I went to physical therapy today just to see what I could do to get this last bit of motion back in my arm and to get any pointers they had for keeping loose during radiation. I also wanted her to see this Madonna tendon I now have - you know those gross tendons that stick out on Madonna's unnaturally ropey underarms? Well, I have that under my arm now and it is about freaking me out. Anyway, the physical therapist made a comment that took me aback but was actually something I've been thinking about lately. We were talking about something, I think future exercise, and she said well yes, you're young, you're healthy. And I almost burst out laughing because you usually don't refer to cancer patients as healthy I'm guessing. But last week when my husband and entourage (kids, strollers, dogs) were walking home from our afternoon walk, and I was doing my fast walk, I said "Hmmm, if you didn't know me, you wouldn't think I have had two major surgeries, am in the middle of chemo and have cancer, huh??" Because honestly, I feel like the healthiest sick person I know. I walk most days of the week, the only tired time I have is chemo night from the benedryl (well, other than being tired from two kids, but that is what it is), I've not had nausea, vomiting, pain, anything really other than lost hair, some thinning of my nails, and, well, actually that's about it. My blood pressure, when I'm not on this chemo, is pretty low. My weight could use a lot of work, but I'm not even starting to attempt anything until I'm off of these steroids. I eat relatively healthy and am getting better and better. I rarely rarely drink and since I've been pregnant and on chemo in the past year, I haven't even had one drink in at least that long. I don't smoke unless I'm in Europe, which has not been since 2008 (that needs to be remedied). Other than this cancer thing, I am actually pretty healthy. It's just a juxtaposition I still can't quite wrap my head around.
The Infusion Center
When I go to chemo, it's not like in the movies. We don't all sit together, yukking it up and sharing pot brownies. (Ummm, yeah, the movie 50/50 - good movie but no, you don't sit in a school circle and seriously, where are my pot brownies people? I have never seen anyone leave a batch by the coffee machine and I must say, I'm a little perturbed by that. I brought in cupcakes two weeks ago but there was nary a bud in the batch.) You each have your little partitioned "room", people sort of look at each other as they pass by but that's about it. I do know all of the nurses by now and joke around with some of them, last week I was almost crying because this older gentleman was singing. I asked my nurse, Is someone singing? She goes, I'm so sorry, he has to sing or talk, he says it helps him infuse better. We were laughing so hard we were crying - I don't know, things are weirdly funny in chemo.
I guess that's why what I saw last week troubled me so much. When I go to chemo, granted, it's still mostly older people. Everyone is obviously there to get some sort of infusion - chemo, blood, platelets, whatever - so everyone has something pretty seriously "wrong" with them. But honestly, I've not really seen any very "sick" people. Older, slower people yes. But very sick people, no. But last week a gentleman walked in with his wife, girlfriend, not sure - a female companion. I'm guessing they were maybe a few years older then me but this is Orange County, so honestly the woman could have been anywhere from mid-30s to mid-50s. And I could tell that he was very sick, and it almost broke me. Looking at me, or most people, you can tell we have cancer by the hair, but that's about it, you can't really tell what kind with most people. This gentleman looked distinctly like he has some sort of brain cancer - it hits your eyes and face in a way others don't - and I could hear him talk - very muffled, slow, and difficult to understand. And it made me so sad, because I could see that the lady with him loved him, and that this was not a good road he is on, and honestly, it brought death into a room that spends its days fighting it. And I caught my nurse's eye as she went in to prep him for his infusion, and I could see it in her eyes too. And I pray for him. And I hug my kids close and I thank God for allowing me to put up a successful fight so far.