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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chemo Round 6: A Bit Battered But Still Here

Yesterday I went to the hospital for my very last (for now) round of chemotherapy.  Sunday (my wedding anniversary) I had my blood tested and the results were in the hands of the doctors before Monday noon.  Sunday night and Monday morning, I dutifully took my cortisone to limit a possible bad reaction to the taxotere during and after the drip which meant no sleep and my heart going pitty-pat way too fast for my liking.

I actually had two appointments at the hospital that day.  The first was at 10 AM - a few hours with the Radiotherapy service getting acquainted with the staff.  They traced lines on my torso and then tattooed me for future reference.  Not nearly as pretty as the one I had done in Seattle but it will do.

And then, silly me, I went off and had lunch in the center of St. Cloud so I would have something in my stomach before the next appointment, the last chemo round, schedule for 2 PM.

Back at the hospital at 2 PM sharp I was met by a very flustered, very irritated, nurse who greeted me with, "Where were you?  You should have been here hours ago!"  Turns out that when they scheduled the first appointment in the morning and the second in the afternoon they were just kidding and I was supposed to come directly to the next appointment at the chemo center once the radiotherapy folks were done with me.  I pointed (in vain) to the convocations that I had for both that clearly said 10 AM and 2 PM.   I even muttered something about the lunch hour being sacred "quand même" but she wasn't having any of it.

I was definitely in the doghouse but, and I've found this to be true in a lot of situations in France, once I just gave up, gave in, made my excuses and threw myself on her mercy a completely different dynamic kicked in:  I went from being an irresponsible person who should have known better to a poor woman who had simply committed a minor "bêtise" which got us past the recriminations and toward a solution.  And really, was there any doubt that she would find a solution and demonstrate her capacity to "se débrouiller" in the most challenging of circumstances?  Which she did.  Brilliantly.

So in this and similar circumstances in the Hexagone, my best advice is this:  In an argument between what the words clearly printed out on a piece of paper say and how they are interpreted in a particular context, take nothing for granted because the latter wins every time.  Resistance is not only futile, it is not exactly in your best interests.  Just ask yourself, "Do I need to be right or do I want to be happy and have my needs and desires fulfilled?" and the way becomes crystal clear.....

When I was first diagnosed, I crossed my fingers and prayed as hard as I could that I would not need chemotherapy.  I was more frightened of being poisoned than I was of surgery.   Like a lot of projections into the future, the reality turned out to be something entirely different.

Yes, I was sick to my stomach for more days than I care to remember.  Yes, there were times when my muscles and joints ached unbearably.  Yes, I lost my hair (and my eyelashes and my eyebrows and, just this morning, another fingernail).  And, God yes, some days I'm so tired all I can do is move from my bed to the couch and back again.

But I had lump in my throat as the nurse unhooked me from the drip, smiled at me, and wished me well.  I'm going to miss these folks because the fact that the chemo went tolerably well is due to their excellent work in ushering me through this process with good cheer and steely determination.  If I acquired any finer qualities in this endeavor, the team at the hôpital de jour is due a great deal of credit for making it so.

"Au plaisir de ne plus vous revoir , chère madame" (In the hope that we will not be seeing you again, my dear Madame), she said as I left the room.



Anonymous said...

Courage, Victoria ! La route est longue, la pente est raide, parfois il faut accepter de marcher au lieu de courir vers la guérison. Sur ce long et pénible chemin, vous n'êtes pas seule. Je vous envoie une pensée amicale de Grasse.

Shirl and Rowan said...

Victoria, congratulations on reaching this milestone. I think that in all cases, if we can, we are better off to just go with the flow because it surely is more satisfying to be happy than to be right. Hard to remember, but... We are thinking of you. When do the rays start, and how long do they last? Love your beautiful Seattle tattoo!
Shirl and Rowan

Jackie Brown said...

J'espère moi aussi que tu ne la reverras pas. Tous mes voeux de rétablissement.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Thank you all very much for your words. They were of great comfort to me last week when I was living through the aftermath of chemo round 6. I'm not sure what happened (did they increase the dose of venom or what?) but it was really bad there for a few days. But it's past and I had my first scan earlier this week and everything (knock on wood) came up OK.


Anonymous said...


I cannot find the words to express my admiration for your courage. You are one tough lady indeed!