Well, that cat nap inspiration must have worked, because I slept all day yesterday. After a somewhat miserable hour or so the night before, with violent hiccups and nausea, I fell into a deep sleep that would have lasted until about now unless I hadn’t been woken up to eat, for tests and to go home this morning.
It’s an appropriate day return home from my first round of augmented ICE, on a day when the typical misery of a horrible snowy winter day is augmented with icy rain. Since my treatment had started late on Monday, they wanted to keep me through the morning. I got the impression the C part of the regimen — the last medication — is the harshest, so they want to keep an eye on your fluids and nausea. I slept right through everything, so the doctors seemed pleased.
Yesterday evening, the nurse woke me up around 6 to make sure I slept through the night. I managed to eat my dinner, type a few things and then talk to my boyfriend before drifting off to sleep again. (I am bummed that I slept through eating my breakfast burrito yesterday, but did get to enjoy a dinner of stir-fried vegetables last night. And if you ever find yourself at MSKCC on a day when the wonton soup is a special, order it for the tender shrimp-filled wontons and fresh cabbage and ginger.)
This morning, I woke up before 8 and tried to get as ready as I could. I must have looked impatient as I felt, as I slurped down my breakfast and asked, “Can I go?” Or had my IV tubes unhooked and asked, “Can I go?” I looked like a desperate movie character about to rip out her own IVs and scale down the wall by the time they removed those and said that yes, I could go.
Now I’m at home with my little NYC family, our two-cat, two-person republic. TMI alert, but I am extremely happy about being able to shower and not having to pee in a hat. I haven’t been this excited to get back to my own bathroom since spending a few months in Mexico using a latrine and taking lukewarm showers. There’s nothing like a hitch in your toiletry schedule to really mess you up.
Years ago, a friend had free tickets to see Urinetown, a musical based on the premise that the residents of the entire town had to pay to pee. Afterwards, my friend, who is prone to body-shaking moments of pure merriment when he thinks something is particularly funny, turned to us. Laughing, red-faced and gasping for air, he asked, “Did we just spend the last few hours watching people singing about not being able to pee?”
Yet, as I regarded my urine hat this week, I found myself thinking about that musical and how I longed for less complicated days.
And on a completely different note of gratitude: Thank you all again for your kind words and notes. If I haven’t answered in the past few days, it’s because I’ve been asleep but I have been cognizant of your thoughts. Being in the hospital can be lonely, but I never felt alone. I would only have to look at my fleece cat blanket — which was a big hit and very warm compared to the thinner hospital blankets — and my cat totem to know that I wasn’t alone. Or I would think of my friend across the Atlantic who shaved her head in solidarity — and looks amazing! Or read some poetry from a friend-of-a-friend in remission from cancer. Or I could read a nice Facebook note or text, even though I couldn’t write much back.
Thank you for helping me remember that even though I have a long road to recovery ahead — one that won’t be pleasant — I’m still one of the luckiest people in the world.