I’m not at all a butterflies & flowers sort of optimist, nor am I a down-in-the-mouth pessimist. I’m pretty much a realist/optimist and I like being practical about things. And I always find honesty to be the best policy.

My first chemo session three weeks ago was very scary for me because I was still trying to get my head around the 50/50 prognosis and also Nog had just left town for a month. Plus, I had no idea what to expect or how I was going to react to the treatment. This time I feel better prepared . . .

To wit, this weekend I am doing chemo prep stuff. Getting all the laundry done, changing the sheets, tidying the apartment, etc. Tomorrow I’ll be preparing some snacky foods for the ‘nausea days’. Last time I found that the kinds of food that sat best with my queasy stomach were things like grilled cheese sandwiches (really any kind of toasted sandwich: ham, scrambled egg…) and, surprisingly, pizza. I think because any bread and cheese combination feels like comfort food to me, but I’ve also heard that cheese is good for stopping diarrhea (that always looks like a pirate word to me), so maybe that’s why I found myself craving it. And so tomorrow I’m going to make one of my fabulous pizzas, which is good for three meals, and freeze it in meal-sized packets. I’ve already stocked up on sandwichy stuff and I’ve also got plenty of mineral water in. And the last job on Sunday night will be to change the cat sand and take out all the rubbish.

It feels good being able to prepare like this … I feel less vulnerable knowing what to expect and doing what I can to make things easier.

The day at the hospital is going to be a bit different from last time because I have to get there early (8.00am) for a blood test. Then I see the oncologist at 10.45 and she’ll decide whether I’m okay to have another chemo session. And only then will I find out if they’ll be able to fit me in that day, though I’m told they usually can. But this means I may not get an appointment for the chemo until sometime in the afternoon.

Knowing this also helps because it’s already been planned that La J will come with me for the ‘first shift’. We’re going to cycle over to the hospital together and once the blood test is done we’ll go and have brekky. Then Pipocas will take the ‘second shift’ and come with me to see the oncologist. As for the ‘third shift’, it will depend on when I get the chemo appointment. At least now I know it takes about 3 hours so I won’t ask anyone to sit with me the whole time. Maybe I’ll borrow Pipocas’s mini dvd player and then either she or La J can come and pick me up afterwards. I was okay after the last time (other than my very painful hand) but they recommend that I have someone with me when I leave the hospital.

Meanwhile … a serendipitous moment! While I was writing this post I got a call from Pilar (one of The Team*) and she asked me for details about my appointment with the surgeon and my next chemo session. I told her my main niggling concern right now is that the surgery has been put off for two months due to waiting lists and holidays. She told me not to worry because doing four cycles of chemo before an operation like this is pretty standard, but to put my mind at ease she would call the surgeon (who she knows) and she also said she’d show up on Monday to talk with my oncologist. And tomorrow she wants to come over and invite me out for a cold beer. 🙂

I have to say that having The Team there has made all the difference. In terms of me not feeling like I’m ‘just another patient’ being fed into an impersonal hospital system. From that first morning they showed up before my emergency op to tell me I had one of the best surgeons going and was in very good hands … then opening my eyes in the wake-up room to see Pilar and Isabel smiling at me. And the whole week I was in hospital they’d all come and visit and make me feel safe.

And also having my friends there to go with me to hospital appointments. They know how scared I am of hospitals, and also how scared I am about what is happening to me.

After my first chemo session I felt so silly asking nursemyra if she’d spend the night at my apartment, but I was just so afraid to be left on my own because I had no idea how the chemo was going to affect me. Happily she didn’t mind doing this at all. This time I reckon I’ll be less afraid, but I’ll also know that La J is just next door.

Gotta get back to work now – got plenty to do…

* For those who don’t know, The Team consists of three fabulous people I have taught English to over the years, who all work in the Nuclear Medicine department, and who also became my friends. Two are now ex-students (Ricardo, head of the dept, and Isabel, second in charge) ; Pilar came back for classes again this year.