Night at the Emerg - the aftermath

My mom had to remind me how exhausted I was the last time I had chemo. ‘You wrote about it.” Oh ya, I did.

The idea of rereading that blog post to remind myself how crappy it was seems counterproductive or masochistic. While misery does, to an extent, love company, I think it prefers the company of someone else, not the memory of its own past misery. I’ll take her word for it.

The feature of this particular exhaustion is a heavy pain in my legs. Only when I’m lying down. Feels like someone is pouring molten lead into them every few minutes. A post-marathon feeling perhaps? This is, after all, my own personal marathon. But why the legs? The chemo drugs are wasting their time down there.  Maybe I should do some head stands or lie on the floor with my legs up against the wall, so the lead flows back where it’s needed. (Another fertility/pregnancy image for some of us)

Tomorrow I’ll trudge through what may be a snowstorm, back up to Sunnybrook for my last hour of chemo for this round. It’s scheduled for 8:00 am. It’s also the first day back to school, so somehow I’ll get the kids up, the lunches made, the hats, mitts, books and backpacks located. We’ve enjoyed a lazy couple of weeks. The 10 yr old told me he has no idea why life can’t just be like this.

I was diligent in following up on the chemo left to go. I want to be a good cancer patient and not get in anyone’s bad books. In my fevered 4:00 am emerg fog I phoned the oncologist-on-call to explain that I was unlikely to be in at 8:15 for my hour of Benda. He agreed and suggested I leave a message for my oncologist Dr. B. I asked him to leave a note in my file. Worried that was about as helpful as posting a sticky note on the front door of the hospital, at 5:30 I left a detailed message that may have included something about the pee sample, or the long underwear. Just to be certain, when I got home I left another missive on the hematology nursing line. Bases covered, I crashed.

Hours later nurse J called to check in. No one seemed particularly concerned about my hot night. I asked if the problem was that I’d been fighting a cold. He said my blood had looked great. I had no fever. They would have gone ahead.

“What about the second bit of chemo?”

“There was a problem at the pharmacy where they mix the drugs. The venting froze. Most chemo was canceled this morning.”

So I wouId have gone up there for nothing. That was a relief. But it was troubling to think they’re filling my body with shit that requires venting to mix. I asked about follow-up, problems with the delay, timing. He praised my excellent questions and said he’d talk to Dr. B. 

A little while later a chemo nurse called.

“Is this Aviva Rubin? Do you know you were supposed to be in for chemo this morning?”

Are you fucking kidding? Do you guys talk to each other? Do you read the sticky notes?

“I was in emerg last night with a really high fever. And anyway, I thought chemo was canceled because of the venting problem.”

“Yours was already mixed. You would have gone ahead.” 

So I feel like I was run over by a hot steamroller. I was poked, prodded and questioned for hours by a sweet but complete amateur. I haven’t slept all night, and this one wants me to feel guilty that I missed my appointment and they have to dispose of my drug in some toxic waste site.

I got off the phone and fell back asleep. Nurse J woke me up to say it was a go for Monday. I thanked him and wished him a good weekend. I just wanted to know he felt a little bad about my shitty night.

It's ok. My friends and family all did. Everyone has their roles to play.

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