Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Psalms 118:5-6)
From January 2016 through February 2017 (with a 3 month break in between)…this was my life:
Treatment was a 14 day cycle….which I did a total of 14 times
Day 1: Wake up at home. Read my Bible, eat breakfast and pack. In reality, there wasn’t much to pack because I didn’t fully unpack my overnight bag for a year and a half. I would leave everything in there and change out the clothes. Gather used syringes to dispose of in the sharps container at the hospital. Assess 8 different medications to see what refills I needed. Pack the car. Overnight bag; book/computer bag; pillow; blanket (you know those hospital blankets won’t do when you’re there all the time….they are so stiff!); mini coffee maker and coffee. Just the necessities for a nice weekend getaway to Vanderbilt. Say goodbye to Robby and the kids…I’d see them in a few days.
Arrive at Vandy around 9:00, park and go straight to labs. After labs are drawn, go to the admitting office to get checked in. I hurry to do those 2 things and then I wait…3, 4, sometimes 5-8 hours to get the call that my room is ready. To 11 North I go. There are 31 beds on 11 North, I got to experience nearly half of them. Once I am there….settle in. Setup my pillow and blanket. Transition from shoes to slippers. Put away toiletries and plug in the coffee maker. Get some music going, water filled, and snacks put away. Gotta do what you can before you’re tethered to the wall 24 hours per day.
Even though by this point I have been there all day (it was a good day if I got into a room by 4 pm), there was still more waiting before any treatment actually began. Sometimes they’re waiting on the Drs. orders. Other times the orders are in but pharmacy is behind making the drugs. Then sometimes you hit shift change and everything goes on standstill for at least an hour. Usually, by 11pm my pre-meds are getting started.
Day 2: About 1am the nurses are in to begin my first chemo…a push they have to sit at the bedside and give over 30 minutes. Then next is a 1 hour infusion, and the final…which runs over 24 hours. In addition to this there is constant fluid going so you get up for the bathroom at least every 2 hours. Fall asleep around 2:30am. 4 am they’re in for another set of vitals. A few minutes later it’s time for your daily weight. Then to go back to sleep for a whole hour or more! NOPE! The first resident or med student will be in by 5:30….maybe 6 if they’re running behind that day. Then shift change for the nurses at 6:45….so more vitals and exchange of report at your bedside. Respite for an hour or so, but the sun is coming up by this point, so I make coffee and begin reading my Bible…hoping for a good afternoon nap later. The Drs will come around about 9:00, then there’s somewhat of a break with the regular interruptions of vital signs being taken, meals being delivered and the like continuing. I read. I sleep. I visit with people. Take walks around the hallway with other patients. 16 laps = 1 mile. Some days I’d shoot for a mile, some days I’d shoot to just get out of the room.
Day 3: Tonight has no less interruptions than the first, because that 24 hour medication will finish the same time in the middle of the night that it was started….then there’s another 30 minute medication push. More vitals. Another daily weight….you get the picture. Then there’s the fact that you can only sleep in certain positions because again…you’re tethered. Then there’s the air bubbles. Those IV pumps are so good at detecting the potential harmful air bubble that is in your IV line that they will beep…constantly. Thankfully, with my background, I knew how to take my line out of the pump, get rid of the air and get it restarted….but that still required waking up every time the beep began.
Day 4: Looked much like the previous days, except without any chemo going…just fluids. At this point we are waiting for the medication to fully clear from my system. So labs are drawn on a regular basis. There were times the medication would be cleared on the first lab draw which was 24 hours after the medication had stopped infusing, so I would get to go home this morning. Toward the later months, however, the clearance process was taking longer, so I would have another night simply waiting, but with all the same interruptions.
Day 5: I usually got discharged on day 5. Usually first thing in the morning….sometimes not until 9:00 at night. Regardless of when….I was always SO ready to go home.
Days 6 & 7: Resting and spending time with my family. Catching up from the long days away. Catching up on homeschooling. Thankfully it was only Kindergarten.
Day 8: Back to Vandy I go. This was the second part of each round of treatment. If you read my previous post A Day in the Life part 1, this day looked identical to what I describe there, just different chemotherapy drugs.
Days 9 & 10: Lots of sleep. Nausea medications around the clock, some of which were steroids so I’d be awake at night and tired during the day. That was not bothersome though, I was just glad to be home.
Days 11-14: Gradually feeling better with day 14 being my best! Then the merry-go-round began again.
Out of my distress (sickness/isolation) I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free (physically/mentally/spiritually). The Lord is on my side (knows what I’m feeling/is fighting for my complete healing); I will not fear. What can man (cancer/suffering) do to me? Psalms 118:5-6
(Words in parentheses added by me)