Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Last Chemo - for six weeks or so

I had my second "last chemo" today. It was a bittersweet experience as I have again been chatting with people and enjoying their company, and by the time I return, many of them will be done with treatment and the group will be new again.

It's funny - even when what you are doing isn't particularly fun, when you've been doing it regularly for almost two years it becomes an integral part of your life; one that you feel you'll miss when it's gone.

Of course, I probably wouldn't say that about routine waterboarding or being forced to go to classic car shows every weekend, so it's all relative.

Who knew chemo was more fun than looking at old cars?

As I settled into my barcalounger, I loudly announced my upcoming surgery to anybody who would listen, and even those who had headphones on.

Hey, not everybody gets this surgery, you know? People should hear about it.

There was lots of interest and people said they'd pray for me.

As an aside, I am no longer the youngest woman in the chemo room. One young lady is being treated for stage III breast cancer. She is 26 years old. I wish that I was still the youngest person in that room, I must say. It's not because she's cuter than me and I'm jealous of all the cancerous old men eyeing her. It's awful that anybody gets cancer, but in truth, it's more awful that she got it than me.

As the last drip slid into my vein, I said a temporary good-bye to my fantastic nurses and my chemo acquaintances, and I walked out the door, free of that shabby yet familiar infusion room until at least a month after surgery.

Speaking of - I have a lot to do before surgery, including paperwork. My advanced directive is done but I need one more signature to make it legal. My FMLA paperwork has to be signed and I need to get the doctor to do his part. I'm going to splurge and hire a housekeeper, even though my house shouldn't be shown to strangers. Two years of cancer has rendered it pretty dirty, and I wasn't exactly Alice to begin with. It's time somebody does it, and it clearly won't be me.

I also need to rent a recliner to sleep in for my post-surgical recovery. Getting up and down out of bed is always the hardest after surgery so I'm going to get a chair with a lift. I'm no dummy anymore.

I don't know if I can wear my own clothes in the hospital or not but maybe I should buy some loose, low rise sweat pants. I have a history of flashing hospital personnel and it's not because I'm pervy. It's totally their fault - the hospital johnnys they always make you wear are way too big for me. Even the small size wraps around me twice, and for some reason they never have smalls. So, I get the large johnny that I have to wrap around myself three times and the armholes are right where your breasts are and the pants don't tie tight enough to stay on so they slide down when you sleep, get out of bed, etc.

On the other hand, this is a teaching hospital. I'll be visited by my high-powered Super Doctor, fellows, residents, interns, med students, nurses, nurses-in-training and others who will need easy access to my long incision, so maybe clothes you can swim in is good, even if you end up showing your girly parts, both missing and intact, to all who come in.

Hey, if that guy on Dancing with the Stars doesn't mind showing his burned face to the world on national TV, I shouldn't mind showing my misshapen reconstruction and short and curlies to a few medical professionals. I will draw the line if an accountant shows up.

I also need to make arrangements for my family to stay...somewhere. Ouch. A week in a San Francisco hotel and it's not a vacation.

That might hurt more than the surgery.

I also found out I can request a private room, and they are given out when available. I'm doing that tomorrow so I can prevent the assault of daytime TV that I know any roommate I have will perpetrate upon me.

I'll beg, cry and bribe to get a private room.

Do you think playing the cancer card will do any good?



  1. Yes, play the cancer card to get that solo room. Girl, you deserve it.

    I know what you mean about becoming close with others having treatment with you. It was not so true for me with chemo, but I really loved the consistency of radiation and hanging on to buddies in the waiting room, until they, of course, graduated and newbies took their place.

    I'm glad that at least you get a break from chemo. I'm wishing a successful surgery!

    Yeah, and about those gowns, I think they are perve-inspired.

  2. Swipe that cancer card baby and get that single room. I go to a hospital that only has single rooms - thank god! Now on the surgery thing, since I have the vast experience of 8 surgeries including several significant hospital stays - bring a light weight bathrobe and slippers so that you can cover your self. Even a light shawl to put around your shoulders in bed - around your IV. Get someone signed up to visit every day but also make sure you don't get too many visitors. I set up a screening process and visitor list - and tell people ahead of time that I don't want them to visit and they can wait until I am home (and able to take a shower and wash my hair and put on clothes before a parade of guests come through. Bring a pair of headphones for the TV for you and another pair for your roommate - most hospitals are equipped for these.

    Also, skip the recliner chair and see if you can rent a hospital bed. Talk to the local Lions Club, Elks, etc. Many of them offer medical supplies like that for free.

    I had my gall bladder out and a hysterectomy. Both times I was severely limited on how many times I a day I could go up and down the stairs - one trip up and one trip down each day for a week. Ask ahead about what post surgical limitations you will have so you can have your house rearranged if needed.

    Check out Cleaning for a Reason for free house cleaning while in cancer treatment.

    As I babble a long, congratulations on having resectable tumors and best wishes for a healthy recovery.

  3. Ann,

    I'd share a hospital room with you. It would be mostly silent because I HATE television most of the time. Give me a good book or my computer over television!

    Good luck with getting everything you need to get done done in time. I think you're making a wise decision to hire professional house cleaner(s) to get the place clean for you. Don't waste your precious energy on cleaning house -- use it to enjoy time with you husband and family.

    I'll be thinking of you on October 3rd and look forward to a post that says, "Ann made it through surgery with flying colors!" [Prepare it ahead of time so hubby can post it if you don't have access.]


  4. Ann, have you looked into for a place in SF? I think you can find an apartment for a week for around $50/night in Oakland, and under $100 in SF.

  5. I'd play the cancer card for a hotel room for the fam, too.

  6. For sure play the cancer card. You must play the cards you are deal right? I am sort of excited that you are having this unique rarely done surgery. Because of this you are a pioneer. I was already pretty impressed by your sarcasm and wit. I didn't know that there was another person out there like me till I read your blog. But now I am even more impressed by your bravery and your trail blazing attitude. You rock. I hope that you keep us posted as much as possible while recovering.

  7. I agree, do whatever you have to in order to button down a private room. Like Leslie says, you're a pioneer, the least they can do for you is make you as comfortable and calm as possible for your recovery. Mary/LastCallforMargaritas

  8. Since I rambled on long enough earlier I forgot to suggest you try calling the American Cancer Society for local housing for your family. If no luck try the hospital social worker. Good luck!

  9. Good Luck with it all Ann... That sense of humor will see you through it all no doubt! X;-)

  10. I second Caroline's endorsement of Cleaning for a Reason. It's a great program and I have benefited from it as well.

    I'm looking forward to posts from your hospital bed that say all is well in the land of your liver.

  11. My comment did not take, so I'll try again. Ann, you have moxie. Now, I am not sure what moxie is, but you've got it, and I'm pretty sure that it trumps the cancer card!

    You go! Because stopping doesn't seem like that smart of an idea. ~debby

    PS My PET scan was clear.


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