We’re soon off to see the wizard, leaving for the infusion center in about an hour.
I’m not as scared this time, but I’m not sure which I prefer: ignorance or experience. I know it will be long. The cold cap will hurt. My stomach won’t stop doing back flips for a week. I’ll alternate being plugged up with its opposite. My brain will be fuzzy. My body’s reaction to chemo will make me temporarily virtuous, deaf to the siren calls of coffee and wine.
This whole process feels less dramatic this time. Yet it’s daunting that, counting today, I have to go through this five more times. What does that mean when you get used to chemo?
Over breakfast just now, I groan as I spoon 10 scoops of glutamine into a glass of orange juice. Glutamine helps with protein synthesis and is supposed to promote healing. Body builders pound the stuff. The docs think it may help ward off “neuropathy” — burning or tingling in my hands and feet, though they’re careful to say that this is anecdotal, not proved by a scientific, clinical trial. It worked last time. Or to be more accurate: I didn’t suffer neuropathy last time. Whether that’s because of the glutamine or due to stupid luck, I don’t know. Glutamine turns the expensive Odwalla OJ the color of a creamsicle. It goes down like citrusy grit. As the last gulp goes down, I shudder over dramatically and husband Pete says, “It could be so much worse, sweetie.”
“I know that!” I snap. Then, more gently, “Please don’t give me a lecture.”
He’s right: It could be so much worse. I could have chemo every week. I could have so many more side effects. If I had a certain type of leukemia, I might have to take Gleevec, a targeted drug, for the rest of my life. If I had another type of leukemia, I might need a bone marrow transplant, a horrific process that makes your bones ache from the inside out and changes the shape of your eyeballs and brings you to brink of death for a chance at life. There’s no end to up when it comes to money, or suffering.
But this is my little drama today. It’s my poison party and I’ll cry if I want to. Well, not really. I cried a little last night, but mostly because of the realization that this is becoming routine.