My eyes were drawn to the dorsal side of my left hand as I typed. In case you didn’t know, the dorsal side is the opposite side of the palm side (or more correctly, the palmar side.) I Googled it when I wanted to use a more intelligent word for the top of my hand and now, like me, perhaps you’ve learned something new. Dorsal is not just for shark fins.
I was a little obsessed by the top of my left hand. From an inch below where the little diamonds of my wedding band sparkled, heading toward my wrist, there was a major blotch of purple. It was a minor bruise in the scheme of things- I’ve had much larger and deeper bruises on my ass, for sure. When I pressed on it, it didn’t even feel sore, but the discoloring weirded me out; it looked more like my mother’s hand, than my own, and made me feel old. As if I could have somehow forgotten about the chemo treatment, the IV bruise was there as a reminder.
My chemo treatment was fine. I was fine, I did fine. My kids have told me that “fine” is a pretty lame adjective, so I wish I had something better, but I don’t. I didn’t pass out getting the IV (and thanks to a little Adavan, I had a nice little nap in the waiting area.) I didn’t freak out when four different doctors and nurses described the possible side effects of chemo and gave me booklets describing what to do in case of this or that reaction when I got home. To coin a phrase, it all went in one ear, and out the other, without stopping at my numb brain to register.
I didn’t freak out when they gave me a bag of fluids, though I did wonder how many times I would need to get up to pee. I didn’t freak out when they gave me a bag of anti-nausea. I didn’t freak out when I felt the liquids go up my arm through my veins (almost, but almost doesn’t count.) I pushed my heated chair back to recline, and relaxed under a couple of heated blankets. I read a few pages in my book.
Four syringes arrived from the lab, special ordered for me based on my exact weight in kilograms (the only thing better than that would have been a conversion to stones.) The syringes were filled with a bright pink liquid. The nurse explained that she would sit next to me and push the “medicine” in. It would take 20 minutes. She would sit by my side. She made especially sure that the IV would not get backed up. “If the IV gets backed up, you’ll hit the ceiling,” she said, “It’s powerful stuff.” Yeah, no kidding. She wore a mask, a hat, gloves, an extra covering over her nurse’s garb.
That’s when it hit me.
“What the f#*k am I doing?” I asked Mike. “Why am I letting them put this poison through my veins that can’t even touch anyone’s skin? Look at the extra precautions the nurse is taking! Am I making the right decision? Best case, this chemo will improve my rate of recurrence by only 5%. This seems stupid.”
“You made the right decision,” he replied calmly, as if there was no question in his mind.
But really, he doesn’t know. No one knows. I am a person who believes more in science, than in faith, but with the uncertainty of science in this case, I am at a loss. I am undergoing the chemo solely for peace of mind, not for peace of body. All I know is, it was the only decision I could make.
I felt the poison go up my arm.
Weeks later, even with my full energy back, even with my focus on my new bald head (it’s kind of adorable, in a Dr. Evil kind of way), I still get the weebie jeebies every time I think of the pink poison being pushed into my veins.
It’s supposed to get easier every time. But I don’t think so. I know what’s coming, and while those pink syringes are kind of pretty, they are not fun.