If you've never had chemotherapy, and I sincerely hope you never have and never will, come with me to my first treatment and see what goes on.
The first thing is to sign in at the appointment desk, where a lovely paper bracelet is placed on my wrist. Then I am ushered into the Chemo Room by Bre, who will be my chemo nurse today. She lets me choose my seat and I select a recliner in the far corner. This gives me a view of the long room, which is almost full.
I can see but not hear John Goodman talking to a talk show host on the TV set at the farthest end of the room. I take note of my fellow patients, mostly female, mostly middle-aged or older. My son James accompanies me today and points out that they all seem to have their own hair, which I found surprising. The thing I'm least looking forward to is losing mine.
Nurse Bre checks my veins in my forearm to make sure they can handle the IV. When she finds one that she likes, she wraps my arm in a warm towel to help prepare the vein for the injection, which doesn't hurt at all.
She then gives me a B-12 shot and an injection of an anti-nausea drug, and starts the IV session with a 30-minute drip of more anti-nausea meds. Bre puts my feet up and puts a pillow behind my back. Now that I'm all comfy, all that's left to do is wait.
I brought my trusty iPad, so I start taking notes about my experience while watching the comings and goings of a very busy day in the chemo clinic. (Note to self: try to have the IV in my left arm next time. I have to hold my right arm still and type much slower with my free left hand.)
One woman appears to be getting a blood transfusion, but it's just a different color of chemo drug. Some people have been there for hours while others seem to be in and out in a jiffy, depending on the treatment they're getting that day. Some have a friend along and chat quietly (during their fast-food lunch!). Others read or doze alone.
Thirty minutes have passed, so it's time for the first chemo drip, which will only take 10 minutes. I
tense up when the drug starts to enter my body, but it feels no different. I relax and return to my notes. The last chemo drip takes about an hour, during which time three gentlemen join me in my empty corner and start talking. I listen to their military histories with interest and the time flies by.
My treatment started at 1:30 and I'm on my way home at 4:00 - with no side effects except that I will sleep poorly that night and that my blood sugar will rise sharply the next morning and drop sharply the morning after that.