Round Three

August first and the house was clean, the laundry done, garbage out, clean linens throughout the house, and I was angling mirrors in the bathroom, trying to get a clean 360 degree view of my head. I didn’t want to leave any blank spots, you know…

This is harder than it might seem – though not as hard as it would have been if these were actual henna designs, rather than transfer ‘tattoos’ – but eventually it was done, or done enough, and I was ready for my date at the Chemo Lounge.

You can see I still have some stubble under the designs – but it’s pretty sparse and patchy. Far easier in my view to simply keep it shaved once it gets to that point – any hair I had left at this point would just look mangy and diseased. Tattoos are far more entertaining and attractive.

Because, you know, if I don’t look good, I don’t feel good – and, darlings, I looked mah-vah-lous, if I do say so myself. And I do.

Hint: being a memorable patient (in a *good* way, natch) will often get you better care- because you become a person, rather than a case. It’s slight and subtle, but it does happen. At least that’s my theory.

Beth, my sister (all the way from Minnesota!), provided transport and chemo support this round, and she picked me up promptly and we went off on the usual round. Waiting room, vitals check and blood draw, doctor’s visit, waiting room, and comfy chair. No problems with the blood draw or the IV, no bent needles or ‘rolling veins’ this time; everything as it should be with my vitals (btw, I *am* gaining weight on the chemo diet, just as I predicted – good work, minions!); my oncologist apologized for the bad experience I’d had last time with the research study – wasn’t her fault in the least, but I much appreciated the gesture and that she utterly ‘got’ it, why exactly it had been so bad. She also got the scheduling started for radiation – I’ll be going in for my first meeting on the 9th.

We had company this time, which was lovely –  my friend Thato (all the way from Botswana!) showed up in the very early stages, while we were still in the waiting room, and then William (all the the way from Texas!) came by while I was already in the comfy chair  – after he had taken a slight detour  up to St. Albans due to a bit of confusion about exactly *which* hospital I was at.

It made it all go that much faster and more pleasantly, just hanging out and talking and telling stories, and watching the drugs go in, one after another, while Beth tried her best to tempt me with various savories (the *cutest* little quiches evah!) and kept pushing fluids my way.

(Speaking of fluids – because of the toxicity of the chemo, I over hydrate as much as possible before, during, and after; keeping track of the quantity by saving out all the empties from the day, trying for at least 3 to 4 liters each day. Five bloody liters that day, plus the liter or so of saline in the bag, plus coffee – and one of the always questions before chemo is: Any increase in urinary frequency?

Well, really, what do *you* think?)

Eventually it was all over, I was untethered from the IV and the bandaid affixed, the party broke up, and I and my entourage headed out – Beth drove me back home, and William and Thato took off on their own merry ways.  By then I was all jacked up on steroids – they usually start kicking in about halfway through the process – wired and buzzing. Beth put a tattoo on the back of my skull, filling in the last big blank spot nicely; packed all the goodies into the fridge; listened to my babble for a bit and then took off.

William waited until evening fell and the temperature dropped, then came by on his last night in town – we wandered down Church Street (managed to snag Dug Nap sitting on a Church Street bench and got him to take our photo together on that last night – William’s camera, so I’ve not got the photos yet) and into Sweet Tomatoes, ate some food, and wandered back home, me to my bed and he to his hotel and thence to the road in the morning.

Me, I had my steroid morning ahead, the Neulasta shot to look forward to, and the inevitable Chemo Crash in there somewhere… I had smartened up enough after last time to know that getting a ride was a Good Idea. Which it was, even if it didn’t hit me as hard as last time.

Becky volunteered; delivered me up on time; got to see the joy and wonder of the chemo lounge; delivered me back home; and left me to it. One last visit from Reb that evening as I was slipping under, but not gone yet, and then into the night, into the Crash…

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