Mom and chemo

Mom, along with the rest of us had been warned about all of the possible side effects of chemo and we were all nervous about Mom’s first round.  She would be receiving chemo one day a month by IV and it would last about 5 hours.  So at the end of September of 2009 we all held our breath.  Auntie A came up to sit with her during chemo and stay with her for the first few days to be sure everything was all right.  Mom didn’t really let on her fears.  She just thought of it as a no-choice issue.  This is what she had to do to get better and she was determined that she would come through it just fine.  My sister and I went to see her and called her over the next few days to the point where I think it really annoyed her.  She didn’t see what the fuss was all about.

Mom had problems with her veins for as long as I can remember.  For years she had to have blood taken out of the top of her hands instead of the inside of her elbow, which is quite painful.  The nurses also had problems getting her IV in so they decided to put in a “pic line”, which is a semi-permanent tiny tube that goes in the upper arm and is threaded through to a major artery near the heart.  It could be used to deliver chemo and take blood.  Unfortunately the pic lines didn’t work very well either and they had to be redone a few times.  But Mom and the rest of us were thankful that there was an alternative to the painful needles every few days.

Mom came through it pretty well for chemo.  She had a few side effects but they weren’t as severe as expected.  She had some nausea but more sensitivity to food.  There were some foods that no longer agreed with her.  She hadn’t had a great appetite for months but this sure didn’t help.  Eggs was one that was a bit of a surprise for her and a disappointment.  She was tired but the worst was the joint pain.  She didn’t really feel anything different the first day but the second day the joint pain started and got so bad she had a hard time moving for a few days and then it slowly went away.  So she had about a week of being uncomfortable and in pain.  It didn’t really slow her down much.  She felt it was important to keep her life as normal as possible to keep her spirits up so she and my Aunt would schedule breakfast and other outings around home care visits and nurses.

Mom’s weight continued to drop as the chemo cycles continued and with each chemo cycle we held our breath knowing that the less severe aspects of the drugs could give way to much worse.  She saw her hair loss as no big deal.  Due to the trauma of my Dad’s death she had started to lose her hair years before.  This baldness was easier to explain than the complexity of trauma and hormone deficiency.  So for her it was a bit of a relief.  Thankfully the side effects were minimal through the first 4 chemo treatments into December.

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