Just under 5 years ago, post diagnosis and major surgery; I left my first chemo session pumped full of FEC, steroids and anti sickness pills, feeling fine; even stopping for sushi on the way home. This was the calm before the storm; as by 10pm that evening I was throwing up, despite the back up anti sickness meds, the back up back up anti sickness meds, and an iron will.
I had no idea you could vomit 10hrs straight..... But yes, sadly this is physically possible; although towards the end, it was clear that my stomach was completely voided, and what was being produced was pure bile.... bright green and bitter on the tongue.
A swift trip to the hospital to rehydrate and receive further anti sickness back up meds soon put it right; although the difficulty they experienced inserting the cannula should have set alarm bells ringing.
By my second chemo session, it was clear my veins were having nothing to do with the process, resolutely shutting down; unyielding to the gentlest of nurses. It was decided that a PIC line was in order..... and had my veins allowed it to pass through, this would have made chemo far simpler... But no, my right arm refused to countenance such a scheme; which is how I ended up on an operating table being told by a doctor that I would just experience some pressure on my chest as a Hickman line was inserted......he lied; but then again how could he know; he after all had never experienced this procedure!
Then the inevitable happened; my hair began to drift out in clumps, as we knew it most surely would. My husband and son couldn't face shaving it, so two dear friends, armed with a pair of clippers, took photos as they clipped my hair into a Mohawk , and then down to a buzz cut.... We laughed and joked as the clippers did their work... compared to the Hickman and the vomiting, this was the least of my woes.
A week later, I realised even the buzz cut was rubbing off onto pillow cases and the back of sofas. Like Hansel and Gretel, I too was leaving a tell tail trail marking my movements around the house.
That evening I decided it had to go! I ran a steaming hot bath, and, taking a brand new razor, began to shave my head. After the second stroke I realised this was a bad idea; I was now immersed in 'hair soup' ! I scrambled out of the bath, wrapped myself loosely in a towel, drained the water, cleaned up every last strand of hair; then realised that I must finish what I started, or totally lose my dignity as even with a buzz cut, there is a surprising amount of hair. I took the razor, headed for the shower and carefully shaved the rest of my head. There was now hair all over the shower curtain and the bath tub. Wrapped in a now damp and distinctly hairy towel, I cleaned the shower curtain, re cleaned the bath, and discarded the towel in the laundry hamper... Only to notice I had missed a tuft of hair. So I took the razor, leaned over the basin, and finished the job; then cleaned the basin, cleaned the cleaning cloth and consigned another hair laden towel into the laundry hamper.
Two hours from that fateful decision, I wiped steam from the bathroom mirror and steeled myself to look at my reflection. It was as I thought; despite the neatly rounded skull of a cesarean baby, it was definitely Uncle Fester's twin sister staring back at me!!