipation, and lethargy. Although I was fairly certain that the combination of Bactrum and Amoxicillin was the culprit, when you have a GI system full of tumors, any stomach issues make you think you are dying, imminently. There were a lot of tears that week.
The moment I finished up the antibiotics – which coincided with a visit from April, one of my best friends on the planet – my appetite returned, I resumed daily poops, and I sprung back to life. I spent the week feeling like a million dollars. Although we mostly sat around playing cribbage and having the kind of marathon conversations that make you feel both brilliant and understood, I did manage to have an entire day in NYC, topped off with a concert at Prospect Park (Bela Fleck – YASS!!) with a handful of people I love, where I didn’t feel tired or ill or sorry for myself. It was like having a brief vacation from cancer. Which is why, when my chills, fevers, nausea returned with a vengeance the next day, I was gutted. The vacation just wasn’t long enough.
Fortunately, Tylenol kept my symptoms at bay enough not to have to go to the emergency room last night, though I did wake up hourly to take my temperature. I spent today getting two units of blood to amp me up for my next round of treatment, which starts on Monday. When I arrived at the cancer center today, I got hooked up to the blood and slept for the next six hours. Again, I had side effects. I was under the impression that the side effects from these IL2 drugs were going to be acute, meaning that they would happen only on days when I was treated. I see now that this may not be the case. The only consolation in feeling so shitty is the knowledge that fevers are often indicative that your body is working hard to fight disease.
My decision not to have any visitors during my last hospitalization was a good one – though my mom, sister and a cousin were there for a chunk of it, and a few friends popped in when I spontaneously felt up for some company. But it allowed me to develop really close relationships with my nurses and the ability to tune the world out completely when I needed to. And so I’m going to go with the no visitors policy again for this round. I’m hoping my fevers remain manageable tonight and tomorrow, partly so I can enjoy my last day of freedom but mostly so I don’t have to be admitted early… I’ll be REALLY pissed if I have to miss Game of Thrones.