Monday, April 04, 2016

Chemo All Pau!

And for those who are unfamiliar with Hawaiian pidgin, pau = FINISHED!

I had my eighth of eight sessions today. NYU Langone's infusion center has a fun little ritual for your last session, they got all excited when I told them it was my last session and said "You get to ring the bell when you're done!"

I came out after Grace, my technician, unhooked me from the rig for the last time. They have you read the placard; they didn't say out loud, but I did, finding myself getting surprisingly verklempt as I did (everybody knows "verklempt" from SNL, right?), then I rang the bell, hugged Grace a couple of times, thanked all of the staff who was at the front desk (it was a quiet day and I was one of the last ones out so that was most of the Monday afternoon team), and went on my way. The thank-yous were very sincere - I think I've mentioned in my other cancer postings that I've been consistently impressed with the courtesy and care the NYU Langone folks have shown me and others during my visits there. Even the most impatient patients were treated with far more patience that I could ever muster.

Grace was extra-terrific, though - that's her in the 2nd photo. Earlier on in the process I was going to switch to weekends to save myself the once-every-three-week scrambles to get out of the office on time, but she was SO nice and also very, very good at finding a vein on the first stick, and with that combination, I ended up rethinking things. I hate needles, and
 I've got ridiculously elusive veins, and I've come out of more than one routine blood-testing situation very green around the gills after the blood drawer either stuck me again and again or just hovered for an appallingly long time before getting down to business, so the latter made this SO much easier, I'd really been dreading that but she made it so much better than I expected it to be. Add to that that she had such a very pleasant chairside manner (they had beds there but I was always in one of the comfy recliners) and I pretty quickly decided that I didn't want to change after all.

My bosses totally understood, and since my side effects were generally limited to a slightly cantankerous tummy, nothing truly debilitating, when chemo ran afoul of deadlines and stuff simply had to get done, I was able to put in extra hours on other nights to make sure it did.

Delighted to be done, and delighted that the whole process continued to be, as I said early on, more of a hassle than an ordeal. The time it took to recover completely did end up going from a couple of days to an entire week, but I never really lost any time other than the actual appointments, and the symptoms I was recovering from were pretty low-key compared to what some people go through. I did very well on the regimen I chose (the longer but gentler of the 2 options I was given), to the point that today my oncologist couldn't resist punning that I'd "sailed through it" (she knows my proclivities and always asks what boating I've done recently at my pre-chemo checkups), and I'm so grateful for that.

Thanks again to all of my friends (especially those who're going through or have gone through it themselves and have shared their stories with me) for all the support and good wishes!

One more significant procedure to go, reconstructive surgery later this month, but that's actually an outpatient procedure, nowhere near as big a deal as the first operation. A couple of days off and I'll be ready to go back to work. Also no paddling or swimming until late May, but I should be easing back onto (and into) the water just as the boating and swimming season gets into full swing. Looking forward to that!

:D />


JP said...

Congratulations - GREAT news!!!

bonnie said...

Thanks! I'm very happy to be done with that, and very very happy that for the most part I was able to carry on with normal life.

LauraEhlers said...

Hooray!!! Congratulations on making it through.

Julie McCoy said...

Great! And btw I love the paddler emoticon. Did you come up with that yourself?

bonnie said...

Laura, I knew you'd like this one!

Julie, thanks! Yes, I made that up early on, I usually add,

"frogma kayak smiley, patent pending".

Wow, patent's been pending for a long time. Think I should check in with the patent office? :D

pia said...

You're my hero. I never knew anyone to take chemo the way you have

Congrats a bazillion times!

L'Chaim (as long as we're going Yiddish) It literally means "to life," and is the traditional toast with wine!

bonnie said...

Thanks! I'm so happy, I could plotz! Between catching it early, going into this in reasonably good shape, being able to keep up the outdoors activities that keep me happy and fit all the way through, and then having such a good team of caretakers (every one a mensch!), I feel like I have had the easiest cancer experience ever.

Of course I just knocked on the wooden pencil I keep in my pencil cup for just that purpose - there's still some to come, but so far so good! L'Chaim!

Nasreen Iqbal said...

Congrats on getting through! I had to get regular 5-hour infusions of something for a condition I had a few years back, and the Cell and Gene Therapy Dept that I went to for them had a lot of people getting chemo. Just a circle of small rooms of people getting long infusions of different things.

It was an experience I won't forget, in part because seeing the condition of some of the other regular patients was far worse than my own. It's something like having been in the military or something, I imagine, where only people who have gone through it can understand someone else who has been throught it.

Hope you're back on the water as soon as possible!

Karen @BakingInATornado said...

Congratulations on being done. Sounds like having the option of a kinder, gentler way was a blessing for you. Either way, it has to be such a relief to close the door on that part of the process. Hope the surgery recovery goes well and you're back doing the things you love soon.

Frankie Perussault said...

I'd say your physical condition as a sportswoman and paddler must have had some good incidence too. Long live sailors of all kind! congratulations to you for your cheerful temperament.

bonnie said...

Thanks again EVERYONE. I do think that having been basically fit going into this, and then being very interested in getting back out on the water or otherwise outside, was probably helpful. Being given the choice of the longer but gentler version was great, I'm not sure how I would've dealt with the harsher version. And Nasreen - my goodness, I know exactly what you mean, I generally felt like a big old clompetty draft horse going into those waiting rooms and infusion rooms with so many people who were going through so much more difficult things than I was and just looking so worn-down. So many of them still managed to keep a cheerful mien despite what they'd been through - those are the real fighters. My course was so easy next to theirs!