My wife and her soon to be husband take me to round 5 of chemo. I've been getting progressively more tired so I ask Boris to spend the following day with me at home instead of coming to chemo. The waiting room is packed and after waiting 30 minutes, Anne asks if I will get started in a private room and she'll move me as soon as a chair opens up. I sigh, but want to get this over with, so I agree. Anne asks how I've been feeling as she takes my blood. Unfortunately, I caught a cold from Miles that morning and feel like death. I can barely breathe and am nervous that the doctors won't let me get this round of chemo. Anne says that unless I have a fever or other infection, it's not a problem. "Just get better by next week," she says. Um, okay.
I tell Anne that in addition to my normal side effects, I've had a ringing in my ear for the past 1.5 weeks. Initially, I didn't think anything of it. But then I was speaking to a pregnant with cancer friend of mine who has finished treatment and she was telling me that she recently freaked out because she had some persistent pain in her elbow. Although her husband thought she was crazy, she was convinced she had elbow cancer and insisted on getting an x-ray (came back normal - phew). I didn't think she was crazy but we laughed (so sick, I know) about elbow cancer since we don't even think that exists. I started telling her that I might have ear cancer and described the ringing in my ear, but then it dawned on me that it could be brain cancer and suddenly didn't think it was so funny. So, I tell Anne about the ringing and my possible brain cancer. "I'm so glad that you're such a good advocate for yourself," Anne says "but you don't have brain cancer." "How do you know?" I ask. Anne asks if I've researched brain cancer. Of course I have. "Of course you have," she laughs. "In your research did you find ringing in one ear a symptom?" Um, no. I found signs like persistent headaches, blurry vision, loss of balance, dizziness, but no ear ringing. But...you never know. It could be a rare side effect and I am rare. Nitasha's fiance is an ER doctor so he asks if he can look in my ear. He doesn't see anything except for some wax (which I'm pretty sure he called by its medical name "goober.").
I also ask Anne a ton of questions about my next cycle of chemo and my side effects and ways to ward them off. I tell her that I've heard the steroid causes horrific bone pain and ask if it's possible not to get it. "What did Dr. McAndrew say?" she asks. I tell her that Dr. McAndrew says I'll need it because the risk of infection is so high. Anne wants to know why I'm asking again, but I tell her that I ask everyone I can about everything I can because I want as much information as I can get. Yes I chose Dr. McAndrew because I was most comfortable placing my life in her hands, but I still want second, third, fourth and fifth opinions. Anne tells me that a Percocet or Darvocet will help with the pain. I ask her if medical marijuana is more effective. It's more natural so I'd rather be high on weed than Percocet (I think. I'm not sure which is more dangerous with a newborn). Unfortunately, she tells me that marijuana is great if I'm nauseous, but won't help with bone pain. Oh well.
Anne returns with my blood results and my white counts are even higher than usual due to my cold, but I get the green light to start my infusion. I don't wait too long before I'm told I can move to a chair, but after packing up all my belongings and heading towards the chair, someone else sits down in it. My instinct is to play the cancer card to get the chair, but then I remember that they have cancer, too, so that's not going to work. I head back to the private room. Anne tells me that she almost played the pregnant with cancer card to get me another chair, but refrained. I wait about an hour and then settle in to my chair.
Angela comes by to see how I'm doing. She tells me how wonderful I look (but of course) and asks if I feel beautiful. I'm caught off guard because it's the weirdest question I've been asked so far. Do I feel beautiful? Hmmm. I'm 7 months pregnant, bald, have acne and 1 chin hair. So, I have to vote no. But instead I smile and say "not so much, but thanks." Angela asks if I want antibiotics for my cold which I definitely don't. I thought I had made it clear that I don't want to take any additional medications, not even a Tylenol for a raging headache, but I guess I wasn't so clear. I'll save the pill popping for after Miracle Warrior's arrival. Apparently, I'm going to need it.
After 2 hours, I already feel like shit. Cold and breathing problems aside, I'm groggy and realize I feel nauseous. The smell of the hand soap at Tower is making me sick. Dr. McAndrew stops by to see how I'm doing. We discuss my cold and then I tell her about the ringing in my ear and possible brain cancer. She places my face in her hands, smiles, and tells me how relieved I'll be when I can have my scans. She assures me that the ear ringing is not a side effect of my chemo and it's highly unlikely it's a sign of brain cancer. "Please concentrate on feeling good and having a healthy baby," she says. "You'll have your scans as soon as you deliver, but for now, let's get through chemo and having a baby." I ask her again about my delivery date and whether I can deliver at 38 weeks instead of 37. That will mean I'll have 10 weeks in between my chemo regimens. "Do you think I'm risking my life by taking a 10 week break between treatments?" I ask. "I really don't," she answers. Of course there is no data whatsoever on what the delay between treatments means for me, but I trust her and like the answer, so I'm going with it. I'm going to start looking into possible birthdays when I get home. Maybe there's a lucky number or day that means health or life or something that I can choose. And I think I prefer Aquarius over Pisces, although I need to do more research.
I spend the remaining hours shopping online, my favorite passtime. Although I have a trillion new books on fighting cancer, raising fabulous children and child development, I can't bring myself to read any of them. I just collect. With my taste in music being what it is, Amazon.com thinks I'm a 12 year old girl with cancer and 14 children (but apparently I'm quite old because a friend recently reprimanded me for buying Cd's instead of buying albums on iTunes and Boris forbade me from buying Britney's new album on Amazon because the "new items" Amazon suggests for him are "humiliating.").
The treatment finally ends and I get to go home to Miles. He's still napping when I get home. I'm thrilled to be home when he wakes up so I can get him from his crib and get in some good snugglage before he's off and running. He's getting more cuddly in his old age and finally prefers me over most people (it's about time!). I've been complaining his whole little life that he really could care less whether I'm around or not and would enviously listen to moms I know talk about separation anxiety. While we still don't have any separation or stranger anxiety (not complaining), Miles does occasionally seek Boris and I out and doesn't spend all of his time with complete strangers (although this weekend he literally traversed an entire soccer field while Boris waited to see what his "comfort level" was with distance before I insisted that Boris follow him because he has no fear and didn't look back once as he ran farther and farther away and ultimately joined a group of 20something soccer players and their dogs). Now he'll run up to me yelling mama and throw himself into my arms. It's the best thing ever.
5 rounds down, 1 more to go.