Days 1-5 of Chemo
First, I would like to thank any of you that have donated blood, you may well have saved my life as I required two units on Thursday. For those of you sitting on the fence, you really can make a difference.
I was admitted on Monday for my first round of chemo; five days of inpatient. I had no idea what to expect on this journey and five days is a lot to capture and wrap my mind around. I can say that above all else, the decision to come back home to Boise for my care was without a doubt, the best one. My care was exemplary and the providers and staff could not have been more nurturing or skilled. Their kindness was so appreciated.
I was blessed with numerous friends and family visits, nearly 40 people came to see me; my room was deemed the party room and for good reason. I had up to 9 people at one time in my tiny, L-shaped room that really only had room for my bed, the nurse's station a single chair and a "two-butt" chair. There is something to be said about small spaces though, it was intimate and lively and filled with hope and happiness. I couldn't have asked for more. Except maybe some additional sleep, but that was on me, I didn't want people to leave. When I was alone, I was alone. In my own head, in my thoughts and with my fears. While I needed sleep and craved it, it was not until Wednesday night that the sandman decided to whisk me away.
The days were harder once I slept. I think the adrenaline of no sleep kept the thoughts at bay, but with rest came the realization of the drugs, the time lying there, the reality of my disease and my situation.
The drugs were intense. There were so many I could in no way list them all and it would be overwhelming and frightening to do so. To put it into perspective, the first day was the easiest day of the drugs and there were at least a dozen that I can count off the top of my head; all kidding aside. Each night once I thought I was done with my drugs for the day I was given a pill cocktail and a shot in my belly, as if there wasn't enough already going on.
Cancer sucks. This fight sucks. But the people and the relationships are, dare I say, worth it. I have learned so much about myself and others and this past week was another testament to the spirit of good people and friends. I wish I could name each person who touched my journey this week and give a recitation of their interaction with me, but that would be impossible, as there just isn't enough room on this page. I would however, like to take the opportunity to speak about one person, a beautiful Indian lady I met the first night of my stay, her name was Jane.
Jane was my first night nurse. She was calm and lovely, a bit older than I but not by much. She was wise and it shown in the creases of her eyes. Jane was soft spoken with her slight accent but her words were profound. She knew I was scared, my nervous chatter obviously hadn't fooled her and she asked if she could pray for me before I slept. I told her I would appreciate that and got ready for bed. She asked me to lie down comfortably and told me that she would be doing a touch prayer. She told me that all she wanted me to do was to "focus on God" while she prayed.
I am not sure what I expected, I guess that she would be audible during her prayer, that her words would give me the direction to do the focusing as she requested, but that didn't happen. Jane didn't say a word. I closed my eyes and she placed her hands on my feet. Her hands were hot, like she had just ran them under water or rubbed them together, which she had not. She was silent and my mind was racing. "How do I focus on God?" "What do I say?" "What am I supposed to be doing?"
Jane moved her hands to my ankles and then I heard myself say in my head, "Thank you God. Please take away my sickness. Please take away my pain." Jane moved her hands then to my knees and spent extra time on my right knee as it had begun to hurt, which she knew. I continued in my head, "Thank you God. Please take away my sickness. Please take away my pain." Jane moved her hands, still amazingly warm, to my hips and rested them there, I continued my mantra in my head. She then moved to my stomach and then to my clavicle, my neck, my face and the top of my head. All the while I continued with, "Thank you God. Please take away my sickness. Please take away my pain." Jane repeated the process backward down my body the way she had started until the process was done, ending by holding my hands, both of us silent.
She pulled the covers of my bed over the top of me and I laid with my eyes still closed. She thanked me for allowing her the Blessing of prayer. A huge tear fell out of my right eye as I thanked her, what more could I say.
This woman, this complete stranger to me who did not owe me any more than decent care, gave of herself in a way that I have never had. She touched me with her healing prayer, she eased my way into the next four days of chemo and through that first frightful night alone. This woman, of different culture and race became for me the beautiful face of my initial experience through chemo.
I will never forgot this journey nor these people who have been involved in it, and I pray I continue to feel the presence of God through his works of others.
I cannot thank you all enough for all of your prayers, your kind words, thoughtful gifts and time spent with me. I hope that I am the kind of friend to you that you are to me.
I love you all!