Final Chemo Treatment. Well, that’s done. Thank G-d. None of the Chemo’s were a picnic, and not one of them pleasant, but Oh My Heavens watch out for that last step, it’s a doozie.
A little under 2 weeks before my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah I sat (4 hours) through my final Chemotherapeutic Infusion. Ha ha ha, “therapeutic,” as IF. Never before have I been struck so forcefully by the vast difference between the connotation of the word “therapy” (healing, restful, invigorating) and the results of this particular therapy, which is not so much those things. Think “opposite world.”
Two days after the infusion my legs felt like I’d completed a 20 mile marathon, without any training, the day before. When I got out of bed (which I did as little as possible), my knee caps and ligaments seemed to be made of cardboard and yarn, which I was sure were about to collapse. My fingertips felt so bruised that it was a challenge to operate my phone. My muscle tissue was, again, tender to the touch. My mouth seemed to be entirely coated with a substance much like white Vaseline, both obliterating taste while creeping me out. And, I was so tired. I spent the better part of 4 days in bed.
Previously, the worst aspects of my symptoms had let up by the end of the weekend following an infusion, but not this time. I’d say I was back up to “operational” Wednesday evening — three days before Rebecca’s big day and three days after the norm. Fortunately I was neither entirely unprepared nor on my own. This is where “good stuff” got into full swing.
Family, family, family. It’s precious and you should never cast it off, abuse it, or under
appreciate it. If I could make a plea here, it would be to treat your family with the utmost care and respect available in your being
, and see how it returns to you. By the way, my own observation would be that, disregard and neglect reap relatively equally negative rewards. Just sayin’.
Honest to goodness, just like some fantastic Super-Hero, my sister Joan flew in from Philadelphia on Tuesday (the day before I was up to speed), and she jumped in to determine what still needed to be done and how best to accomplish the desired results. No kidding. I was at my “Chemo-Brain” decision unworthy zenith, barely mobile, and, there she was.
I had Old Lists, New Lists, Already Done Lists, and Out-Moded Lists, as I sat in a Confounded State of Inertia, and she helped me shift everything into a fresh “What To Do” list that was actually do-able. I should also reveal at this point that I had an otherwise sensitive husband who suddenly felt moved to add to our list (after all, we now had Joan to help). Here’s me . . . “Great idea! (you couldn’t have mentioned it a month ago?) Yes! we can do that too! (REALLY? NOW YOU ASK?!?!) Okay then! (How much will THAT cost?) & What-EVER.”
And guess what? It all got done. Food was mostly desserts which had been arranged and accomplished by our party planner before my last down time, only requiring the adjustment of last minute added salty snacks for a cocktail half-hour while family portraits were being done after the ceremony. Decorations were largely covered by the same party planner, but I had already ordered, received and provided Eiffel Towers for center pieces on tables, and decals for general extra enhancement. New to – do, find flower petals for candle lighting table, set up and attend a rehearsal, make time for out-of-town family attending service.
Shockingly, RSVP’s were still coming in those last few days. By which I mean, this is not shocking, but really standard. “Put them at table 5!” Joan helped with delivering “Welcome To The Event” bags to hotels, and finding the last minute, “we need socks for the dance floor, and frames for the photos, and items “For Your Convenience” in the bathrooms, and placing those pre-ordered decals on walls for decoration, and, her very existence prevented me from curling into a fetal position for the duration. She did everything she could to make me look good.
Things looked a little like this:
Joan, anxious for me. Me with eye brows (drawn in) and looking as good as one can bald.
Joan, The Bat Mitzvah Girl, and Mom, one of whom needs professional help (ah, that would be me).
The point of it all.
Brunch buffet the day after, compliments of my husband’s catering skills, my Mother-In-Law’s Noodle Koogle, and my sister Betsy’s help setting it all up!
Me and Betsy.
So you see, even under devastating constraints, you can make a celebration. Even if my own outlook were not as optimistic as it truly is, I would have planned this. I would have helped this moment happen. With my own family’s hands-on help, and my husband’s family help; please know they offered and provided continuous help as well — making time and reservations for us, schlepping me to appointments, financially . . . in short, in every way one could ask. I ask that you remember to ask for the help that is there and waiting.
Now I have one full week to take a break and prepare myself for Round 2 — Radiation. For the next month and a half Chemo-Girl will be Radioactive-Chemo-Girl. And then, I will be regular old wife, mother and rider of Brody again. Which will suit me fine. Would that it were now. Until then, watch for Radio-Activity here at this site, be well, and keep your appointments!