**Click here to start reading at the beginning of my cancer journey.**
**Click here to start reading about my chemo treatments from Round 1.**
June rolled around, and so did Round 4. Bubba turned 10 months old and was standing on his own. He was crawling all of over the place and was doing great with climbing on and off of the couch safely.
My mom came again for round 4. It was nice to see her again when she got there Monday night; but it was late, so I was already in bed, preparing for Tuesday morning, which came too soon. Mom was up and ready for Bubba when he got up. We all ate breakfast, I took my benedryl, and they dropped me off at chemo. We already knew that I would most likely get sick quick, so she didn’t stay.
I had my bag of “goodies” to occupy me while I was at chemo…my Bible, a blanket, the Kindle, and my phone. Things started like “normal”. I was able to read my Bible for a while, and when I started feeling woozy, I put it away and played games on the Kindle. When that got to be too much, I put everything away and just rested.
But I couldn’t rest for long. You see, I have a history of migraines that are triggered by smells. Well, there was another patient receiving chemo in the recliner next to me, which was not a problem and was nothing new. The problem was that he smelled…like cigarette smoke, one of my migraine triggers. I tried sucking on my butterscotch (which usually helped to alleviate the smells and relieve my migraine), but it didn’t work. I knew I was going to get a migraine if I didn’t get away from the smell quickly.
But what do you do? You can’t just holler for the nurse and tell her that someone stinks! So, I texted her! (She is an amazing woman who had given me her phone number a few weeks before, after round 1 when I was so sick. She was also an ICU nurse, so if I needed fluids on the weekends, I could call her and she would “hook me up”…literally.) Anyways, I text her and she just casually walked in and escorted me to the lobby to finish my chemo there.
While in the lobby I met a new “friend”. I had met lots of “friends” at chemo but not all are good influences. This “friend” was a chronic complainer. Everything was wrong; nothing could go right; the world should just end. You know that kind of person.
Well, after spending my afternoon with Complaining Carol, the nurses decided that I would be best served to have my own “private” treatment room for the remainder of my treatments. I was ok with that.
I made it through the chemo at the oncology center and my friend took me home. After a nap, some dinner, and more resting, my Mom surprised me with a bag of Doritos. We found that the flavoring in these “bad boys” is so strong that I could actually TASTE them over my chemo!
The worst part about round 4? The neuropathy. It got so bad in my throat that I couldn’t breathe. It hurt to breathe. I couldn’t catch my breath. We figured out that it was because of the air conditioning. We were in the middle of a ten-day 100*+ temperatures, so our air conditioning was running CONSTANTLY.
Thankfully, Hubby figured out a solution, although it was not easy and required lots of coordination. Here’s what we did. I pretty much stayed in the bedroom during the day, so he kept pillows over the vents in our bedroom but left the one in the adjoined bathroom uncovered. Whenever I was going to move the living room, the vents in the living room and kitchen had to be covered but the vents in the bedroom could be uncovered to cool down the bedroom. So, I had to “announce” when I was moving rooms so pillows could get situated. I felt guilty just moving around my house because of how much work other people had to do.
Another solution: a hot washcloth. We found that if we wet a washcloth and microwaved it, I could cover my mouth with it (but not smother my nose) and it would warm up the nerves in the throat and lungs so I could breathe easier.
So, here I was: 100*+ temps, covering air conditioning vents, breathing in hot steam from a washcloth. Hey…whatever works!
Round 4 ended as normal and I couldn’t WAIT to get the pump off. Mom treated me to McDonald’s again (double cheeseburger and fries) and then put me to bed. It took about 5 days for the neuropathy to dissipate from my hands, feet, throat and lungs. But it did go away eventually, so we were thankful. The rash took a few days, but it went away too.
The rest of round 4 was “normal” with our new routine. I was thankful for time with my little family unit and got to enjoy some sunshine outside while sitting in the shade. Bubba loves blowing bubbles, but this Mama couldn’t blow without getting dizzy…thankfully they make automatic bubble blowers! A gift from heaven!
Round 5 came sooner than I wanted it to, yet not soon enough. Even though I was only 1/3 through the rounds, I just wanted to get them finished and move on with life.
My mom was our helper again. Although my parents were in the process of closing on the house they were buying in Florida, she took the time to drive ten hours to help me with this round. I will be forever grateful.
While Mom was driving to me, I did my “normal” Monday stuff…getting bloodwork done, cleaning house, doing laundry, prepping food, etc. I tried to play with Bubba as much as possible, not knowing when I’d feel well enough to play with him again.
Tuesday came and so did chemo. Mom dropped me off and my friend from church was to pick me up and bring me home. When I got to the oncology office, the nurses showed me to my “private” room. It had a comfortable recliner, I could spread my “stuff” out wherever I wanted, and I could even turn the light out if I wanted to rest. The only downside to this room was that there was no television. At first I was disappoint, but nausea over swept me soon enough and I wouldn’t have been able to watch it anyways. This allowed for more time for prayer and rest.
After they hooked me up to the pump, my friend took me home. As soon as I got home and into the bedroom, my breakfast decided it didn’t want to be my stomach anymore. I had gotten home a bit earlier than normal so Bubba wasn’t down for his nap yet, although it was about that time. Mom quickly got me my “puke bucket”, held my hair back, helped me to the bathroom, and got me back into bed. Since Bubba was awake for this, we had to shut the door to the bedroom and listen to him cry. I didn’t want him to see me like this and I couldn’t have him getting into the puke or the chemo pump. You do what you gotta do sometimes, and then you cry about it later.
Tuesday and Wednesday seemed to progress “as normal” – lots of nausea, hives, neuropathy in my limbs and lungs (we had to continue to be aware of the A/C), limited liquids, very tired and weak. The only bright side to round 5 was one word that I heard that I had been waiting to hear for a long time…
“Mama!” Bubba had finally learned to say “Mama” and use it appropriately, even if it was when he was crying as my mom carried him away from my bedroom door back down the hallway.
Thursday finally came and I was able to get the pump removed. I reported to the nurses that the neuropathy seemed to get much worse with each round as did my nausea. We knew we would need to simply continue as we had been, but I had to tell them anyways.
My mom decided to stay for the weekend because my sister was going to fly up for a visit the next week with her daughter who is just 12 days younger than Bubba. I hadn’t seen her since Christmas. Since they were living together at the time, they would drive back to Florida together. My sister and her daughter were able to visit for 3 days the next week. It was great to see the babies together, go to the park, fix food together…be “normal”.
But we all knew that this was far from any “normal” we had ever experienced before or even dreamed of experiencing.
Round 5 ended like the other ones although it took the neuropathy almost a full week to dissipate after having the pump removed. This was concerning, but what could we do?
The most devastating part about Round 5…I had to give up playing piano because of the neuropathy.
**Click here for my experience with Rounds 6 & 7 of chemo.**