“You must remember that chemo is systemic.” The nurse explains the pain in my jaw, ear, side face isn’t from radiation. Radiation and all its gifts won’t kick in for a couple more weeks. So the tired, the barf-o-rama and the missing Middle Chicken’s law school graduation rests in the hands of the mighty bitch Chemo.]
Was I not forewarned her punishment could be swift and powerful? Lucky me, I get swiped with her paw day one. Resting in a super comfy recliner, free flowing with Sisterella and the rest of my newfound pals, pain washes over one side of my face. Excruciating—ear, jaw, teeth, neck. Whaaa? Excuse me? Houston, I think we have a problem.
PA’s and nurses swarm. This is a new. Nope, never heard of this. There is morphine so we decide not to worry much. Until that subsides. More morphine. Sisterella and I conjure all manner of what the trouble could be. Since we’re cancer scientists, don’t ’cha know?
I conclude it’s the fault of radiation, which came first. The initial day is the double blast special. Kind of like double coupon day at Frye’s. Seems like an accomplishment but you’re not sure why.
My Jason hockey mask is tailored to the head and chest. It’s more imposing when it locks the noggin onto the table-BAM, BAM, BAM. First, I guess so you don’t choke or swallow your tongue or forget to breath, you get a little bite block thing—kind of like a small foam fudgsicle. The soft part goes in the mouth to bite down on while the stick emerges through a hole in the hockey mask. I’m feeling pretty badass. I got this. Radiation got nothing on me.
The bed moves into the tube. I keep my eyes shut to remain unaware of the cylinder’s circumference, an integral part of my treatment. The machine shudders and spews sounds that circulate about the head. I remember the prayers of Mary and the one about how we can do all things through Christ. My face hurts. Why?
I am biting down so hard on my foam fudgsicle I could chew through the hide of a dinosaur. Relax, relax and relax. Remember Yoga Nidra. Remember Reiki. Relax. You are in charge. And it works. But the damage may have been done. The throbbing in my face may take two hours to show up but it makes itself known with a vengeance. Biting the hell out of my fudgsicle becomes my theory.
Until it happens again the next day. Even though I’m crazy careful with my fudgsicle. I barely touch the thing. It just kind of hangs out in my mouth—no teeth. More drugs. Although I like drugs as much as the next girl, I do have to make a living and get to the bathroom now and again.
And then it stops. It becomes a dull ache, no biggie. Hmmm. And I get cocky. So that was your punch? I’m good. I’m a rapper with my hoodie up and my gold teeth shining.
Until the sleep of Rip Van Winkle arrives. Aside from daily radiation, I snooze. Day and night. Occasionally pee. And then barf. It’s barf-o-rama season.
Summary of week one: Chemo 1, Me: WTF?