We showed up at 2:30 to a roomful of people waiting. Turns out that they had 120 people in for treatments as opposed to the usual number which is a lot lower. Interestingly, they provide you with pagers if you want to go for a walk or something.

We were called in around 4, and prepped for the plug in. Sherron, the nurse, was flitting back and forth between the myriad of patients. All the beds and chairs were full. She finally settled on looking after me. She was quite delightful, if overworked.

She opens a large enveloppe and places it on the table next to me. In it are a set of latex gloves. She then opens a bunnch of other stuff, needles, and whatevers and empties the contents onto the open enveloppe. She washes her hands and puts on the latex gloves, at which point, she can not touch anything. She is now working in a steryle environment. A needle is pushed into the Porta-Cath and the intravenous bags are connected to it.It was all very quick.

Turns out that the bags contained saline solution to flush the system. Soon after though, the first of the drugs was connected to the system. The combination is Irinotecan and Leucovorin. The latter is used to “increase the activity of the anticancer drug F5-Fluorouracil”. Now you know, so stop complaining.

Irinotecan, pronouced IRRITANT, is more complicated. OK, so it is not pronounced irritant though you gotta admit it sounds better than the real pronunciation.

What taking these drugs pointed out is that we now have to be vigilant about everything. Nothing is normal. I started breaking out in a sweat. I said to Janet, is it me, or is hot in here? The nurse comes by and I ask her the same question. Are you sweating, she asks? Yeah, kinda. That is one of the side effects of the Irritant. As are stomach cramps. Is that I am also dizzy? OK, time for an injection to stop the coming nausea and all this stuff that is happening.

From now on, everything matters. We have to watch out for, and in no special order, diarrhea, mouth sores, stomach cramps, excessive urinating, high temperatures, wheezing, difficulty breathing, skin rashes. I am not sure I have left anything out, or that I can add anything to the list either. How about hiccups?

We have to keep baking soda near every sink. I have to take a rinse before and after every meal. After brushing my teeth with a soft toothbrush.

They sent us home after connecting me to the F5 bottle wihich lookks dangerously like a baby bottle. So I am wired yet again like a borg. It is going to make sleeping interesting. Trying Gravol tonight to make me drowsy. I cannot exactly roll around or anything. Only two nights. Only two nights. The community nurse is coming on Saturday to unplug me and remove all the wires. No showers till then.

No sharp objects either. A cut is not a good thing.

As expected, the anxiousness of the past few days is history, now that we are in the centre of it all. Time to move forward and start meditation classes and whatever else I can do to make this easier.

Just for the record, I have been offered pot from just about everybody. At this rate, I could open my own business. One friend said I should under no circumstance do Canadian pot since it will probably kill me. So far, no inclination to go in that direction, though I do thank everyone for their generosity.

2 Responses to “Chemo, a virgin’s view”

  1. oh Farokh, I have been reading for hours I think… you are astoundingly vivid, and so I feel like we’ve just had a long, full visit. I am very grateful.
    you are an incredible writer. proof of what I often say… anyone who likes to talk, can write! I miss you, and am holding you in my prayers. may this chemo experience be bearable. will be looking forward to reading more, and to seeing you before long. much love to you.

  2. Farokh, I laughed when you spoke of Pot. Perhaps I should not but I can imagine you telling me in person.

    Love Aziz

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