Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Cancer-fighting is a full time job.

Rule 1: Have a plan.
Rule 2: Work the plan.
Rule 3: Be flexible enough to adapt the plan to unexpected contingencies.

We had decided that I would drive myself to radiation this morning so Judy could have a little time off. Also, one of our great friends would take me to chemo and afternoon radiation.

I got up extra early this morning because I felt kind of uncomfortable and so that I wouldn't feel rushed as I prepared for my solo radiation outing. We'd bought some new flexible disposable razors, yesterday, so I had a go at shaving my head without any help as well. I only cut myself twice - once on my scalp and once on my left ring-finger.

At the breakfast table, Judy said she was going to go to morning radiation with me after all, but she consented to let me drive. Unfortunately, the radiation therapy machine was on the fritz, so we were sent back home, right away. The technicians said that we'd just add another session to one of the days scheduled for a single shot.

We were a little bit dubious about that approach, but were at a loss for alternatives. Judy was especially concerned about the importance of having the double radiation days synchronized with the chemo course, and went so far as to pull out and peruse her copy of the Harvard study in the car on the way home.

At about 10:30, the radiation oncology technician called the house to say that Dr. Trivette was not content to add a second treatment on a different day, and wanted us to go to the satellite treatment center on Staples Mill Road. Our technician from St. Mary's would meet us there at 11:15.

This sounded better to us, but threw a monkey wrench into the plan for our friend to pick me up at the house at 11:30 to take me to chemo. Judy called the friend and told him that she would drop me off at chemo after the rescheduled morning radiation and asked if he could pick me up after chemo, take me to my afternoon radiation and then bring me home. He readily agreed.

Radiation therapy at the satellite facility was prompt and uneventful. Judy drove me to chemo, and wouldn't just drop me off, but came in to make sure I was properly settled in before she left. We had a few awkward moments once I was settled. She seemed conflicted about leaving me. After a bit, she asked why I hadn't fired up the movie on my computer. She said she was waiting for me to start the movie before she left. I'd been waiting for her to leave before I started the movie.

Both in the hospital and at the infusion center I had persistent occlusion alarms on my IV pumps. Finally, the nurse today took my saline drip out of the pump and let it drip just on gravity. This was so much more effective that she did the same thing with the Cisplatin. As a consequence, I finished up at 2:15 instead of 3:00.

This meant I had to wait a little longer for my 3:30 ride, but as I mentioned before, my relationship to the passage of time has become a bit more whimsical of late, and the wait seemed quite minor.

At least five hours must separate my two daily radiation treatments, so, we had a little time, and went to Bob Evans where I had a burger, and my friend had a truly bottomless cup of coffee. Then we went to St. Mary's where the equipment was all back in service and I had the last radiation treatment of the day.

I've done a small amount of on-line Christmas shopping and some packages had come in today. Also, my brother Tim and his family sent us a huge package of Lance Armstrong - Live Strong bracelets.

I'm getting weepy again, especially concerning the many prayers, rosaries, masses, cards, messages, dinners, phone calls and other generous gestures on our behalf. I'm attributing it to the chemo and to my Irish/French/Apache heritage. Extravagant kindess, nobility, courage, sacrifice and generosity are the most moving things I know. I'm surrounded by people from whom these qualities flow constantly.

At Bob Evans this afternoon, my friend told me he was sorry I have to go through this, and that if he could make it go away or make it so it had never happened, he would. But he also said he was grateful for the opportunity to rally with our other friends to help me and my family, that as humans we need opportunities to offer help and support, and that too often people who need help pull away from the ones who need to help them.

I was hard pressed to answer. I said I understood.

Maybe I'm starting to.


Blogger vkenny said...

Hi Jimmy, I'm happy things are going as well as they are and that Judy is on the ball regarding your treatment schedules. I found that the more chemo Ed received the less he was able to keep track of alot of what was being said and done to him. I brought a tape recorder with me to every doctor appointment and chemo session so we wouldn't miss a detail. I know a persons ability to be adaptable in these situations is another key factor in how everything works. As hard as it may be some days, just keep plugging along and accept the help & prayers of friends and family it will see you through.

9:28 AM  

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