Chemo with kids

This past Monday, New Year's Eve, I had treatment. It was the first time that the kids had gone to treatment with me.
Back when I was getting my therapy at the hospitals cancer center there were a lot of very ill people in the treatment room, and I never felt comfortable exposing my kids to that. When I started going to a cancer center more removed from the hospital and my oldest son continued to ask to go, I decided that we would try it. I know that a lot of times we make up things in our heads that are a lot more scary than what is really happening, but we don't know that because we have never been exposed to it. So, I thought this was a good way for my son to see what chemotherapy was all about and hopefully, if he had created scary visions of what it might be like, these visions would now be dispelled.
My new cancer center has fewer patients, and the patients seem to be more independent, overall. So, with chemo falling on a non school day, I agreed to bring him along. This is when my youngest son decided that he wanted to go too! We packed up the game boys, Nintendo DS's, all the games, and two MP3 players and the boys and I headed off to chemo!
They watched as I was taken to a little staging area, was weighed, and my blood pressure and temperature were taken.
Then, they followed as we were lead back to the big, sun-filled room full of recliners and IV poles where I would be getting my treatment. I picked out a recliner and they each tried to pull up the spinney stools that the doctors sit on. I always have, and still maintain, that you have to go to a lot of school to get the privilege of sitting on one of those spinney stools, so they needed to get up, pick a recliner, and consider med school if they thought those stools looked fun! They piled into the recliner next to me. My youngest watched intently as they placed the needle in my port, drew blood, filled the tubes, and then flushed my port with saline. They then taped the connecting tubes to my sweatshirt while they waited for my blood counts and the results of my kidney and liver functions tests, to see if it was safe to give me my chemotherapy. My youngest son then decided to play his game boy, which my oldest son had yet to look up from. He said in the car on the way, "I don't want to see them put a needle in you." And, he didn't.
The physician's assistant surfaced a few minutes later to go over my blood work, discuss any new symptoms, and check out the newest in personal gaming devices. I turned out that my blood counts were a little off, but nothing too frightening so chemo was a-go as expected.
My chemo nurse came back with a bag of saline and two bags of chemotherapy which she promptly hung on my IV pole with a bunch of tubing.
This is where the boys started to glance up from their games, but only momentarily, to check on me. Since nothing too earth shattering appeared to be happening they continued to play their games while snuggled up together in a recliner next to an empty IV pole. Thank God their IV pole was empty, I thought to myself. Thank God this was happening to me and not to them.
The nurse turned on my pump, and walked away.
My youngest was the first to venture over. He was looking at the tubing as it is disappeared under my sweatshirt, so I asked him, "Do you want to see how I get my medicine?" He just nodded, so I showed him how the chemo drips from the bag, into the pump, through a few feet of tubing and into my port. He touched it once, and was content. I gave him a kiss and a squeeze and he was back to gaming with his brother. A few minutes later his brother took off his MP3 player and was just silently watching me. I could see him out of the corner of my eye, so I turned, and asked, as I had with his brother, "Do you wanna see?" "Sure", he responded. So we went through the same breakdown, and all he said was, "Ouch." I assure him that I was in no pain, and he was happy with this. He snuggled on my lap for a couple of minutes and then was off to torment his brother!
After about the first 45 minutes the boys were now feeling quite at home there in the chemotherapy room, and had become quite keen on the fact that I appeared to be attached to my recliner. They were able to navigate just out of reach of the few feet of tubing that I had when they wanted to pick at each other without getting grabbed and hushed by me. The boys are quite sharp! It wasn't until they decided to lay down on the floor and wrestle that they found out that the IV pump could be unplugged and the pole that I was attached to could then move to anywhere I pleased! As soon as I started towards them, they were on my lap apologizing. I guess they new that I was not going to be happy if I had to chase them down with my drugs trailing behind! They were correct in their assumption! I told them, "The more I have to unplug this the longer we are going to be here!" This was not true, it keeps pumping even when you are unplugged, but it was an effective 'fib', as they seemed to be as ready to get out of there as I was. It is hard for me to sit still and be quite for three hours, just imagine how hard it is for 5 and 8 year old brothers!
Finally, the pump started beeping, a familiar sound, which seems to sing out, "Let's get outta here!" The nurse came over right on cue, pulled out my needle slapped on a bandaid and sent us on out way!
Amen. All three of us...relatively unscathed.
What am I thankful for?! I am so very thankful that my children are healthy! I hope that everyone has a Happy and Healthy NEW YEAR! Happy 2008!


Anonymous said...

I loved reading this entry Tracy!! I know I've said it before-but you should publish this blog!!! There are just so few real stories out there to help others-you have such a great way of putting your words to paper..think about it:]Suzi

Anonymous said...

You are brave! Had I taken my children to such a place- I am certain you would be reading about it in the newspaper rather than a blog. Headline "Cancer center ransacked!"

We are also wishing you and your family health and hapiness in this new year.

Much love,

Nicole (& Steve)

Anonymous said...

We saw your LIVESTRONG video today...absolutely awesome! You're just so amazing and strong.
We wish you and your family a wonderful 2008!
Brian & Lyndsy Schulz