Saturday, December 10, 2005


My husband started his chemo yesterday. He was diagnosed over a month and a half ago and the wait between being diagnosed and starting treatment has been pure hell. I'm trying to be optimistic in front of him, but unfortunately I fall apart at very odd times. The worst was one day at work. I had to clear a lot of snow off my car first thing in the morning. Later I saw myself in the washroom and lost it. My hair was flat, my makeup gone and I looked scary dreadful. I went back to my workstation and sat there cying my eyes out. Only I couldn't do it out loud. Very few people there know what is going on and although it's an enclosed workstation and no one could see me, sound carries very well. So I couldn't sob out loud. Of course I had no kleenix. Then I wasn't sure if I was crying because of what we are going through or because I looked like shit and had no tissues, thus forcing me to go to the washroom - looking like shit - to face myself in the huge washroom mirror again. The second option made me feel worse because how shallow was that?

Anyway - observations from yesterday

Women who loose their hair due to being on chemo are beautiful. That really struck me yesterday. They are truly beautiful. I would say the same thing about men too, but since that's the style these days I wasn't sure if the bald men I saw were on chemo or baseball players. My husband is worried about his hair falling out. But since he's already lost a great deal of it over the years, that concern puzzles me. Of course it could be the same kind of shallow thing I experience myself.

The volunteers who brought food and coffee for the chemo patients ignored the visitors. Now I know they have limited resources and I probably would have said no to an offer of a cookie or juice anyway - but still it was rather odd to see us visitors being ignored.

I knew it was going to be a long day - they said it would take at least five hours for the chemo to drip and he had another test before that, so I dithered before we left on what book to bring. I ended up bringing 4. And then never read them. Books have been a tremendous comfort during this time. Well, they always have been - but even more so nowadays.

Always carry a big bag. Purses aren't large enough. I learned that one earlier on. My husband needs to hand me his stuff - his glasses, his wallet, his medication, his car keys, the book he's currently reading (I've tried to get him to read one of my romances. I said it would make him feel good - but he's still not going for it), his medical journal where he has names and dates listed, his hat (yes he handed me his hat to put in there). Then of course there is my 4 books, my wallet, my car keys etc etc. etc. - no hat though. That would flatten my hair. Then they gave me more stuff to carry while we were there, some meal supplements, a package of medical stuff to give the VON when she visits, booklets, pamphlets. I did score a great pair of little scissors though. I'd been needing a pair.

We are very lucky where we live. It's a 10 minute drive to the cancer clinic. I heard some people there say they had a 2 hour drive. People from a 2 hour radius of cities come to that clinic. We have a 10 minute drive. Gotta love that.

Visitor chairs are the most uncomfortable things. The patients have these real comfortable lazy-boy chairs but *ackk* to the visitor chairs. Because we got there early (the 10 minute drive) I scouted the room for the most comfortable looking one. Luckily the one I found wasn't too bad, although not condusive to reading. When I left for a bit to get some lunch I told my husband (who was eating soup brought by the volunteers) he had to guard the chair while I was gone. Apparently someone wanted it, but he held firm and wouldn't let them take it.

The IV machines talk to each other. Many of them started beeping at the same time and I swear they were making conversation amongst themselves. I pointed this out to my husband just as his joined in the chatter. It was almost a melodic sound.

As bungled up as our health care may be in this country though I am surely glad we won't be having to pay for this cause I think it will be costing a fortune.

More observations to come on further visits

'til later


Tara Marie said...

The whole situation sounds very scary. Thoughts and prayers are with you both daily.

That bag must be immense, to hold all that stuff. Whenever my dad is in the hospital, my sister and I both carry giant messenger bags, filled with reading and puzzle books, magazines, food and anything else we think we may need. Waiting rooms suck, though I have to say the chairs at Mt. Sinai in NYC are rather comfortable.

Most days I don't carry any bag, but almost always travel with a "Thomas the Tank Engine" backpack. It draws looks, but what the heck, Junior likes it, actually it's his.

Megan Frampton said...


I don't think you're shallow, not at all! I mean, things are a little scary now, and you don't want to have to answer questions about anything, I'm assuming, and if you look like something is up, people will ask, and then it'll become a whole thing.

I'm glad you have a big bag to hold everything. I'm glad you're hauling around four books for whichever mood you're in. I'm thinking about you guys, and hope things get better soon.

Nicole said...

*hugs* and you're not shallow at all!

That must be one enormous bag!

And isn't it always when you think you'll need more books, you end up not reading at all?

Alyssa said...

Kristie, my thoughts are with both of you. I hope things go well.

And keep those books in your bag! You may need them next time.

Anonymous said...

Kristie-Thank you for the comment on my journal. I'm completely fed up, which is well documented. :)

I'll keep you and your husband in my thoughts & prayers. Going through cancer of any sort is scary business.

I can just imagine the immensity of your bag. :) I bet you look like you're moving in every time you go to the hospital. :-D

Have a nice weekend! I'm home sick, so I'm hanging out online. That's never a good sign. LO!

CindyS said...


With what you are going through you *know* you weren't crying about your hair. It's just that last straw that turns the spiget. You'll probably bawl the next time you break a cup or some such but it's just because you're keeping it together for your husband.

Get a couple boxes of kleenex to keep at work because that is probably where it will happen again (oh, and in the car too!). That way, you won't have to do the dreaded walk. I would suggest getting a little pillow to sob into but someone might see it and think you are sleeping on the job ;)

I'm glad you are close to the clinic so that you don't have to deal with bad weather on the drive. We are very lucky in Canada to have the health care system we do for the money alone. Waiting for treatment, however, needs to be addressed.

The next time your husband mentions his hair you should whisper to him that Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek Generations always made you a little 'hot'.

I'm sorry that you have to go through this but I am praying that all will be well. Hopefully next time you can settle a bit and pick up a book.

Silly how up here, I won't go to a hospital without a book because I already know the wait is going to be the worst.

Take Care

Gabrielle said...

Kristie, I'm so sorry for both of you that you're going through this. Take care of yourselves.

Avid Reader said...

Kristie, I'll be here. Your observations about life and what you all are going through is inspiring and touching to me. I'll be here, reading it and praying for you both.


ReneeW said...

Thank you so much for sharing your observations. Cindy is so right, it was just the final straw. Keep that bag handy and stock it with kleenex and books. Hopefully this will settle enough you so can relax and read a bit through these treatments. My prayers are with you and Ron.