Walking back onto a hospital floor is never easy. It is especially hard when it’s going back for inpatient chemo. I wasn’t happy about it. I was angry, nervous, scared, and frustrated. I didn’t want to be back here. I wanted to be home with my dogs or at the barn with Joe. I would rather be anywhere other then trapped on a chemo floor for a couple days. That was how I first felt when I was told that I would have to go back to inpatient chemo and be in the hospital 3-5 days. Who would be happy about that?
I strategically bought myself some time before I had to start inpatient chemo. I had Marshall and Sterling finals to attend and I negotiated with my doctor to start chemo after finals and seeing my doctor up in Boston. If I had to go back on hard-core chemo it had to be on my time and with my schedule. I have built a life around the idea that cancer is just a part of my life and will be managed like a chronic illness. I refuse to let it dictate how I live my life.
As most of you know my sister is notorious for sending me crazy things while I am in the hospital for chemo. She is best known for the cardboard cutouts. This round of chemo I asked her that to transform the space instead of sending a cardboard cutout; to make it not look like a hospital room and instead make me think I was somewhere else. Needless to say she ran with it and got very excited for this challenge.
The day of chemo arrived and we drove to clinic to get my port accessed. After getting my labs I was informed that a bed was not available on the floor yet. Instead of sitting in clinic and waiting, my mom and I decided to drive around. Of course the one day we actually had time to go to Knoebels, it was closed. Plus I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t let me ride the Flume or Twister with an accessed port. We wandered around Wal-Mart and I looked through all of The Pioneer Woman collection they had in their store. We got lunch and then got the call that a bed finally was available.
When I started to get settled in the room my mom brought out a box and said that is was from my sister. When I opened the box it revealed decorations to transform the space to look like a Hawaiian Luau. We decided we would start decorating while I was waiting for them to mix my chemo.
When you are admitted to the floor you are asked a series of questions. This time I was told they have a new policy about asking questions for suicide prevention. I was asked, “Do you ever wish that you could not wake up?” I responded with, “no”. Then my nurse said, “Now don’t laugh, but when is that last time you went to the bathroom?” I instantly burst out laughing. We went from do you want to never wake up to when’s the last time you took a good BM.
After I talked with the pharmacist and signed my paperwork we decided to decorate my room. I put on a playlist with the Moana and Lilo and Stitch soundtracks and helped my mom decorate the room. We put up the decorations throughout my room and transformed the space. Clearly all those hours of watching HGTV are finally starting to pay off. I got my mix of premeds and chemo and fell asleep. I specifically told them that I didn’t mind sleeping through my chemo. I would much rather sleep through it then be awake and miserable.
I was in the hospital for a little over 3 days. My first full day I mostly slept. I even slept through a visit with very good family friend. She came to hang out for the afternoon. I also tried to take several walks. If I didn’t walk they threatened to give me a blood thinner shot so I obviously chose the walk option. My orthopedic surgeon came to visit and I got to catch up with him. I absolutely love seeing him and his nurses. They are the sweetest people. I got to show him a picture of Joe and me showing at finals. He was very excited. I’ll never forget the time he told me that I could ride when everyone else was against it. He always said that if I needed to ride for my well being then I should ride. The only stipulation was unless my knee was hurting then obviously don't ride.
The next day was filled with me sleeping in the morning until family friends came to visit. They brought me my own stuffed animal version of their dog that I love and a puppy version of him that I could snuggle. The dog tag on the one dog read, “Don’t mess with my Olivia.” They also brought me dog-shaped balloons. One of them was the type of balloon that you could walk with and it looked like you were walking a dog. I immediately took him for a walk with my friend and walked to the nurse’s station to show my nurses. I asked one of the nurses what I should name him and she said, “Todd.” The name was so random that it stuck.
I got sick only one time while I was in the hospital. It was on the morning I was scheduled to go home. I was brushing my teeth and I must’ve hit my gag reflex the wrong way and next thing I knew I was running for my bed to grab a bag. It takes skill to be able to sprint with an IV pole. Within seconds my nurse’s aide was by my side with a cold washcloth and ready to give me a new bag. What was even crazier was that I hadn’t even buzzed for a nurse yet. She has like a sixth sense when it comes to this kind of stuff. Plus when I was sick she yelled to me, “ well that’s one way to greet me in the morning,” which made me laugh. I got to go home that day and slept for the rest of the day.
Since getting out of the hospital I have just been laying low and recuperating. The major side effects I experience are being tired and nauseated. I am waiting for the day that my hair falls out. I have been out to visit Joe and hope to get on soon when I am feeling up to it. If I’ve learned anything over the past couple years it is that we cannot change the cards we are dealt but we can change how we play the game.