The feeling of being slowly overcome with water, struggling to keep your head just above enough to catch some air; the feeling of the possibility you might actually drown. This is the feeling I wake up to most days of the week since Ethan’s first chemotherapy treatment.
I know that’s a bold statement to make, and a statement that might actually make some psychologists cringe. I should know since I am getting my masters in psychology.
The reason that statement is scary is because its true for so many people who are dealing with a loved one who has cancer. Lets face it, those days of waking up and feeling content are no more. No matter how hard you try, wish, scream and yell for those days, for the time being those days are on hold.
Chemotherapy is a lot like going to war with your ally and enemy at the same time. It’s an elixir that simultaneously cures you and kills you. I knew what to expect going into chemo the first day with Ethan. After all I had been down this road for 12 years with my mother.
But as usual cancer always likes to throw curve balls and the minute I walked into the chemotherapy room with Ethan I realized that no matter how many times I had been to chemo it will NEVER be something you get used to. Its similar to giving blood, no matter how many times you do it most all of us still get a little worked up, sweaty or nervous, each time the nurse pulls out that needle.
I think due to the fact of how many times cancer and I tangled while my mother was sick, I now have that instant bodily reaction to chemo. I walked in Ethan’s room and the smell of alcohol stung my nose, the lights in the room flickered to where my ears started to burn, and the tinge of blue tile made my eyes water. Ah this was the place, just like I remembered it.
Although I have never had to go through chemo myself there is a very unique feeling a caretaker has when seeing the person they love experience it.
The needle gets stuck in the port, and the drugs begin to flow in. These drugs have the oddest colors, colors that look toxic, its quite ironic. A cocktail of red drugs, yellow drugs, clear drugs all flow through Ethan’s port as I watch on, sad on the inside that he has to endure this but on the outside I am desperately trying to change the subject and be funny.
I am in full court jester mode. I think maybe this was the reason I was given the gift to make people laugh? Time marches on and after 6 hours, we are free to return to our lives. Walking out of chemo is like being freed from prison and getting your first breathe of fresh air.
If there is one thing I must do it’s that I have to take something good out of this experience. Maybe that will be learning to appreciate life more, appreciate little things, and the wonderful people I am blessed with. Dealing with family and friends in a time of crisis can be a delicate balance. I will explore this balance in my next post.