It is more important to know where you are going, than how long it takes to get there.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Three Out Of Four...

Yesterday I went to Mass General Cancer Center for my usual day before chemotherapy lab work. I would normally have my check-up on this day, but because I changed nurse practitioners, I had my check up today, before chemotherapy.

There was a little misunderstanding about the lab check-in procedure, making me wait almost an hour. I didn't mind too much because people watching was as good as inside an airport. While I was waiting, a very pretty young woman in her 20's, or maybe early 30's, came over, introduced herself and asked me about the technique I used to wrap my head with my scarf, a beautiful Hermes scarf. (Neighbor Mary loaned me three gorgeous Hermes scarves.) To explain how I wrapped my head, I whipped the scarf on my head and demonstrated how I folded, wrapped, and twisted it around my head. Yes, I did this in a waiting room full of people. I have no problem baring my head in public. I just don't walk around with a naked head, except in my neighborhood. Back to the young woman from Salem...she was waiting with her young husband for her first chemo treatment. She has stage 3 Hodgkin's lymphoma, blood cancer. She told me that stage 3 lymphoma is curable, but stage 4 lymphoma is most often fatal. Very scary. She has 6 months of chemotherapy, with cycles every other week. This make my 2 months of treatment look like a cake walk. Miss Salem has beautiful long hair, and is concerned about losing her hair. She is going to buzz or shave her head before it begins falling out. Her doctor told her that it would take a month before her type of chemotherapy makes her hair fall out. I think shaving is a good idea, especially with long hair. Waking up in the morning with a giant spider web of hair in your face, and a nest of hair on your pillow, is disgusting. I send her many good wishes and prayers.

Today my 8:00 a.m. check up with the new nurse practitioner went well. She knew everything about me before she came in, perhaps except my shoe size. She knew that we moved here from just outside Napa, she knew that I have two girls, and she knew that I was having strange and painful ankle pain, and best of all she knew about my surgeries and cancer treatment. She grew up in San Francisco, moved to New England when she was 12, but moved back to California after nursing school. We had a lot of California talk. (You can take the girl out of Northern California, but you can't take Northern California out of the girl.) I just now realized that I forgot to pick up my medicine for thrush that I developed as a side effect of chemotherapy. My sore throat is caused by thrush. Thrush is a bacteria that forms in the mouth, and is most commonly found in babies.

I am having difficulties with my memory, and I forgot to tell Nurse California about my memory loss when I gave her my laundry list of side effects. I talked to my mom on Saturday, and she mentioned that I was repeating some of the same stuff from our Friday phone call. After I hung up, I told Chubba that I had no recollection of speaking with her on Friday. This bothered me, and the more I tried to recall our conversation, the more I was sure I didn't speak with her. Chubba and Riley assured me that they saw me sitting on the couch and talking with her on Friday. I forget other things as well, but nothing major. I also tend to repeat myself because I don't remember what I said to whom. Not only am I losing my hair, but I am losing my marbles.

My laundry list of side effects for these two weeks: hair loss, sore throat-thrush, difficulties sleeping, metallic taste, slight nausea, exhaustion, memory loss, and some bathroom related stuff of which I will spare you the details. Other than these minor inconveniences, I feel great!

Molly (9) went with us to chemotherapy today because I wanted to take the mystery out of it for her. Holding hands while walking into the hospital she asked me, "How many years do you have to go to medical school?" She liked observing the needle as it was inserted into my port and the I.V. drips hooked up. She said that it looked the same of the I.V. she had when she was hospitalized two years ago for severe asthma, except she had the needle in back of her hand. She was very intrigued with the reflexology/accupressure on my feet. She asked Magic Hands several questions. She asked about the map on the feet and where the spine is located. She asked if I feel it in my body as she works that part of the body. She also asked if you can use this technique to work on emotions. The monster called chemotherapy didn't seem so monstrous after all. Much to Riley's (15) chagrin, I am taking her to my last treatment in two weeks. When the needles come out, she will definitely look away.

I have three out of four cycles completed. I am going to celebrate after the fourth chemo, but not sure how I will celebrate. My sister would say, go buy a new pair of shoes.

Whacky thought for the day...
I believe that there are three places where it is appropriate to dress up a bit: church, travelling via airplane, and the doctor's office. Church is obvious, I hope. Spending at least $300 for flying - I would dress well for any $300 event. Plus is you need something, and the airline employee must make a judgement call, (they have more power to make changes than you know,) Chubba and I observed that you will get much further with them if you are dressed well and are polite. (Chubba travelled three out of four weeks with Nike, tons with New Balance, and numerous trips to Asia the past 18 months and with JMI.) I try to dress well for the doctor's office, even when I don't feel well. I think they take you more seriously when questioning the prescribed treatment for aches and pains when you put a little effort in your appearance. We all don't want to believe that we are judged by how we dress, but it is a proven fact. Too bad, because I love comfy sweats!


  1. Hey Keval,
    Back in town and I just got caught up on your last few posts. So sorry I had to miss the Party, what an incredible show of support from the kids! Sounds like Molly had an interesting day yesterday.

    You continue to amaze and inform me with your strength and wit! Hang in there.


  2. So nice to be featured so positively in your blog. Just to ease the nerves of anyone reading, I'm not sure that I would say Stage IV is mostly fatal, although it can be. I think a big problem with Stage IV is that via the necessary radiation or spreading of the cancer, it can become other types of cancer.

    It was so nice to meet you, Keval. I was determined that I was going to meet another patient my first day, and you just shone like a beacon.

    Thanks for our lovely chat and the kind words :)
    Miss Salem
    P.S. I've been watching old Sinead O'Connor vids and feeling much more confident about pulling off "the buzz" ;-)