Chemo Day One

Arrived at the infusion center this morning at 9 AM. I got up at 6 AM to do some yoga, which I’ve found extremely helpful physically and mentally.

The infusion center is at the doctor’s office. It’s an open room with nine reclining chairs, so you hear the side conversations of everyone around you. The nurse said sometimes the center becomes very social as patients and their guests share stories and chat it up.

My uncle called this morning at 7:30 AM to tell me that my aunt (his and my mother’s oldest sister Selina) died last night. She was 80 years old. To say that my mother’s relationship with her sister was complicated is an understatement. Out of respect for the recently deceased, I will withhold (for now) my thoughts and feelings about how she treated my mother. Suffice it to say this is another chapter in a long saga that has closed.

It’s going to be a long day here as my mother gets her first dose of chemotherapy. The oncologist here has changed the recipe from gemcitabine/carboplatin to gemcitabine/cisplatin. And instead of a three-week cycle, we’ll have a four-week cycle. It seems he is splitting the dose between two infusion appointments rather than loading her up at once. Most of our time here at the infusion center is spend hydrating her. She lost ten pounds (!) on Friday from the paracentisis (the draining of fluid from her abdomen) so they want to make sure she is well-hydrated.

Luckily they have wi-fi so I can squeeze in some work. We’ve come for the duration: I packed up a little canvas bag of snacks for my mom (baby carrots, cheese, crackers, apple sauce), and my mom’s “find a word” puzzles that she likes. I also loaded up a movie on my laptop for us to watch later today.

We watched a couple movies yesterday, including Monty Python’s “Holy Grail,” and it was great to hear my mom belly laugh through that. We took a couple strolls out the garden, where I picked lemons for her friend and she tossed some iron supplements under the tree and rolled some potted plants around to catch the rain.

Precious, those simple moments.

Evening Update

It was an epic chemo day, starting at 9 AM and finally leaving the infusion center at 6:30 PM. For the most part, things ran smoothly. But a few blips here and there gummed up the works. Next on the agenda this week is implanting a port to make it easier to access veins. The theory is that it will be easier to administer chemotherapy and draw blood on her weekly draws.

One promising sign was my mom’s interest in tacos. The patient a few chairs down was eating Taco Bell that her husband had brought — she devoured her tacos with gusto, and immediately asked for a barf bag. Eek. But my mom mentioned that they smelled really good. Eureka! It was the first time in the last three weeks that she demonstrated any interest in food.

Immediately after her treatment I went to the grocery store and bought up ingredients for chicken tacos. She ate half of one, which is a major milestone.

Now we wait for the next few days and see how she reacts. Cisplatin, which is considered the “gold standard” in treatment for many cancers, is notorious for its inducement of nausea and vomiting. The nurses loaded her up with anti-nausea drugs before the therapy and now we have two different kinds of medicine at home to help.

In any case, we’re bracing ourselves and hoping for the best.

1 thought on “Chemo Day One”

  1. Hi Em – Just letting you know that we’ve been thinking of you and Maria – I am so glad that she got some relief from the draining of the fluid – I can’t believe there was that much, and agree that it is crazy it took so long to suggest. Hang in there…R

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