“It’ll be liberating,” he said.
“Ummm… what will be liberating?” I asked, stifling my urge to laugh out loud. Quite the melodramatic words, I thought.
“Well, some patients find out that their worst fears were baseless, that the treatments aren’t as bad as they anticipated. And that liberates them.”
I assume my medical oncologist meant liberates them from their fears.
This snippet was part of my pre-infusion interview and instructions today.
The session went well. First an infusion of a cocktail of preliminary medications; anti-nausea, anti-allergy, and such. Then 90 minutes of chemo. Then 90 minutes of Herceptin. In all it took closer to five hours than the three-to-four I’d been told, but it was bearable.
I believe gratitude plays a key role in both healing and living life with joy.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.Melody Beattie
This, then, is my short gratitude list for today (there are always more; there are other days to come):
- My lovely “drivers”—Heather and my honey—who gifted me their time to drive me into and home from the hospital in downtown Makati. Made a bit extra special with tolerable traffic both ways—not something we can take for granted here in the metropolis.
- My kind and competent nurse Kaitlen, who adeptly set up the catheter into a vein on my hand. Her skill played a large part in my not having any adverse effect at the point of entry. She checked in on me regularly, helped me get to the toilet about halfway through with the IV stand and all, and arranged for room service to pay the bill so I didn’t have to add more time in the hospital after the infusion session. Small things matter so much.
- Hallelujah—no allergic reactions to any of the meds!
- This may seem trite, but free wifi in the hospital. Access to internet, to information, to people.
- My mighty companions and prayer warriors. In the hospital clinic, more than once I was asked, “where’s your companion, ma’am?” It’s part of Pinoy culture to bring someone along for medical procedures. As a westerner, I don’t feel the need for that. BUT, I decided to post a selfie on my Facebook profile (not something I do often) … and within the hour, dozens of caring friends offered prayers and well wishes… and that number quickly grew into over 100 responses and notes from family and friends around the globe over the following hours. I felt comforted and loved. And yes, that too helps in healing; it brings me joy.
Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.Karl Barth
So overall, this first infusion session whizzed by. I’ll admit I experienced less physical discomfort than I anticipated… a strange coldness on the hand the catheter was inserted, some sensitivity.
Prior to this session I had taken a friend’s advice not to go down the rabbit hole of exploring online what other breast cancer patients had experienced. I could have done so on this online community I did sign up for—but I refrained. So I didn’t really know what to expect and I hadn’t ruminated on it, either. Maybe I only thought I’d feel the drug entering and traveling around my body (I didn’t) and perhaps some nausea (I didn’t).
While the butterflies in my belly for the day or two before this day informed me that I had a touch of nerves, my head recognized little fear or anxiety, as such. Perhaps it’s a matter of degree.
And perhaps the nerves were caused more by the real frustration I was feeling about other process failures going on, like with the preparations for the session and medical insurance. (I spare you the details.)
In the end, the question returns to was this session liberating?
How it worked out was indeed a pleasant surprise and it gave me a bit more confidence about what lies ahead. Yay for that!
But liberation is truly a different—more profound—thing altogether. (Maybe a topic to be explored later?)
Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences or to ask questions.