Chemo #1

I am sitting on the couch waiting for my Neulasta injection to complete. The nurses attached a little white box to the skin of my belly yesterday you’ll feel a snap like a rubber band and it dutifully pulsed with a green light until around 8:45 tonight when I heard a sort of ticktickticktick sound and it started releasing its medicine. I will know when it’s finished because that ticking sound will be replaced by a long beep, the blinking green will glow solid, and the little medicine gauge window will read empty. Many signs that things are over. There are also any number of reactions to this drug I am taking for the first time right now, from feeling a little drowsy to severe pain in bones and joints to maybe I won’t be able to breathe at all. We won’t know until we get there.

That’s chemotherapy for me so far: anticipation.

I told my surgical oncologist that I was having trouble sleeping. She looked sort of confused about why I was talking about this, did this thing I saw David Rakoff do at a party once: cue the dog. Paws up, head tilted, quizzical eyeballs, hurrruunnnhh? I saw my medical oncologist three hours later. Told her I was having trouble sleeping. Of course you are, and you’re probably anxious too. I’m in a new world now, away from the surgeon and her measure-twice-cut-once approach to my body. Now I am eligible for massages while I take the drugs that offset the side effects of the drugs I take to offset the side effects of the drugs I take.

Right now, things aren’t so bad. People tell me to wait until tomorrow, the next day, the next day, whatever next day is coming when things will be worse. But tonight I ate dinner (Karen made steak and asparagus, iron rich foods to offset low hemoglobin counts) and I taught my online class (what role do institutional and conceptual norms play in policy analysis and advocacy?) and I chatted with Renata in the hallway. Not only not so bad, but pretty good. Doing my best to stay here.

The Neulasta just let out a long beep and the light in the upper left corner is unmistakably solid green. I am going to celebrate with a glass of water, maybe some prophylactic pain reliever.

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